No: Gifts with Strings Can Choke Higher Education

By Williams, David K. | Insight on the News, July 3, 1995 | Go to article overview

No: Gifts with Strings Can Choke Higher Education


Williams, David K., Insight on the News


Alumni of America's 3,500 colleges and universities supported their alma maters at unprecedented levels in 1994, providing almost $3.5 billion. Those gifts took a variety of forms, from simply under-writing the annual operating costs of the institutions to endowing scholarships or building new facilities. At some schools, however, alumni gifts were restricted to tightly defined causes -- with unto-ward results.

Attaching ideological strings to a gift undermines the democratic nature of America's higher-education system. The $20 million offered to Yale University by alumnus Lee Bass in exchange for the establishment of a Western civilization curriculum -- and his subsequent request to select specific faculty to teach it -- is the most dramatic instance of such conditioned giving.

Colleges and universities endure a tempestuous relationship with restricted gifts. Increasingly, presidents and fundraisers are faced with squeamish decisions about whether accepting a gift compromises an institution's integrity.

Should Yale have allowed Bass to have a role in choosing faculty for the curriculum he wanted introduced? Should a Virginia institution have accepted a $1 million scholarship fund from which $50,000 would have been earmarked for the student finishing last in the class to serve a donor's vengeful ego for having earned poor grades?

For many strapped colleges and universities, especially those in the private sector, the answer is "yes." Without alumni giving, some of those colleges would have to reduce essential programs or drop less-popular programs or departments that aren't attractive to grant-making foundations.

At Ripon College in Wisconsin, alumni giving consistently accounts for more than 40 percent of philanthropic support. Individual giving to higher education continues to be the most important source of philanthropic dollars, far surpassing corporate and foundation contributions combined.

Keep in mind that no student pays the full cost of the degree he or she earns. State taxpayers subsidize publicly supported institutions and private donors help make up the difference at private schools. At institutions less well-endowed than Yale, endowment gifts such as the one offered by Bass would be a cause for celebration -- or a collective gulp if returned.

Unfortunately, restricted giving is on the rise nationwide. Fund-raisers are partly responsible; they seek to match the interest areas of donors with the needs of the college. Of the $3.5 billion in gifts to higher education last year, reports the Council for Aid to Education, more than 75 percent was restricted by the donor for specified programs. Corporate America has been leading that trend with what many corporate contribution managers describes as "self-serving philanthropy," such as giving to benefit the communities in which plants and offices are located or promoting research on products the corporation markets. The days of unrestricted corporate support of the liberal arts have gone the way of politically incorrect mascots.

But the role of alumni giving is an essential, perhaps pivotal, ingredient in the funding mix that keeps America's system of higher education the strongest and most sought after in the world. When Nobel Prizes are awarded each year, the majority of recipients have received their degrees from U.S. institutions. Ask any admissions dean how many foreign students are lined up for the limited number of positions, and the even more limited scholarship dollars, for international students.

The United States is both a nation of immigrants and a nation that has revered education for most of our 200-plus years -- precisely because we recognize the advantage it bestows. America's rich history of achievements in science, medicine, technology, literature and so many other fields is rooted in its higher-education system. And the nation's continued success is dependent upon the continued vitality of its colleges and universities. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

No: Gifts with Strings Can Choke Higher Education
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.