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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Food Spirituality/Tradition The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    JNS.org – It’s widely known that Israel has penetrated the wine market, with some of its sophisticated Israeli blends surpassing historically excellent wines from areas such as the Napa Valley or Bordeaux. But what about beer? For decades, Israel has offered solely the Maccabi and Nesher brands. Not anymore. “There is a huge push of people making beer at home. The country is approaching over 30 craft breweries in the last year or two, making nearly 200 beers,” says Avi Moskowitz, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Actress Natalie Portman acted like a typical “Jewish mother” on the set of her latest movie, Jane Got a Gun, the Israeli-born star told the New York Post‘s Page Six on Sunday. The 34-year-old, who also co-produced the western, said she made it her job to look out for everyone involved in the project, because the film has had to overcome “so many obstacles,” such as losing its director early on. She explained: “Actors changed. We suffered financial and legal challenges. We endured so many replacements. There were delays. […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    “We’re looking very much forward to coming back to Israel this summer,” said the lead singer of the German rock band Scorpions in a video on Monday. “Make sure you don’t miss it because we rock you like a hurricane!” said a jovial Klaus Meine, quoting the band’s seminal 1984 anthem, “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” The hard rock band lands in Israel for a show at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena on July 14 as part of its 50th anniversary tour. It will be the band’s third time […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel were the two most immediate and authentic literary voices who gave witness to the Holocaust. Wiesel was an extrovert and a very public figure who wrote initially in French. Levi was a modest retiring chemist who wrote in Italian. Whereas Wiesel was rooted in the Eastern European Jewish Hassidic world, Levi was the product of an assimilated, secular Italian society that saw itself as Italian first and Jewish as an accident of birth. As Levi himself said, “At Auschwitz I […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Lifestyle Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    JNS.org – Wine has long been considered a social lubricant, and it’s Nir Lavie’s hope that wine from his Har Bracha Winery in the Samarian hills will serve as a social lubricant between the city-goers of Tel Aviv and the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, two locales split geographically, and often politically, on the left and right of the country. The new flagship store of Har Bracha has recently popped its corks on 190 Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Gentile Actor Zachary Levi Says He’s Denied Roles for Being ‘Too Jewish’

    Gentile Actor Zachary Levi Says He’s Denied Roles for Being ‘Too Jewish’

    Actor Zachary Levi said casting directors have denied him roles for being “too Jewish,” despite the fact that he is not a Jew, the New York Daily News‘ Confidenti@l reported on Wednesday. “I guess they were looking for more of a corn-fed, white boy look,” he said. “My family is from f****** Indiana! Come on, I’m like dying here!” The Thor star clarified that he is Welsh, and that Levi is actually his middle name, while his real last name is Pugh. He said he […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Spirituality/Tradition Tracing Chabad’s History and Success (REVIEW)

    Tracing Chabad’s History and Success (REVIEW)

    The secret of Chabad’s worldwide success is revealed by veteran Chabad shliach (emissary) Rabbi David Eliezrie in his new book, The Secret of Chabad. The Chabad movement was founded by Rabbi Schnur Zalman of Liadi, Belarus, in 1775. Years later it came to the US with the arrival of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn in 1940, after his escape from Nazi-occupied Warsaw. Upon his arrival in New York, a number of his co-religionists advised him that there was no place for traditional […]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Rapper B.o.B’s New Song Invoking Antisemitism, Holocaust Denial Has Jewish Group ‘Deeply Troubled’

    Rapper B.o.B’s New Song Invoking Antisemitism, Holocaust Denial Has Jewish Group ‘Deeply Troubled’

    A Jewish human rights organization expressed concern on Wednesday over a new song by a popular US rapper that includes lyrics promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories and cites a Holocaust denier, The Algemeiner has learned. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was responding to Tuesday’s release of B.o.B’s “Flatline,” the lyrics of which include: “But before you try to curve it, do your research on David Irving; Stalin was way worse than Hitler, That’s why the POTUS gotta wear a Kippa.” Irving is a historian who has questioned […]

    Read more →