Monday, October 15, 2007
Happy Islamofascism Awareness Week!
2. Protecting the self-esteem of terrorists:
3. Gore Nicht:
A scientist outs Gore:
4. An idea desperately needed for Israeli universities:
Alms for the Alma Mater
By NAOMI SCHAEFER RILEY
October 13, 2007; Page A10
It's been 16 years since Texas billionaire Lee Bass gave $20 million to
Yale to start a Western civilization program, and 12 years since he took
it back. Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus wants to make sure that Mr.
Bass's experience is never repeated.
Between 1991 and 1995, Mr. Bass repeatedly sought assurances that his
money wouldn't be dumped into multicultural education. He kept asking the
university's president, Richard Levin, when the program, which was to
include a one-year mandatory course for freshman, would materialize. When
it became clear that the liberal faculty's objections to Mr. Bass's gift
had won the day, he asked for his money back. And Yale reluctantly
The Robertson family at Princeton has not been so lucky. In 1961, Charles
and Marie Robertson (an heiress to the A&P supermarket fortune), donated
$35 million to the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University to
prepare students for careers in government service. The Robertsons'
descendants now claim that the university has diverted the funds to
projects completely unrelated to this mission. In 2002, they sued
Princeton to reclaim the endowment, now estimated to be nearly $500
million. Five years later, they still haven't gotten a refund.
How can donors be sure that the money they give will go to fund the things
they want? Mr. Marcus says it is time to hold administrators' feet to the
fire. Along with John M. Templeton Jr. and the John William Pope
Foundation, Mr. Marcus has provided the seed money ($5 million) for the
Center for Excellence in Higher Education (CEHE). The Indianapolis-based
center, launched last month, aims to help donors "use philanthropy as a
lever to reform higher education," says Frederic Fransen, its executive
director. Reform includes a greater emphasis on core curricula, a
free-market understanding of economics, a more balanced approach to
politics, affordable tuition, tenured faculty who spend more time in the
classroom, greater transparency in university governance, and an end to
"For a buck, universities would do anything," Mr. Marcus said in a recent
interview. "We are seeing more anti-Western, anti-Israel and
anti-democracy sentiment on campus" these days, he observed, adding wryly,
"The Saudis are paying an enormous amount of money for that." Mr. Marcus
would like to compete. He has found, unfortunately, that the universities
are generally hostile to the economic and political system that has
allowed businessmen like him to thrive. "My success in life is because of
free enterprise," he says. But "colleges don't teach this." And the tales
of Mr. Bass and the Robertsons give Mr. Marcus and his cohort pause.
University administrations have often ignored "donor intent" when spending
the proceeds from a particular gift. And thanks to an antiquated hiring
system and a faculty that will scream "infringement on academic freedom"
any time an outsider tries to exert some influence, the problems in higher
education have become entrenched.
There are donors with the money to get around these problems -- to create
entirely new schools or departments within a university. But how do you
get a university to agree to, say, starting a separate school devoted to
the study of free enterprise? And make sure they'll stick to the plan once
they cash your check? CEHE will help donors (free of charge) craft
contracts with universities to ensure their money is used properly. It
will also perform due diligence on these gifts once the agreement is
Mr. Marcus, who has given tens of millions to universities including
Georgia Tech and Emory, emphasizes that the restrictions on gifts "must be
reasonable." He expects that the universities will resist, but that
they'll quickly change their tune if a donor threatens to take his
business somewhere else.
CEHE will offer a way for philanthropists to do just that. If a donor has,
say, $10 million to give for a particular purpose, he can ask the center
to sponsor a contest among three or four different schools, each
submitting a proposal detailing how the money would be spent. "Competition
tends to have the impact of bringing out the best," says Dr. Templeton, of
the Templeton Foundation, which regularly runs such contests. Starting
next year, CEHE will manage contests in the areas of military history and
strategy, Middle East studies, entrepreneurship and business history, and
the principles of the American founding.
Within five years, the center's leaders expect that it will be helping to
control at least $200 million worth of donations, and within 10 years,
perhaps, as much as $1.5 billion. Of course even that amount is only 3% of
the market share in higher education philanthropy.
Mr. Fransen is aware of the center's limitations. "Giving to Harvard
doesn't do any good. You can't change them no matter how big your gift."
He hopes CEHE can influence the top colleges and universities, but he also
notes that it may be second-tier institutions that are "hungrier" and
willing to work harder for the money. Indeed, if the center succeeds, it
won't just be students who learn more about the free market.
Ms. Riley, who has received grants from the Templeton Foundation, is the
Journal's deputy Taste editor.
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