Should You Give to Harvard?

That’s the ques­tion that The Ethi­cist asks in The New York Times. Below, I present the issue and part of the answer. Read through it all and tell us where you stand on the issue.

The Issue

The fis­cal year for major uni­ver­si­ty endow­ments end­ed June 30, and schools have been report­ing their results: not good. In the Har­vard-Yale port­fo­lio game, the lat­ter was down 24.6 per­cent, while its rival lost even more, 27.3 per­cent. If you are an Ivy alum, this might seem a good moment to donate to your alma mater, to help rebuild its bat­tered port­fo­lio. But should you, giv­en the pow­er of edu­ca­tion to improve people’s lives?

The Argu­ment

Do not donate to Har­vard. To do so is to offer more pie to a port­ly fel­low while the gaunt and hun­gry press their faces to the win­dow (at some sort of metaphor­ic col­lege cafe­te­ria, any­way). Even after last year’s loss­es, Harvard’s endow­ment exceeds $26 bil­lion, the largest of any Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ty, greater than the G.D.P. of Esto­niaBy con­trast, among his­tor­i­cal­ly black col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties, Howard has the largest endow­ment, about $420 mil­lion, a mere 1.6 per­cent the size of Harvard’s. (Donors gave Har­vard more than $600 mil­lion just this fis­cal year.) The best-endowed com­mu­ni­ty col­lege,Valen­cia, in Orlan­do, Fla., has around $67 mil­lion, or 0.26 per­cent of Harvard’s wealth. This is not to deny that Har­vard does fine work or could find ways to spend the mon­ey but to assert that oth­er schools have a greater need and a greater moral claim to your benev­o­lence…  More here.

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