Donor Rescinds $2.5-Million Pledge to Stanford as Exxon Touts Its Work With University

March 11, 2007

The movie producer Steve Bing has rescinded a $2.5-million pledge to Stanford University after Exxon Mobil began an advertising campaign touting its collaboration with the university in a huge project to conduct energy and climate research, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

The $225-million project, announced in 2002, is worth up to $100-million to Stanford over 10 years, and scientists and activists had questioned from the start whether the company was using the deal to “greenwash” its environmental reputation.

Mr. Bing, who has already donated $22.5-million to the university, echoed those concerns in comments relayed through a colleague, Yusef Robb, who works with him on climate issues. “Exxon Mobil is trying to greenwash itself, and it’s using Stanford as its brush,” Mr. Robb said. “We think that people who give to Stanford do so because they want to help the future leaders of this nation, not because they want to advance the agenda of Exxon Mobil.”

Stanford officials declined to comment on Mr. Bing’s decision, but defended the university’s collaboration with corporate partners.