My feeling is that the downside of donors' interests has grown considerably. There have always been famous problems in this regard--donors who are only interested in sports and who then insist that the university spend heavily on sports beyond what even well-heeled donors provide in this respect, or the occasional politically active donor who gives money to support a program and is then furious when the result is not what they expected in political terms. The former continues unabated, more or less; the latter has resulted in universities doing more to sequester extremely partisan gifts in less-visible and less-transparent institutes, centers, and outright sinecures for some well-connected hack professor, some of which come pretty close to money laundering opportunities/reputation-buying (ahem, Epstein and the Media Lab plus all the other similar donations he gave or tried to give). I think once upon a time, most advancement/development offices knew better than to accept money that would create something that the rest of the institution would find odious, but now I don't think most of them care very much.

The more troubling thing I see happening more is that trustees and potential donors are way, way more inclined to interfere with the actual management of the institution than they used to, typically to enforce their own views on cost control, merit pay, talent retention (or more typically the opposite, cutting the payroll). When I first started in academia, at the institutions I knew well, the trustees were mostly hail-fellow-well-met nice folks who would never dream of seriously fucking around with the management of the institution unless there was a really serious crisis and they were expressly asked for advice, and if they were overbearing, it was usually *just* about something they had donated megabucks to. Now I think it's very much in the other direction--a lot of hedge fund/investment/finance professionals who act more and more like they're a private equity firm that just bought the place.

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Aug 15Liked by Paul Musgrave

Kerr must have made that statement when many schools (not the UCal system, to be sure) were still single-sex. And even Cal must have had parietals far beyond anything that would fly at a state school today (or even ten years after he made his comment - I guess he saw the quickly oncoming future).

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I thought about including the Stanford number but they yak yak yak about all the ways your gift will matter by supporting a chair etc etc: it's $4 million per professorship, flat. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1IMuHVg0JCIsYUAx8D_jiQLn5cOtmlBqF/view

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