SACRAMENTO–Budget language ensuring the independence and integrity of University of California with regard to funding proposals from foreign interests was included in the 1998-1999 budget bill signed into law by California Governor Pete Wilson late last week–announced the Armenian National Committee of America–Western Region.
Spearheaded by California State senators Adam Schiff and Bill Lockyer–the language mandates the establishment of guidelines and criteria for University of California schools considering accepting funds from foreign entities and governmen’s
The measure requires that the University of California Board of Regents submit a report to the Budget Committees of both the California State Senate and Assembly by March 31–1999–explaining how the processes and criteria to be utilized by the University of California system–or its individual campuses–ensures academic consultation–independence and integrity when considering accepting or rejecting academic funding proposals or endowmen’s from foreign interests seeking to place conditions on the terms of the endowment.
The measure was prompted by the recent controversy surrounding the Turkish Government’s attempt to finance the establishment of Ottoman and Turkish history programs at the University of California at Los Angeles and University of California–Berkeley.
The Turkish Government proposals placed subtle conditions on the funding which all but assured that the academician who was hired to head the program would support the Turkish Government’s revisionist stance on the Armenian Genocide issue.
"Any funding sources that place conditions and restrictions on the use of the funds–creating the potential for teaching revisionist history–or simply ignoring historical events which do not positively reflect upon the nation providing the grant funding–is simply unacceptable," stated State Senator Adam Schiff–who represents a sizable Armenian American constituency residing in the 21st State Senate district, which includes Burbank–Glendale–Pasadena–La Crescenta–and portions of Hollywood.
"I am pleased that this very important language was included in the budget bill. It is essential to maintain the academic freedom and independence we have come to expect from our most prestigious universities," he added.
"It was quite evident from the onset of our discussions earlier this year with both Senators Schiff and Lockyer that they understood and shared our concerns regarding the Turkish Government’s attempt to corrupt American academia through the financing of Turkish "history" programs at American universities," stated ANCA-WR Executive Director Vicken Sonentz-Papazian.
"Not content with merely offering their sympathizes to Armenian Americans–these influential legislators undertook swift and effective measures to combat Turkey’s unwelcome intrusion into America’s educational system–and for that we are extremely grateful. Our next objective will be to adopt similar preventive measures in states educational systems across the country," concluded Sonentz-Papazian.
Those wishing more information and details on the passage of this measure should contact Mannik Khatchatrian of Senator Schiff’s office at (626) 683-0282.