The University failed to appropriately disclose its foreign sources of funding between 2014 and 2017, University spokeswoman Karen Peart confirmed on Thursday.
Peart told the News in an email that, between 2014 and 2017, Yale did not fulfill a statutory requirement that mandates educational institutions to report certain foreign donations to the U.S. Department of Education. According to Peart, Yale learned of the oversight last year and submitted all of the missing reporting to the department in November “as quickly as possible,” and as of now, the University believes its reporting is “current and complete.”
On Tuesday, the Education Department sent a letter to University President Peter Salovey requesting records on contributions totaling $375 million from foreign governments. Under federal law, universities are required to report foreign donations that exceed $250,000 to the department, whether the gifts come from just one source or several. The request falls under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which increased federal funding to universities, created scholarships and established low-interest student loans.
“On Feb. 11, Yale University received a notice from the U.S. Department of Education that it is commencing an administrative investigation into the university’s compliance with a statutory requirement that mandates reporting to the Education Department of certain foreign gifts and contracts,” Peart wrote. “Over the past year, at least five other universities have received similar notices from the Education Department. In its notice to Yale, the Education Department correctly states that for four years — 2014 through 2017 — Yale failed to submit required reports on foreign sources of funding.”
Although the University said its reporting is now up to date, the Feb. 11 notice requested that Yale provide additional information about the funding. Yale is reviewing the request, and Yale’s Office of the General Counsel is coordinating an official response, Peart said.
“Yale takes very seriously the importance of ensuring that funding from foreign sources does not in any way compromise American interests, and it respects the Education Department’s requirements about reporting of such funding,” Peart wrote.
The investigation into Yale is part of an ongoing series of investigations into universities nationwide, including Harvard University, which also received a letter from the department on Tuesday. The universities under investigation allegedly failed to report at least $6.5 billion in foreign funding from nations such as China, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, according to Education Department documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.
According to the Journal, the Department of Education accused Yale and other universities of “soliciting donations” from nations who are “hostile” to the U.S. and who are potentially interested in stealing research from American universities and “[spreading] propaganda benefitting foreign governments.”
In her Thursday email, Peart said that a strength of U.S. universities has long been their international collaborations that directly benefit the American people. She added that Yale ensures both the transparency and public dissemination of its research.
“Yale does not conduct classified or secret research, and the research we do conduct is published and available to the public through scholarly journals and other outlets,” Peart wrote. “Yale upholds the free inquiry of its faculty and does not accept, from any source of funding, restrictions on its research or teaching.”
In the Tuesday letter, the Education Department requested that Yale disclose records related to Chinese telecommunications companies, Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp.; two Russian groups, the Kaspersky Lab and Skolkovo Foundation; and Iran’s Alavi Foundation, among others. The letter also asked Yale to disclose a list of programs and individuals funded by these organizations or foreign governments as well as details of foreign funding used to develop the new Jackson School of Global Affairs and Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center. In addition, Yale must provide records referencing “conditions imposed or influence on any of the Institution’s curriculum, programs or activities by any foreign source of a gift,” the letter said.
Per the Feb. 11 letter, Yale has 60 days to produce all of the requested documentation — or face civil or criminal penalties by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Within the past year, the department has sent similar letters to Georgetown University, Texas A&M University, Cornell University, Rutgers University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Maryland, according to the department’s website.
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