Beyond vetting donors

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Science  08 Nov 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6466, pp. 667
DOI: 10.1126/science.aba0494


Jeffrey Epstein, the Sackler family, the Koch brothers—these major private donors have reignited talk about how research and education get funded. Increasingly, universities are spending substantial time not only deciding whether to accept gifts but defending them after the fact or renouncing them and returning the money. Although the lessons of Jeffrey Epstein are clear—the Massachusetts Institute of Technology didn't stop its Media Lab from taking his gifts when it was obvious who he was—it seems likely that these kinds of episodes are going to happen more frequently in the future. Blame the intense competition among institutions at a time when money to support university endeavors has gotten tighter. Unfortunately, there's been more talk about this problem than action to solve it.

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