The Department of Education is stepping up its scrutiny of whether colleges comply with federal reporting requirements regarding disclosures of foreign gifts and contracts.
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The department's letters to Georgetown and Texas A&M seem to indicate an expectation that gifts routed through university foundations should be reported. The letter to Georgetown, for example, states that the department believes Georgetown's reporting "may not fully capture all gifts, contracts and/or restricted and conditional gifts or contracts from or with all foreign sources ... For example, Georgetown University's Section 117 reporting should have included Georgetown University Qatar; all other Georgetown University locations ... and all of Georgetown University's affiliated foundations and nonprofit organizations, whether or not organized under the laws of the United States (e.g., the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding), that receive gifts, enter into contracts and/or receive or enter into restricted or conditional gifts or contracts from or with a foreign source and that operate substantially for the benefit or under the auspices of Georgetown University."
Georgetown reported more than $36 million in foreign-sourced gifts and contracts in 2018, including a $32.9 million contract with the Qatar Foundation, Georgetown's sponsor for its branch campus in Doha, and more than $1 million in funding from other Qatari sources. (Other than Qatar, the only other overseas entities from which Georgetown reported receiving a foreign-sourced gift or contract in 2018 were Hong Kong and Spain.)
The letter from the Department of Education asks about Georgetown's Qatari funds as well as gifts and contracts involving specific sources in China, Russia and Saudi Arabia. The letter specifically asks for records involving the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, which was endowed with a $20 million gift from a Saudi prince made in 2005, and for records involving Huawei and Hanban.
A Georgetown spokesperson said the university takes its reporting obligations seriously and that officials are "working with the Department of Education to provide responsive information demonstrating that it has reported all required information. The department's letter reflects some misunderstandings about Georgetown, as the university does not host a Confucius Institute and regularly reports payments from the Qatar Foundation (the sponsor for our campus in Doha, Qatar) and gifts related to the University's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding."
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