Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Smart University Giving

February 15, 2013 12:53 am 0 comments

Logo for the Diller Programs in Jewish Studies at the University of California-Berkeley.

With a flurry of good will and generosity, the Helen Diller Family Fund gave $5 million for Jewish studies in 1999 to the University of California at Berkeley to bring an Israeli professor to the university each year. The intent was partially to balance the anti-Israel invective that permeates that university. As Diller herself put it, “With the protesting and this and that, we need to get a real strong Jewish studies program in there. Hopefully, it will be enlightening to have a visiting professor.” The appointing committee promised that visiting scholars’ political beliefs would not be considered, while Diller indicated her confidence in the committee.

But the Helen Diller Family Programs in Jewish Studies from the start went awry. The university used the funds to hire Oren Yiftachel, a viciously anti-Zionist professor who holds that “Israel has created a colonial setting, held through violent control and a softening illusion of a nation-state and democratic citizenship.” This left the donor displeased and frustrated; in the words of Moment magazine’s Liel Liebowitz, “having given the endowment, there was nothing she could do but wince.”

As Martin Kramer noted in a review of the Diller case, “academic administrators can be pretty sharp dealers on their own turf.” Having served as an academic administrator, Kramer reveals the drill: “You take the money, you cut the donor’s strings by invoking academic freedom, and you turn the resources to what you think is worthy.” He draws an important conclusion from this sorry tale: “Outside money is wasted in an attempt to cut across the political grain of a department, program, or center. It works best at reinforcing a priority that the professors have already set for themselves.”

Indeed, Diller’s experience is part of a larger pattern; donors to universities wish to support a specific academic study or program, only to find its wishes hijacked and the funds used for something quite different, or even exactly contrary to their wishes. Lee Bass gave $20 million to Yale University in 1991; when he expressed dismay at their use, his funds handed back to him along with a lecture on how the university “never” accepts a gift with conditions. The Robertson family wanted to take control of the giant $558 million Robertson Foundation at Princeton University out of frustration that the university had applied the money to purposes other than set out by the foundation.

When universities defy donor wishes by insisting that academic freedom requires donors not to have more than advisory control over the use of their funds, donors wishing to fund higher education that “cut across the political grain” have reason to expect their wishes will be ignored.

The Solution

To escape this predicament, National Review started its short-lived “National Review Collegiate Giving Clubs” in 2010 with the intent to support teaching that is pro-American, pro-free markets, and pro-Judeo-Christian tradition. In a similar spirit, Anne D. Neal and Michael B. Poliakoff of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni published in 2011 the second edition of their helpful Intelligent Donor’s Guide to College Giving focused on making the right choices when giving money to universities, offering such sound advice as “be selective,” “define your goals,” “look under the hood,” “select the best,” and “find a faculty friend.”

These initiatives however, accept the existing donor-university relationship and the inevitability that donors will have little say over the disposition of their funds. I should like to challenge this assumption and propose an alternative: rather than endow institutions, as is presently the case, donors should offer to pay the operating expenses for individual scholars.

In this scenario, the donor chooses a scholar whose work and outlook reflects his own interests and views, then offers to pay for the scholar’s salary and associated expenses (such as research assistants). The pairing made, donor and scholar form a team. The donor then offers the scholar’s expenses-paid services to a university. As long as the scholar teaches at that university, the donor (or his estate) covers the scholar’s expenses. When the scholar leaves, retires, is incapacitated or dies, the funds paying for him evaporate.

This approach guarantees that the donor’s funds remain permanently under his control or that of his estate, eliminating the problem of donors funding what they do not wish to support. In particular, this method permits conservative or pro-Israel donors to fund professors of their choosing. It fundamentally changes the power balance. Over time, this could make a significant difference in university life.

Needed Changes

Offered funds on these terms, university administrators will likely bridle and resist, recognizing the implied shift in power. Presumably, they will not accept a donor’s money if limited to funding a single scholar, but will insist on sticking to the traditional pattern of capital gifts turned over to the university. This resistance precludes individual donors from effecting change on their own; they need, rather, to organize under the auspices of a sophisticated, well-funded institution.

That institution will have to oversee the complex process of (1) inspiring, bringing together, and guiding donors, especially generous and prominent ones, in a common purpose, (2) serving as a clearing house to match donors and scholars, (3) finding a suitable university for each team, (4) counseling teams as they negotiate with universities, and (5) monitoring the scholars and notifying donors when they leave a university’s employ.

This approach also requires donors to change their ways. First, it means abandoning the traditional focus on one’s alma mater in favor of being prepared to donate to any worthy institution. That means shifting from a sentimental outlook to a strategic one, carrying less about the football team and more about resisting the Left’s sustained efforts at indoctrination. Second, it means forgoing the prospect of memorializing their families or themselves in perpetuity. Third, it requires advance planning so that, should a donor be seeking a tax write off, the scholar and the institution are available for quick action within the calendar year. These changes imply a sea change in outlook and consciousness among alumni awake to the Left’s hegemony at American universities.

