And indeed I have covered some of the most obnoxious; but let us consider more pleasant things. Curtis Institute, the school that educated the unearthly Yuja Wang, just got an anonymous $20 million donation.
Anonymous: How about that? And given so that the world can be more musical. How about that.
An understandable error! Most people cannot comprehend/believe that one university’s endowment is over fifty billion dollars; and Harvard will be at one hundred billion before you know it, which will be that much harder to assimilate as a reality.
Even a New York Times opinion writer (plus, UD assumes, a bunch of editors who reviewed her column) finds herself rendering a reasonably large endowment as an amount in the hundreds of millions, rather than as an amount exceeding the GDP of 120 nations.
Here’s a simple trick to help you remember: Just repeat aloud ten times FIFTY BILL FIFTY BILL with a stress on the b.
The second most radical option would be for the Ivy League to abolish what is called “ALDC” — athletics, legacy, dean’s list and children of faculty and staff. Forty-three per cent of Harvard’s intake come from one of these groups. The first, athletics, includes sports that can only be learned by the privileged, such as lacrosse, sailing and rowing. The generous athletics intake by universities is why so many recent admission corruption scandals, such as the FBI’s Varsity Blues sting operation, involved athletics directors. Contrary to popular opinion, most athletics scholars are not black basketball players. Sixty-five per cent are white.
This is in the Financial Times, all of whose readers, one assumes, passionately disagree with these options.
And then there’s the author, Edward Luce himself!
… benddownments. As in bend down (I guess bend over would convey it better) and take it. We already have $32.3 billion, but you still have to pay almost $60,000 tuition and we’re going to dun you for huge donations for the rest of your life, even though
Student tuition at places like Harvard is now almost an afterthought. It runs on a budget of about $4.2 billion a year in spending. Tuition, fees, room and board at the full price of $58,607 for its 6,700 undergraduates would amount to $393 million, or less than 10 percent. And after taking need-based tuition reductions into account, the university collects only about half that projected total from undergrads. So for $200 million a year, Harvard could be totally free to all undergraduate students.
And does it sometimes run through your mind to wonder what just a few … afterthought expenditures from the tens of billions of dollars sitting in Harvard’s funds might do for the… uh… world? Well, shush. It’s all gonna be okay. You’re gonna grow up to be a hedge fund manager with the sort of ego that needs a biz school building at Harvard with your name on it much more than you need to help some obscure village full of suffering people. People who need schools or whatever. Relax.
… or whatever you call it when hundreds and hundreds of people link to something. I’m delighted. Reuters has also linked to the post.
Besides the obvious question of why managers of a nonprofit educational institution were making hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps it’s time to ask if this is a rational way to actually fund higher education.
Dollars and Sense
… a New York Times reporter interviews its latest money manager.
The writer describes a recent bit of history quite unfairly:
[Jack] Meyer racked up a stellar record running [Harvard’s] endowment, putting [its] returns second only to Yale’s. But complaints about the size of managers’ pay packages, relative to the academics’ pay, ultimately prompted Mr. Meyer and many of his acolytes to leave in 2005.
The people who protested the thirty million dollar a year salaries of Meyer and his boys were mainly alumni, not faculty. Their argument was not a comparative but an absolute one. No one human being should take away thirty million dollars a year from a job. The word they used was obscene, not relative.
This was not a pay equity case, with professors lusting after their own thirty million. This was a case of a group of alumni whose protest prevailed (Harvard management salaries have been lowered) as soon as the managers’ tens of millions hit the New York Times. Public outrage sealed the deal.
UPDATE: From Forbes.
Meyer built a Wall Street-like trading operation and managed most of HMC’s money in-house. It looked like a giant hedge fund, and it had paychecks to match. A high-level HMC manager would make as much as $35 million in good years. Those sums triggered what became an annual Harvard tradition: first, the disclosure (compelled by tax laws applying to nonprofits) of the HMC bonuses, followed by an outcry led by the late William Strauss and a group of Harvard alumni from his class of 1969.
What a tangled fuckup we weave, when first we practice to make a university a trading operation… Okay, UD‘s going to help Harvard out here.
Here’s what you do. Figure Meyer plus four other guys each took home … let’s low-ball it… twenty million dollars a year. So… 100 million altogether? Figure they did this for five years… Five years of that and you’re talking about a serious rainy-day fund.
So what you do is ask these people to return as much of this money as seems to them appropriate. No doubt, since they care more about Harvard than personal greed, these people have already approached the university asking what they can do. It’s just a matter of Harvard formalizing the process.
… Harvard, which compels its undergraduates to master expository writing in their freshman year, cannot find the language to defend itself [in its letter about Claudine Gray’s resignation]. The corporation does not apologize or explain. Instead, it throws up its hands in prayer: “May our community, with its long history of rising through change and through storm, find new ways to meet those challenges together, and to affirm Harvard’s commitment to generating knowledge, pursuing truth and contributing through scholarship and education to a better world.”
The clouds of mystification gather early. Can a nearly 400-year-old entity that began as a seminary for young Protestant men and grew into a global educational brand with a $50 billion endowment be said in any meaningful sense to constitute a community? The sentence then succumbs to a storm of clattering prose and conceptual incoherence. It’s hard to know just what or how many things Harvard is committed to, or what new ways of affirming that commitment might be found.
… because of that school’s perceived inadequate response to the Hamas atrocities, you know how this blog — which for years has condemned anyone giving anything to an institution currently hoarding close to fifty four billion dollars — feels. Same goes for other obscenely overendowed Ivies. If this event helps narcissistic hedgies discover legitimate uses for their charity, tant mieux.