John M. Olin Foundation
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John M. Olin Foundation was an American grant-making foundation established in 1953 by John M. Olin, president of the Olin Industries chemical and munitions manufacturing businesses. Unlike most foundations, the John M. Olin Foundation was charged to spend all of its assets within a generation of Olin's death, for fear of mission drift over time and in order to preserve donor intent. It made its last grant in the summer of 2005 and officially disbanded on November 29, 2005, after having disbursed over $370 million in funding, primarily to conservative think tanks, media outlets, and law programs at influential universities. The Foundation is most notable for its early support and funding of the law and economics movement and the Federalist Society. “All in all, the Federalist Society has been one of the best investments the foundation ever made”, wrote the Foundation to its trustees in 2003.
History and purpose
The fund was largely inactive until 1969, when John M. Olin was disturbed by the Willard Straight Hall takeover at his alma mater, Cornell University. At the age of 80, he decided that he must pour his time and resources into preserving the free market system.
The Foundation is most notable for its early support and funding of the law and economics movement, a discipline that applies incentive-based thinking and cost-benefit analysis to the field of legal theory. Olin believed that law schools have a disproportionately large impact on society given their size and to this end decided to focus the majority of his funding there.
According to the official website, "the general purpose of the John M. Olin Foundation is to provide support for projects that reflect or are intended to strengthen the economic, political and cultural institutions upon which the American heritage of constitutional government and private enterprise is based. The Foundation also seeks to promote a general understanding of these institutions by encouraging the thoughtful study of the connections between economic and political freedoms, and the cultural heritage that sustains them."
William E. Simon served as president of the Foundation from 1977 until his death in 2000. He frequently discussed the foundation's commitment to supporting the "counter-intelligentsia". The Olin Foundation was formerly managed by Michael S. Joyce, who left to head the similar Bradley Foundation. James Piereson was the last executive director and secretary.
The foundation supported conservative thinkers such as Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute; Mac Donald is the John M. Olin Fellow at this New York City-based institution. In 2005, following longstanding plans, the foundation announced its final grants and closed its doors. The foundation closed in the same year as the Franklin W. Olin Foundation, which was established by John Olin's father, Franklin W. Olin. The Franklin W. Olin Foundation also shut down for donor intent reasons, but the two foundations were entirely independent and unrelated, except for the family connection of their founders.
John Lott Controversy
The John M. Olin Foundation funded the John M. Olin Fellowship at University of Chicago. While serving as an Olin Fellow, Professor John Lott produced a study that argued that relaxing concealed weapons laws can reduce crime. The claims sparked controversy when Lott was pressed for the survey data he used to write the study, and failed to provide any evidence of the survey ever occurring. He claimed to have forgotten the names of the students who worked with him on the project, and that the original data had been destroyed in a hard drive failure.
2005 Board of Directors
- Eugene F. Williams, Jr., Chairman
- George J. Gillespie III, President and Treasurer
- James Piereson, Secretary
- Peter M. Flanigan
- Richard M. Furlaud
- Charles F. Knight
Partial list of grant recipients
Conservative think tanks
- American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
- Center for Equal Opportunity
- Center for Individual Rights
- Center of the American Experiment
- Eagle Forum
- Free Congress Foundation
- Hoover Institution at Stanford University
- Hudson Institute
- Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
- National Association of Scholars
- Palmer R. Chitester Fund
- Philanthropy Roundtable
Among the many institutions to gain contributions from the foundation were:
- University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law
- University of Chicago Department of Economics
- University of Chicago George J. Stigler Center for the Study of Economy and the State
- University of Chicago John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy
- University of Chicago Law School
- University of Michigan Law School
- Stanford Law School ($8.3 million))
- University of Virginia School of Law
- Yale Law School
- Harvard Law School ($10 million)
- Harvard University John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs
- Kenyon College (Olin Library)
- Washington University in St. Louis (John M. Olin Business School)
- Georgetown University (Department of Government)
- Georgetown University Law Center
- Cornell University (John M. Olin Library)
- Tufts University (The Olin Language Center)
- Bard College (The Olin Language Center)
- Johns Hopkins University (Earth and Planetary Sciences)
The John M. Olin Foundation has also given large amounts of money to conservative groups at prestigious colleges and universities, including the Federalist Society.
- University of Houston Department of Political Science
There are several dozen John M. Olin Professors at universities and law schools around the world, including:
- John M. Olin Professor at Fordham University (currently Ernest van den Haag)
- John M. Olin Professor at George Mason University (currently Walter E. Williams)
- John M. Olin Professor at Yale Law School (currently George L. Priest)
- John M. Olin Professor at Georgetown University (formerly Walter F. Berns)
Authors and researchers
- William J. Bennett
- Walter F. Berns AEI; Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University. National Humanities Medal 2005.
- Allan Bloom received $25,000 to write The Closing of the American Mind, a critique of postmodern university culture. He also started the Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy in Chicago with Olin funding.
- Robert Bork
- David Brock got $5000 to write The Real Anita Hill, a book critical of Anita Hill who was slowing the confirmation of Clarence Thomas for the U.S. Supreme Court. Brock later regretted the book and apologized in Blinded by the Right.
- Linda Chavez
- Dinesh D'Souza
- Samuel P. Huntington received a grant to write the book Clash of Civilizations.
- Irving Kristol
- Robert S. Leiken
- John Lott
- Henry Manne
- Harvey Mansfield
- Charles Murray received a grant for his 1984 book Losing Ground.
- Michael Novak
- George Stigler
- [dead link]
- "Articles About Heather Mac Donald". New York Times. 2010-11-04. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor of City Journal and the John M. Olin Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Her latest book, co-written with Victor Davis Hanson and Steven Malanga, is "The Immigration Solution".
- Piereson, James (March–April 2002). "The Insider’s Guide to Spend Down: Switching off the lights at the Olin Foundation". Philanthropy. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
- Miller, John J. (2006). A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America. San Francisco: Encounter.
- John R. Lott, More guns, less crime: understanding crime and gun-control laws, 2d. ed. 124-125 (U. Chicago Press 2000)(Google Books)
- Sanchez, Julian. "The Mystery of Mary Rosh". Reason.com. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
- "Law School program gets $3 million boost from John M. Olin Foundation". News-service.stanford.edu. 2005-01-19. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
- John J. Miller, A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America (2005) ISBN 1-59403-117-7
- Jason DeParle, "Goals Reached, Donor on Right Closes Up Shop" (May 29, 2005), New York Times.
- John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy
- John M. Olin Institute For Strategic Studies
- National Review Online: "Foundation's End," by John J. Miller
- "Muscular Philanthropy: Tough love and the John M. Olin Foundation", Townhall.com, November 15, 2005