Monday, October 22, 2007

Bloomberg On The Rise of the Mega-Gifts

The obligatory Bloomberg "mega-gift" post. (Does anyone else feel like we're talking about Mega-Tron from Transformers? I digress.)

Apparently, President Pamela Gann of Claremont McKenna was on to something with
the Robert A. Day gift, despite the sentiments of those who opposed it. We're mentioned multiple times throughout the article as an example of small liberal arts colleges challenging the fund raising behemoth that is the Ivy League. And apparently, the rest of the liberal arts colleges are working on expanding their own endowments.

Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts surpassed its $400 million capital campaign goal in June. Vermont's Middlebury College is almost halfway to its $500 million target, the most ambitious yet for any liberal arts institution. Claremont McKenna College in California received a record $200 million last month from investor Robert Day.
The article continues, addressing some of the "signature gifts" that Claremont McKenna is known for. The first bit I haven't heard about. Does anyone know anything about this campaign that's to be announced next year?

Claremont McKenna, with about 1,150 students, started soliciting gifts in March 2006 and plans to go public with the campaign next year.

Day's Donation

The school, founded in 1946, received $200 million in September from Day, an economics major who started TCW Group Inc., a Los Angeles-based investment firm that manages $70 billion. The gift will support students specializing in finance, accounting and leadership psychology.

His donation followed a $20 million gift by the Seattle- based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fund science scholarships.

George Roberts, co-CEO of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., gave $20 million in October 2006. Roberts, a 1966 graduate, is seeking $40 million in matching gifts from other donors to create endowed faculty chairs. His initiative is more than halfway to its goal, showing that a culture of philanthropy has taken hold among alumni, said Claremont McKenna President Pamela Gann.

`Big Partner'

``People feel that they can have a high impact at a liberal arts college,'' the 58-year-old Gann said. ``A $20 million gift goes a lot further here than at a research university today. I think that matters. People feel like, `Oh, I'm a big partner.' And you are.''

Exit questions and my modest proposal: If donors put down $20 million gifts, will "big partners" want big control over how their money is spent and what control are we as an institution prepared to give them? Why don't Claremont McKenna and the other Claremont Colleges combine their resource departments and get one super-mega gift? If U.S. News and World Report is a problem, the gift could be allocated by percentage of alums to the schools for a larger, one school mission. For example, if former Scrippsies give 13% of the gift, than they get 13% of the gift for the purposes of reporting. The gifts could combine for one larger (and better) library, but still effect each individual colleges' rating. Just a thought.




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