Why do philanthropists give so much to universities?

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Anaxagoras
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Why do philanthropists give so much to universities?

Post by Anaxagoras »

Why not elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, nursery schools?

You hear about these big-shot Ivy League universities with billions in endowment money, while public schools in lower income areas have major money problems. It's like giving charity to someone who's already rich.
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Re: Why do philanthropists give so much to universities?

Post by Doctor X »

A university is more likely to keep your name on a building.

Public schools come and go.

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Bruce
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Re: Why do philanthropists give so much to universities?

Post by Bruce »

Public schools are run by the government and teachers unions.

And they will still ask for demand more money, if not from grants then from taxes.

Universities also tend to be more respectful with grant money. If you say that you want the money to be spent on a swimming pool with a giant picture of you on the bottom, they'll do that. They'll even keep it in good shape.

Public schools spend the money however they want, and as DocX points out, they won't even put your name on a gold plate half the time.

Small colleges are even more grateful because they rely heavily on philanthropy.

I used to go to Adrian College in Michigan. We had some wealthy donors that were religious. For religious people, they were pretty tolerant of the very liberal college, but they drew the line at gay marriage. They threatened to pull the funding on a new athletic center that was being built if a gay marriage to place, and they followed through with their threat.

Adrian College had their first gay marriage, and the rest of us didn't get the swimming pool or recreation center. Good for them. Did I mention that the gay couple got divorced and dropped out a month later? Yep. If I remember correctly, they didn't even take any classes or pay a dime in tuition. They enrolled just long enough to take their vows in the college chapel with the approval from the college president. Damn I hated that college. Not just for that, but for many other awful administrative decisions.

And they still ask me for money. It's amazing. I've never once given them my address when I move. They can track me down better than the IRS. If I actually had any money to spare, I would sooner give it to my high school.

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Re: Why do philanthropists give so much to universities?

Post by Bearguin »

Bruce wrote: And they still ask me for money. It's amazing. I've never once given them my address when I move. They can track me down better than the IRS. If I actually had any money to spare, I would sooner give it to my high school.
Same with my University. Not only that, but they track my parents down trying to get in touch with me. It's been fucking 30 years since I went, have never given them a dime and they still chase me.

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Re: Why do philanthropists give so much to universities?

Post by Anaxagoras »

Someone must have been thinking along the same lines:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-1 ... erica.html
College endowments totaled $448.6 billion in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013, an increase of 11.7 percent compared with a year earlier, according to recently released data.

As we know, this wealth is concentrated among a privileged few. Harvard, Yale and Princeton universities all have almost $2 million in endowment funds for every student.

We've heard the argument that what these institutions do with their privately raised money is their business and that they provide a lot of financial aid opportunities for less affluent students. But these endowments are of dubious value and can be attacked on two grounds. First, they promote inefficiency through misallocation of resources. Second, they are anti-meritocratic.

Regarding inefficiency, Adam Smith got it right more than 200 years ago in "The Wealth of Nations." College endowments, he said, "have necessarily diminished more or less the necessity of application in the teachers." At the University of Oxford, he complained, "public professors have, for these many years, given up altogether even the pretense of teaching.”

This sounds similar to situations at some universities today. Before endowments were large, professors sometimes had to earn their salaries by collecting tuition fees from students. When endowments provided professors a guaranteed salary, the incentive of offering high-quality instruction to paying students largely disappeared.

The negative consequences of endowments as well as other third-party subsidies (state appropriations, alumni donations, foundation grants) are huge. Faculty can neglect students to do obscure research that no one uses or reads. Endowments have also enabled university administrative bureaucracies to explode.

Compare private universities, which rely heavily on endowments, with public universities, which rely much less on them. Adjusting for enrollments, administrative staffs have grown more robustly at the highly endowed private schools.

. . .
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Bruce
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Re: Why do philanthropists give so much to universities?

Post by Bruce »

Anaxagoras wrote: The negative consequences of endowments as well as other third-party subsidies (state appropriations, alumni donations, foundation grants) are huge. Faculty can neglect students to do obscure research that no one uses or reads. Endowments have also enabled university administrative bureaucracies to explode.
This part didn't surprise me.

The part that surprised me what that this was a recognized problem 200 years ago. :o

They forgot to mention that graduate students are forced to do the teaching for the professors, as well as the work for all the obscure research that nobody cares about or reads, all on a stipend that's not enough to live on, not to mention no benefits or insurance of any kind. The professor usually takes the credit for the work too.
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