70 million dollars. That is the amount of money Lifetime Trustee David Koch has contributed to Deerfield Academy as of 2014 before the installation of the David H. Koch Field House and new athletic complex, according to an interview conducted by The Deerfield Scroll.
1.2 billion dollars. That is the total amount of money Mr. Koch has donated in his life to cancer research, education, medicine, and more, according to the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation.
Do I agree with all of Mr. Koch’s political beliefs? No.
Do I agree with Mr. Koch’s views on climate change? Absolutely not.
Am I incredibly grateful for Mr. Koch? Yes.
I would like to preface this article by saying that I, just as the Academy, do not sanction any of Mr. Koch’s political views. Mr. Koch has devoted his life to causes he feels strongly about. Whether I, or any members of our community agree or disagree with these causes does not change the positive impact he has had on this institution.
Through his hard work, success, and subsequent philanthropic pursuits, I believe that Mr. Koch is one variation of the “living example of Mr. Boyden’s aspirations,” as stated by former President of the Board of Trustees Philip Greer.
In a petition started by Deerfield alumnus Edward H. Plimpton ’70 to remove Mr. Koch’s lifetime trusteeship, Mr. Plimpton states, “His advocacy of libertarian politics is his prerogative, but Deerfield Academy does not need to sanction this perspective which seeks to remove governmental safeguards on the environment.” However, by accepting Mr. Koch’s donations and honoring him as a Lifetime Trustee, Deerfield Academy as an institution is not acknowledging and praising his political views but rather acknowledging and praising his dedication to Deerfield.
Mr. Plimpton cites Jane Mayer’s New York Times bestselling book Dark Money in his petition against Mr. Koch. My grandfather gifted me this same book shortly before he passed. For those who have not had the privilege of reading Mayer’s work, it focuses upon people of means, like Mr. Koch, and their role in campaign corruption. My grandfather told me that this corruption is the problem my generation has to solve. This is the problem that will shape our world. He could not have been more ardently opposed to Mr. Koch and his politics. But my grandfather also knew that Mr. Koch was the reason I was receiving such a magnificent education. He knew that Mr. Koch’s generous contributions were going towards educating the next generation of leaders that would tackle pertinent issues that Mr. Koch failed to address.
Every day I jump in the cold water of the David H. Koch Natatorium and leave a faster swimmer because of it. Every day I walk through the double doors of the Koch Center and leave slightly more adept at precalculus because of it. Every Sunday I step into the goal on the turf of the David H. Koch Field House and leave a better teammate because of it. Mr. Koch’s generous contributions are the reason we, as Deerfield students, are provided with countless opportunities that will enrich our lives forever. I am who I am today because of Mr. Koch’s contributions and that is irrefutable.
Thank you, Mr. Koch.