The donor-scholar team has to be prepared to be rebuffed, especially in the early years, and be ready to try one university after another until it finds one willing to accept the new terms. Hundreds of major institutions of higher learning exist in the United States; presumably, this novel approach will begin with the financially weaker institutions which can less afford to turn down the funds and the scholar.

There is no denying the challenges to implementing this idea of donor-scholar teams. But donors have strengths that they are not at present exploiting: money talks, universities feel a financial pinch, and potential donors feel increasingly frustrated by universities’ left-wing tilt.

Although donors taking control of the money they donate to professorships helps solve only one small part of this vast picture, that of elite faculty, this mechanism provides important, fresh ideas to challenge stale orthodoxies. As such, it will weaken the Left’s death-grip on university life.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org), founder of Campus Watch, has taught at Harvard, Pepperdine, the U.S. Naval War College, and the University of Chicago. This article was originally published by Philanthropy Today.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Theater US & Canada Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie — ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie — ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Famed actor Seth Rogen on Tuesday unveiled with typical comic fanfare the trailer for his new Christmas film. The movie “was made by Jews… and opens on Thanksgiving,” Rogen pointed out on Twitter. The Night Before tells the tale of three “ride or die homies” celebrating one last debauchery-filled Christmas Eve reunion before they become too busy to keep up their annual tradition. In an effort to make the night as memorable as possible, they set out to find the “Nutcracka Ball – the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish History Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    A June 2015 art exhibit, “The Transformative Power of Art,” at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, harnessed the universal language of art to convey an important message: “Our fragile Mother Earth faces the devastating consequences of climate change, a defining challenge of our time.” The exhibit also included sixteen portraits of people from all over the world who have “contributed to the common good of humanity in one way or another and have transformed the way we […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    A 32-year-old Circassian Israeli Muslim Mixed Martial Arts fighter from Abu Ghosh says he takes pride in fighting under the Israeli flag, Israel’s Walla reported on Sunday. Like most Circassian Israelis, Jackie “the Punishment” Gosh was born Sunni Muslim. He became observant about eight years ago, and is now scrupulous in following his religion’s tenets, praying five times a day and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Gosh is also very proud of his Israeli nationality, and sees no contradiction between […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    A new documentary explores the lives and work of Jewish and Arab rappers in Israel and how the ongoing conflict in the region has impacted their lyrics, the U.K.’s Jewish Chronicle reported on Thursday. Hip Hop in the Holy Land is a six-part series co-directed by Mike Skinner, the British frontman of hip-hop group The Streets, and produced by Noisey, a music channel published by Vice news. The first episode, published last week, shows Skinner meeting with Tamer Nafar, the founder of one of […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada 49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    New 49ers running back and Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne apologized on Wednesday for a tweet in which he raised the age-old myth that Jews were historically responsible for Jesus Christ’s death. Reaching out to his Jewish fans, and the chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, Hayne tweeted: “To the Jewish community @DvirAbramovich #WeAreAllOne.” Underneath, he keenly included a screenshot of a text message to elaborate on his apology: “I sincerely apologize for my tweets on July 1. I […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot reminisced about her childhood in Israel during an interview published in this month’s edition of Vanity Fair. “I don’t remember this, but my mom told me that when I was three they threw a party on the rooftop of the house. They put me to bed, and I heard people coming into the house and no one came to me. I went to the rooftop and took a hose and I started to spray water on everyone, just […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    An Israeli organization is helping wounded U.S. veterans move past their physical and psychological challenges by connecting them with injured Israeli soldiers who understand what they’ve been through. “What we discovered very early is that there’s no ‘professional, psychiatrist, social worker’ or anything like that [or] pills that can come even close to helping a soldier who fought in combat, who was wounded, who lost his friends. No one can help him like another person who’s been through exactly what he has,” Rabbi Chaim Levine, […]

    Read more →
  • Relationships World Researchers Say Women Less Likely Than Men to Kill Hitler, if They Could Travel Back in Time

    Researchers Say Women Less Likely Than Men to Kill Hitler, if They Could Travel Back in Time

    Women are less likely than men to want to kill Nazi leader Adolph Hitler if given the ability to travel back in time, a recently published research paper revealed. The paper analyzed 40 studies involving 6,100 respondents in a time-travel thought experiment, the New York Post reported on Friday. While 60 percent of men said they would theoretically be willing to kill Hitler, only 55 percent of women said they would be comfortable doing the same. The paper was published in the Personality and […]

    Read more →