Philanthropy and Self-Interest

Harking back to discussions we had online when The Happy Tutor blogged among us, I have thought time after time about the relative sizes of the endowments of US higher education institutions compared with British universities. The Principal at my former employer once expostulated to me about my alma mater’s endowment (Wikipedia says $2.4 billion as of 2022), for fewer than 2,000 students; you may check the endowments of Oxford’s colleges, but you won’t find anything comparable (Christ Church comes in at £769,800,000, again according to Wikipedia, and my current employer Oriel College (founded 1326, so we’ve had time to build it up) a humble £86,524,000.

Now, by all means it’s vital to strengthen access to higher ed for the many underserved constituencies in Britain and the US — no question, absolutely. But you and I both know that many rich folk are interested not so much in making the world a better place as they are in making the world maybe a better place, but certainly a place that remembers them appreciatively. If you are that kind of person, or just a person who wants to support excellence of the highest order (perhaps even by increasing and supporting access!), let me know — cos I know several colleges that would be ecstatic to build an endowment one-tenth the size of Bowdoin’s. Your massive bequest might be a drop in the bucket at Harvard or Bowdoin, might be transformative at Howard, but you could have a transformative effect and your name plastered all the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Just saying…

2 thoughts on “Philanthropy and Self-Interest

    1. If you think I might have something to add, I can at least lurk. I don’t think I have anything in my diary for that time.

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