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Three U.S. Representatives Request Foreign Funding Data in Letter to Bacow

U.S. representatives requested foreign funding data from Harvard earlier this week.
U.S. representatives requested foreign funding data from Harvard earlier this week. By Leah S. Yared
By Ellen M. Burstein and Camille G. Caldera, Crimson Staff Writers

U.S. Representatives James Comer (R-Ky.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) requested Monday that Harvard disclose all records of gifts from the governments and citizens of China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Russia since 2015.

The request includes “all unredacted records of gifts from, contracts or agreements with, and restricted or conditional gifts from or contacts with foreign sources,” and all communications between Harvard, its affiliates, and its foreign donors.

“Since 2015, Harvard University has declared 31 gifts or contracts totaling $101,177,826 from China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Russia—all of which were anonymous,” Comer, Jordan, and Foxx wrote in a letter to University President Lawrence S. Bacow sent Monday.

The members of Congress asked the University to provide the documents and arrange a briefing for congressional staff within a week — no later than Aug. 10.

Earlier this year, the Department of Education launched an inquiry into Harvard’s donations from the same five countries. Section 117 of the Higher Education Act requires that institutions of higher education report contracts and gifts from foreign sources that total more than $250,000 a year.

Comer, Jordan, and Foxx wrote that members of the Oversight Committee were briefed by the Education Department on the inquiry in May.

“Through the efforts of the Department, the Committee learned that many countries use donation agreements or contracts (agreements) with IHEs, professors, or researchers (recipients) to leverage their money into some type of benefit, or quid pro quo,” they wrote.

Harvard spokesperson Jason A. Newton confirmed the University received the letter. He declined to comment on the letter or Harvard’s plans for a response.

Harvard raked in over $1.1 billion in contracts and monetary gifts from foreign nations between 2013 and 2019, per an analysis by The Crimson of Department of Education data.

England, at $244 million, Hong Kong, at $161 million, and China, at $94 million, were the school’s top three donor countries.

The University also reported over $30 million from sources in Saudia Arabia, as well as five donations from Qatar, totalling about $5 million. Harvard reported no donations from Russia or Iran during the six-year period.

Comer, Jordan, and Foxx also wrote to the presidents of the University of Chicago, University of Delaware, New York University, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University.

After they sent the letter, Comer took to Twitter to advocate for funding transparency on the universities' part.

“Gifts from Communist China & other foreign adversaries to American universities must be transparent and fully disclosed to Congress,” he wrote Monday.

“When hostile foreign actors have financial ties to American universities, our national security is threatened,” he added Tuesday.

—Staff writer Ellen M. Burstein can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ellenburstein.

—Staff writer Camille G. Caldera can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @camille_caldera.

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