Florida State University president Eric Barron has seen the light. His decision to invite faculty leaders to review the controversial donor contract with the Charles G. Koch Foundation is a step toward protecting the academic freedom that has been compromised and removing a stain on the garnet and gold.
Barron initially offered an unqualified defense of a 2008 deal that gives the Koch foundation effective control of the hiring process for two faculty positions in FSU's economics department in exchange for $1.5 million over six years. Barron wasn't even at FSU when the deal was struck, and there were more questions raised at the time by top administrators than it initially appeared. There is no reason for him to defend such an untenable contract.
Now there are signs he is moving in the right direction. Barron sent a message to the university community last week promising to work "to prevent outcomes like this in the future." Asking that FSU's faculty senate steering committee consider the issues surrounding the contract is a reasonable way forward.
The best result would be a clear policy and transparent mechanism that prevents FSU from accepting or keeping any gift from a donor who seeks to control hiring or the direction of academic thinking.