The Corner


OMG — A Koch Foundation Guy in the Government

Mention the Koch Foundation and leftists start foaming at the mouth. Say that a Koch Foundation guy is going to be working in “their” Education Department, and heads start to explode in rage.

Showing great judgment, Betsy DeVos has named Adam Kissel to be her deputy assistant secretary for higher-education programs. No Senate confirmation, so we (and he) will be spared a ton of leftist sanctimony — but Senator Patty Murray did blurt out something about how this proves DeVos doesn’t care about the survivors of sexual assault. Kissel, you see, formerly worked for FIRE and has often attacked those Title IX “interpretations” that have made it almost impossible for an accused student to get a fair hearing.

In this Martin Center essay, attorney Allen Mendenhall writes about Kissel’s new job. That post, however, probably won’t give him anything like the leverage Murray fears. As Mendenhall explains:

Title IX is beyond the scope of his duties. His office, according to the Office of Post Secondary Education, “administers programs that broaden access to higher education and strengthen the capacity of colleges and universities.” Moreover, it “coordinates a number of higher education-related activities with states,” and awards grants “primarily to institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations and agencies, and state agencies.”

That means he will mainly be overseeing federal higher-education grants. I’d rather see all such grants ended, but political realities being what they are, I think the best we can do is to have someone like Adam (who evaluated Koch higher-ed grants) looking over them. He’ll be able to separate the perhaps not too bad from the ridiculous.

Just having Adam Kissel in the Education Department at all is good. He’ll probably be able to plant the seeds of useful ideas on the tumors to excise.

Mendenhall concludes that this appointment fills an opening well. But in an e-mail to me, Rich Vedder (who we recommended for a post in the Department several months ago) said that quite a few important positions have yet to be filled. Let’s hope for more people like Adam Kissel.

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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