Buying the academy

Last year, news reports began revealing a troublesome scenario. Stories  indicated that the Koch Brothers, billionaire businessmen and chief underwriters of conservative political campaigns, were donating large sums of money to Universities, both public and private alike, to create “think tanks”, research institutes and to hire faculty who would teach decidedly conservative ideology to students.  A battle over the impact of such cash donations on academic freedom has raged ever since.

One concern regarding donations and grants of this type is that such “gifts” cause the recipient Universities to establish institutes that gives academic legitimacy to political points of view, rather than academic areas of study.

This troubling pattern of using money to purchase office space in famous Universities is not only a tactic of the political right. As a recent youtube video points out, Bob Barker – celebrity host of the Price is Right and animal rights activist – used the immense wealth he accumulated during his more than 30 year on television – to underwrite programs in “animal law” at major Universities across the country, including at UCLA.

TV Celebrity, Bob Barker

What is the goal of creating these programs? One view is that the goals include training a new generation of lawyers who are skilled in achieving rights of personhood for nonhuman animals.

From my perspective, one of the most chilling aspects of Barker’s gifts is the fact that he is on record (see the youtube video below) as referring to the Animal Liberation Front (a domestic terrorist organization that has been involved in the criminal attacks on me and my UCLA colleagues) as the “most effective” animal rights group around.

While Universities should never discriminate politically when deciding from whom to receive gifts, it does seem quite troubling that our leading institutions of higher learning have been quite so ready to accept cash from a man that separately appears to endorse the impact and mission of a radical, terrorist organization that has been involved in attacks on its faculty.

There are some prices that are just not right. This is one of them.


  1. He has also supported Paul Watson, who among other things told participants at the Animal Rights 2002 convention that: “Animal Liberation Front tactics are going to continue. There’s not a damned thing you can do about it, you’re not going to stop it. So you might as well incorporate it into the movement.” Barker supported Paul Watson with a $5M gift. And now is trying to come to his rescue as he is a fugitive:

    And yes, I also support the protection of marine wildlife — but I do not support terrorism.

    1. $5 million dollars could have purchase FREE spay/neutering for multiple hundreds of thousands of cats and dogs and prevented the spread of homeless and unwanted animals that will fall victim of horrific cruelty by humans, predation, and disease. Homeless animals live very short, brutal lives and they often die in horrific agony. Paul Watson, on the other hand, is creating animosity with other nations, and its a lame cause. Keep in mind pollution threatens whales more than whalers do. Bob Barker LOST HIS MIND.

  2. so do I. I support animal welfare and have a couple friends who are openly against use of animals for any use. I understand their point of view. I don’t worry if they give money to university, for research, with a “human research only” sticker but I don’t support terrorism and this tactic of manipulation is disgusting.

  3. I have known Barker has been doing that for many years and I have made complaints about it but nothing has been done yet. I am very concerned that Universities may see this as an easy way to make some money but the strings attached are so prohibitive, I am shocked they take it. And I agree, this tactic of manipulation IS disgusting.

  4. I think it’s very sad he is supporting terrorism. Has he lost his mind??? I remember when he hosted “Truth or Consequences” he always closed the show saying “Please spay/neuter your dogs and cats”. What ever happened to that Bob Barker. If he really wanted to help animals he should donate his millions to low cost and FREE spay/neuter clinics across America and promote spay/neutering. By doing so millions will be saved from homelessness, human and animal predation and slowly and painfully dying in agony due to disease and injuries such as getting hit by vehicles. Injured and sick cats HIDE by instinct so they die in agony – unseen. Supporting the terrorists known as Animal Liberation Front, he lost my respect. SHAME ON YOU BOB BARKER! SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!

  5. If anybody has difficulty understanding why the law attached the word “terrorist” with the ALF and other extremists groups, this is legally no different than abortion clinic bombers who are also legally terrorists. So if you support the ALF, and other extremists groups, it’s no different than supporting those abortion clinic bomber wackos.

    1. If you all want any monkeys for research, Florida has those nasty varmints running all over Central Florida: Rhesus monkeys are everywhere, and they do bite and attack people unprovoked. I’ve emailed the FWC in FL asking them to please trap and get rid of them–sell them to labs or something-anything-I don’t care–I don’t want ANY MONKEYS in my back yard or I will absolutely FREAK! They will attack and can even rip people’s faces right off! These monkeys also provide food for another invasive species-anacondas and pythons–swallowing them whole and these snakes keep on breeding and breeding. It’s so disgusting. So if you all need monkeys – Florida is the place to get them! Take them!

  6. He is not just against research. Late last year his $1 million donation to Performing Animal Welfare Society’s ARK 2000 (PAWS) paid for transport of elephants from the Toronto Zoo to their facility. The zoo had originally arranged for them to go to The National Elephant Center (TNEC) in Florida, a much closer trip and a better facility than ARK 2000, but not one that is openly against zoos. Barker got involved and drummed up the press. This pressured the Toronto City Council to make the very wrong decision to FORCE the Toronto zoo to acquiesce.

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