Iowa State University’s Department of Economics is working with the Charles Koch Foundation and other donors to create a new program for studying Midwest economies at the Ames-based public university.

Joshua Rosenbloom, chairman of the department, said he is confident that any final agreement reached between the university and the foundation will not influence any research by ISU faculty and students.

“We’re confident that the language that we’re talking about gives the protections we need,” Rosenbloom told the Register in a phone interview Monday.

With the agreement not yet finalized, Rosenbloom declined to provide specifics about how the university would use the funding. He confirmed, however, that $3.7 million was the maximum amount requested from the foundation and another donor.

His comments Monday came after the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported that emails show Rosenbloom decided to delay the program in December after faculty members raised concern about the funding source.

Billionaire Charles Koch is co-owner and CEO of Koch Industries. His foundation has given millions to university programs that promote libertarianism and faith in the free market.

“Your apparent willingness to consider an enticing funding opportunity for the Econ Department offered by the notoriously secretive and politically driven Charles Koch raises serious concerns regarding possible adverse effects on the academic reputation of the Econ Department,” professor Leigh Tesfatsion wrote Rosenbloom Dec. 2.

Several of the emails from December included Rosenbloom apologizing to colleagues for rushing a decision that, to some, has the potential of being seen as calling the academic standing of the department into question.

“Please accept my apologies for the handling of the Koch Foundation issue,”…