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More Frackademics in the News

More and more stories are coming out in the media about the cozy relationship the natural gas industry has developed with academics. Both Wired and Mother Jones magazines have articles about the subject in their recent issues. Both mention the recent Univeristy at Buffalo shale shenanigans unfavorably.

It’s hard to imagine how the UB Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI), in its relatively short existence, could have done more to downgrade the reputation of the State University of New York at Buffalo. You can’t buy this kind of negative press. You really have to earn it.

To their chagrin, the UB press department can count on more stories like these.

Meanwhile, UB officials maintain that the gas industry didn’t give them a penny to form the institute nor to produce its flawed first report. They say the funds came from the Geology Department. And the Geology Department got that money from one of the UB Foundations.

Why would the University at Buffalo Foundation, whose mission is “to support and promote the activities and programs of the University at Buffalo,” want to continue funding an institute that has brought such shame to the school?

Unless the gas industry donated to one of the UB Foundations. But it would be crazy to make a claim like that, because there is no way to compel the release of documents that could prove such a transaction took place. Artvoice lost a lawsuit trying to force such disclosure.

So, I guess we’ll never know. Better to assume the gas industry did not donate to anybody, and that the UB Foundations simply poured money into an embarrassing endeavor that’s proving detrimental to the school.

As it happens, the most recent 990 tax forms from these organizations, covering the period from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011, have just now become available.

Guess what former UB president John Simpson raked in during that period, from these foundations? $706,787. Keep in mind, he announced his resignation on August 30, 2010, the first day of classes, with 10 months left in this tax period. He also got $262,921 from the State of New York in 2011, with his final job title “assistant to the president.”

The man made off with nearly one million dollars after quitting, with three-quarters of that coming from the foundations.

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