Carnegie Mellon isn’t being open about its relationship with Qatar

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from an article that was originally published by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on April 18, 2024. It is crossposted here with permission.

After the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, universities with close ties to Middle Eastern governments have faced heightened scrutiny. In February, Texas A&M University announced it would close its Qatar branch campus after operating in the Gulf State for two decades.

And in December 2023, The Lawfare Project filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Carnegie Mellon University student who alleged that the university’s acceptance of Qatari funds led to a discriminatory environment against Jewish students. The suit hopes to “shed light on the lack of transparency that exists at universities that receive foreign funding.”

My recent investigation into state and federal documents, primarily obtained through public records requests, shows that Carnegie Mellon has failed to be fully transparent to the Pennsylvania state government about the foreign funds it has received from Qatar. And it’s not the only university to fail to disclose foreign funds.

Nearly $700 million

Between 2010 and 2022, Carnegie Mellon did not report nearly $700 million from Qatar to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The Higher Education Gift Disclosure Act, which has been in effect since 1986, requires all public and private universities in the Commonwealth to disclose foreign gifts valued at $100,000 or more within a year.

For each item a university does not report, the government can impose a 105% civil penalty. In other words, if the law were enforced, Carnegie Mellon could be on the hook to pay the entire $700 million, plus an additional $35 million, to Harrisburg.

Carnegie Mellon is one of the top recipients of Qatari funds in the United States. That’s because it operates a branch campus in Qatar. The Qatar Foundation, a government-run nonprofit, recruited Carnegie Mellon along with several Western universities in an effort to build up the small nation’s workforce.

Photo by Asamudra — Wikimedia Commons 


  • Neetu Arnold

    Neetu Arnold is a senior research associate at the National Association of Scholars. Follow her on Twitter @neetu_arnold.

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2 thoughts on “Carnegie Mellon isn’t being open about its relationship with Qatar

  1. Money talks. Rep. Omar’s daughter was recently suspended for getting arrested because of her anti-Semitic activities on campus. Well that college just re-instated all of those students and will clear their records. Gee, I wonder why? Let’s see. If 11 students were suspended, and don’t return after their suspension, at $90,000 tuition per year that’s one million bucks in lost tuition revenue.

  2. A timely post because Qatar, along with Kuwait, refused to let the US use its airspace to shoot down the Iranian fuselage headed toward Israel. Other Arab countries did…

    Qatar and Kuwait are becoming friends with the Iranians and while I may still be thinking in cold war terms, friends of the Iranians are not necessarily friends of ours.

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