FSU dean's email a preemptive move against criticism for arrangement with Tea Partying Koch Brothers?

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A loyal reader just forwarded me an e-mail from David Rasmussen, the Dean of the College of Social Sciences who inked the controversial deal with one of the Koch Brothers.

The tremendous pressure Rasmussen and his colleagues are under — pressure which perhaps opens the door for deals like the one with the Koch Brothers — is readily apparent in this email from Dean David Rasmussen, which also sounds like a preemptive move to head off criticism of the Koch Brothers contract.

Dear Friends:

We are facing another year of budget cuts ?our fifth in a row. As a result we have not replaced many of the faculty who have left the university due to retirement. We are also starting to experience a brain drain as faculty are receiving offers that contain substantially higher salaries from other universities. With rising enrollments and fewer faculty, class sizes have risen.

These pressures will surely continue through the next academic year. Belt tightening is hard, but it also provides us with an opportunity to carefully evaluate how our research programs serve to improve our academic reputation and provide meaningful insights into what some times appear to be intractable social, economic, and political problems. We will also need to evaluate our teaching programs to assure that the faculty we hire serve in the most productive programs within each department. Our commitment to excellence in teaching and providing extraordinary extracurricular learning opportunities for our best students will not be compromised.

Jill Quadagno, holder of the Claude and Mildred Pepper Eminent Scholar Chair, received the University Distinguished Teacher Award at the 2011 Faculty Awards Ceremony. This is the highest teaching award that can be conferred on a faculty member. Lora Holcomb (Economics) received an award for undergraduate teaching while Richard Feiock (Askew School of Public Administration and Policy) and Phillip Steinberg (Geography) received the Graduate Faculty Mentor Award. These award winning professors are among many terrific teachers in the College: over 80 percent of the undergraduates report that their professors are either excellent or very good. Graduate students place 84 percent of the! ir instructors in these two categories.

I expect 2011-12 to be a year of transition for the College and the University. We are about to hire a new Provost who will help guide us through the rough waters ahead. The College will chart a course that emphasizes excellence in teaching and the areas of critically important research.

Alumni support is more important than ever for the continued development of the extracurricular educational opportunities that we offer our students. By supporting study abroad, leadership and professional development seminars, visiting speakers, and student organizations, you play a critical role in the excellent education our students receive at Florida State. Thank you.

With best regards,

David W. Rasmussen, Dean

More from the original article from the Times: Under the agreement with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, however, faculty only retain the illusion of control. The contract specifies that an advisory committee appointed by Koch decides which candidates should be considered. The foundation can also withdraw its funding if it’s not happy with the faculty’s choice or if the hires don’t meet “objectives” set by Koch during annual evaluations.

Rasmussen, dean of the College of Social Sciences, defended the deal, initiated by an FSU graduate working for Koch. During the first round of hiring in 2009, Koch rejected nearly 60 percent of the faculty’s suggestions but ultimately agreed on two candidates. Although the deal was signed in 2008 with little public controversy, the issue revived last week when two FSU professors ?one retired, one active ?criticized the contract in theTallahassee Democrat as an affront to academic freedom.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.