Is Princeton the “World’s Worst Charity”?

Hey Columbia! Congrats on the $100 million donation! 100,000,000 is a rather large number and you can probably build a lot of stuff, maybe even a 450,000 square feet expansion to your business school (to be precise). But not everyone’s happy. In fact, some think this is all downright “loathsome.” Gawker took this opportunity to decry the general phenomenon of the Big Fat Ivy League Donation, and they raised some worthy points along the way.

The point is, elite universities are terrible choices for huge donations. Supporting education in America is a worthy cause; but there are many, many more effective ways to help the masses than giving millions to Ivy League schools. No matter what those schools’ endowment officers tell you, they do not really “need” that money, not in the same way that, for example, clinics in sub-Saharan Africa need it. Furthermore, most rich people do not give money to fancy schools out of a desire to improve education in America. According to academic research, hey [sic] give in order to make it easier for their own children to get into those schools. Or, in the case of people like Kravis, they give in order to have a building named for themselves at their alma mater, so that the legacy of their Gilded Age travails may be spread to generation upon generation of bored business school student.

It’s an argument worth listening to. After all, we are sitting pretty at a cool $13,386,280,000 in endowment as of 2009 — and there’s no doubt a lot of that was received in colossal chunks just like this one. So are we just complacent witnesses to this “moral crime”?

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Google’s Gift To Princeton

400px-Eric_E_Schmidt,_2005_(looking_left)You know those afternoons when you’re feeling bored, and lazy, and vaguely regretful that you didn’t go to Yale? And you decide to kill time / seek reassurance by reading Princeton’s Wikipedia Page? And click onto the Notable Alumni list (if Brooke Shields ’87 can make something of herself than so can you, dammit!)?

Eventually you get down to the listing that reads, “Eric E. Schmidt B.S.E. 1976 – CEO of Google“. And you think to yourself, “Whoa, who knew?  This guy, like, rules the world! And must be loaded like a Saudi Prince! Wait — why isn’t there anything at Princeton named after him?”

Now there is.

photo: Charles Haynes