But who cares? Those of us who want the obscene endowments of schools like Harvard Yale and Princeton seriously spent down will take our allies where we can. And UD thinks Reynolds is serious about these specific things:

We should eliminate the tax deductibility of contributions to schools having endowments in excess of $1 billion. At some point, as our president has said, you’ve made enough money. That won’t end all major donations to the Ivy League, but it will doubtless encourage donors to look at less wealthy and more deserving schools, such as Northern Kentucky University, recently deemed “more inspirational than Harvard” in the London Times Higher Education magazine.

We should require that all schools with endowments over $1 billion spend at least 10% of their endowment annually on student financial aid. That will make it easier for less wealthy students to attend elite institutions.

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8 Responses to “Glenn Reynolds means his modest proposal – abolish the Ivy League – in the same way Jonathan Swift meant his about eating the children of the poor.”

  1. john Says:

    I don’t think we’ll enact the first proposal as a matter of tax policy; nor do i think we should.

    payout being increased in favor of financial aid make sense as something to be pursued via moral suasion.

    but the reality is that really qualified poor people already don’t pay to go to elite overfunded schools and are we really arguing for free rides to rich kids just to soak up increased endowment payouts?

    harvard should figure out how to deliver very high quality education to a lot more people than come to their campus. the technology is pretty much here. they have the money.

  2. david foster Says:

    John…”harvard should figure out how to deliver very high quality education to a lot more people than come to their campus. the technology is pretty much here. they have the money.”

    A cynic might say that the high value of a Harvard degree stems in significant part from scarcity, and hence, regardless of technology or finances, their incentive is to maintain that scarcity. Think in terms of limited-edition prints.

  3. david foster Says:

    Years ago, way back in 1969, Peter Drucker wrote:

    “One thing it (modern society) cannot afford in education is the “elite institution” which has a monopoly on social standing, on prestige, and on the command positions in society and economy. Oxford and Cambridge are important reasons for the English brain drain. A main reason for the technology gap is the Grande Ecole such as the Ecole Polytechnique or the Ecole Normale. These elite institutions may do a magnificent job of education, but only their graduates normally get into the command positions. Only their faculties “matter.” This restricts and impoverishes the whole society…The Harvard Law School might like to be a Grande Ecole and to claim for its graduates a preferential position. But American society has never been willing to accept this claim…”

    Over the intervening 46 years, American society has come far closer to accepting “Grand Ecole” status for HLS and similar institutions than was the case when Professor Drucker wrote.

    Drucker (himself an Austrian) also wrote:

    “It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the strength of American higher education lies in this absence of schools for leaders and schools for followers. It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the engineer with a degree from North Idaho A. and M. is an engineer and not a draftsman.”

  4. Contingent Cassandra Says:

    I don’t have any strong feelings either way about the proposal (and John makes some good points). My chief reaction to proposals to reform just about anything about the Ivy League, however, is that doing so is analogous to strenuously polishing the figurehead of the Titanic while ignoring the much larger problems elsewhere on the ship. That analogy probably works whether you consider the ship to be the American higher-ed system, or the whole economic/social system.

    Also, some of the same arguments might be made about many other well-heeled nonprofit organizations that tend to serve their donor class more than anybody else (long-established high-culture arts organizations of various kinds come to mind). Much as I’d like to see the benefits of such endeavors spread much more widely, I’m not sure we want to go down that road.

    It might be better to concentrate on the chief donors and other ways they manage to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

  5. In the provinces Says:

    UD shows her extreme naivité once again, by praising right-wing blogger/”journalist” Glenn Reynolds, whose attack on those liberal Ivy League institutions stems from his ire at the pesky liberal professors there pointing out that the tax and budget plans of his preferred Republican presidential candidates don’t even come close to adding up.

    Then there’s the praise for the University of Northern Kentucky. Read the article; it’s about a senior thesis two students there wrote on public staircases in Cincinnati. An admirable piece of undergraduate research, sure, but nothing that’s not occurring among bright students everywhere–even in the Ivies.

    Finally, there’s that harping on the endowments and the amount spent on undergraduates. How many times is it necessary to reiterate that Ivy League universities do a lot of other things–like carry out world-class scientific research–which costs a lot of money. You can be sure that Reynolds is not about to advocate that the government provide those funds instead.

  6. Margaret Soltan Says:

    In the provinces: As my title indicates, I’m aware of where Reynolds is coming from.

  7. JND Says:

    “right-wing blogger”?

    How about libertarian blogger? I read Instapundit at least as often as I read UD. He has no love lost on crony capitalists, too-big-too-fail banks, or Republican elites.

  8. Chicago Boyz » Blog Archive » The Ivy League and American Society Says:

    […] University Diaries also has a post and discussion thread on Glenn’s column. […]

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