Friday, June 15, 2007

Brief History of Philanthropy in American Higher Education

(Text by Michael Lorenzen. Used with permission of the author)

In American higher education, philanthropy is a big deal. From the construction of buildings, upgrade of athletic facilities, the funding of faculty positions, and the build up of the institutional endowment, fund raising is important in academia. Most higher education administrators spend a lot of time engaged in philanthropic work. It has not always been this way though.

Alkin (1992) wrote, “The increasing size, diversity, professionalism, and activism of private philanthropy have made it a powerful actor in education during the twentieth century” (p. 1001). However, it took a large amount of time for this to happen. There can be no certainty when the first philanthropic action was taken on behalf of an institution of higher education in the United States. However, three clergymen from Massachusetts are recorded as having raised 500 pounds for Harvard College, Yale College, and William and Mary College in the 1600s (Gurin and Til, 1990).

George Whitefield was an English preacher who toured what would become the United States of America in 1739. He was a major player in the religious Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s. In his preaching, he advocated for philanthropy for the poor, disaster survivors, and institutions of higher education such as Harvard and Dartmouth (Cutlip, 1965; Gurin & Til, 1990).

The first collegiate alumni society was founded in 1821 at Williams College (Brittingham & Pezzullo, 1990). Other private institutions followed suit with the first public university alumni societies forming in the early 20th century (Dolibois, 1977). These alumni societies provided colleges and universities with a new way to solicit funds from their graduates. As an example, Harvard University successfully completed an alumni fund raising drive in 1905 with a total of $2.4 million (Cutlip, 1965). In 1891, the Kansas University Endowment Association was formed at the University of Kansas with the direct intent of getting funds from alumni (Worth, 1982). Legon (2005) wrote that the earliest collegiate foundations were established to "facilitate land acquisition and, eventually, to accept private gifts" (p. 3).

Large research universities developed in the United States of America between the late 1800s and 1920. These institutions of higher education could not have developed and thrived had not American society had the resources to support them. Further, it is clear that society (both government and private interests) wished to support higher education (Carrigan, 1988). For example, John D. Rockefeller gave $600,000 in 1889 to help establish the University of Chicago (Cutlip, 1965).

The decade of 1919 to 1929 was referred to by Davis (1985) as "the golden age of fund raising" (p. 16). Private industry gave lots of money to build colleges, libraries, churches, and other institutions for the public good (Cutlip, 1965). The stock market crash of 1929 which started the Great Depression brought this to a halt. Much of the private wealth of the United States was lost and this directly translated into less giving for philanthropy.

Changes in state and federal laws before, during, and after the Great Depression ultimately helped to reignite the philanthropic drive in the United States. In 1917, Texas became the first state to allow corporations to make charitable donations. By 1941, thirty states had had changed their statutes to allow for corporate philanthropy (Davis, 1985). In 1935, the Internal Revenue Service changed the Revenue Code to allow a five percent deduction for corporate philanthropy (Cutlip, 1965). The overturning of the common-law rule in the 1950s eliminated all legal barriers to corporate philanthropy (Davis, 1985).

World War Two saw the United States shift into a war economy. The focus of fund raising was to find ways to pay for the war effort. During this time period, the power of the mass media was harnessed to drive much of the fund raising by the government with radio being used extensively (Cutlip, 1965). After the war, the 1950s and early 1960s saw a greater increase in philanthropic investments than in personal income or the gross national product of the United States (Cutlip, 1965). Higher education thrived as the GI Bill allowed soldiers to go to college and then it continued to grow as Baby Boomers came of age (Elliott, 2006).

In the last several decades, higher education has lost a lot of public funding as both state and federal governments have had to struggle with budget deficits. Legon (2005) wrote:

As elected leaders attempt to balance state budgets and come to grips with declining discretionary funds, the new financial realities facing higher education become clear. To address state trends, many institutions and systems are increasing tuition and cutting expenses. The cuts…are having significant effects on issues of access and global competition, making it more difficult for higher education to achieve its mandate. (p. 4).

Brinkman and Morgan (2001) wrote, “higher education has been drawing down on what was once a large reservoir of trust” (p. 428). In essence, buyers are starting to doubt that higher education is worth the cost. Those losing trust include different levels of government, parents, and students. Heywood (2006) reported that parents are more concerned with paying for college costs than they are with retirement. He noted that parents often say, “Too bad about retirement savings; my kids are going to college” (p. 10). Some students do not get into college though. Of 900,000 college-qualified high school graduates from low and moderate income families in 2002, over 500,000 were denied access to higher education by either being prevented from enrolling due to lack of proof of ability to pay or they simply did not attempt to enroll (Fitzgerald, 2004).

The funding crisis in higher education has demonstrated that philanthropy is still an important part of funding higher education in the United States. If public funding and tuition can not cover all operating expenses, then other means of revenue must be found and philanthropy remains a large part of this. Heyns (1994) wrote, "Publicly supported institutions are continuing to depend on private support to supplement traditional funding sources…Dependency on voluntary support such as gifts from alumni, friends, and corporations is growing" (p. 37, 38).


Alkin, M.C. (Ed.). (1992). Encyclopedia of educational research (sixth edition), v. 3. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.

Brinkman, P. T., & Morgan, A. W. (2001). Changing fiscal strategies for planning. In J. Yeager, G. M. Nelson, E. A. Potter, J. C. Weidman, & T. G. Zullo (Eds.), ASHE reader on finance in higher education (pp. 425-436). Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing.

Brittingham, B.E., & Pezzullo, T.R. (1990). The campus green: Fund raising in higher education. Washington, DC: School of Education and Human Development, The George Washington University.

Carrigan, D.P. (1988). The political economy of the academic library. College & Research Libraries, 49(4), 325-331.

Cutlip, S.M. (1965). Fund raising in the United States: Its role in America's philanthropy. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Davis, M. (1985). Corporate philanthropy and libraries: Will the private sector respond to federal cutbacks? Public Library Quarterly, 6(2), 15-26.

Dolibois, J.E. (1977). Alumni affairs. In A.S. Knowles (Ed.), International encyclopedia of higher education (v. 2), San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Fitzgerald, B.K. (2004). Missed opportunities: Has college opportunity fallen victim to policy drift? Change, 36(4), 10-19.

Gurin, M.G., & Til, J.V. (1990). Understanding philanthropy: Fund raising in perspective. In D.F. Burlingame (Ed.), Library development: A future imperative. New York: Haworth Press.

Heyns, E.P. (1994). Fund raising in publicly supported academic libraries of institutions belonging to the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges. (Doctoral dissertation, Indiana University, 1994).

Heywood, J.C. (2006). Parents worry more about paying for college than retirement, survey shows. Diverse Issues in Higher Education, 22(25), 10.

Legon, R.D. (2005). The new work of higher education foundations. In R.D. Legon (Ed.), Margin of excellence: The new work of higher education foundations. Washington, DC: Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Falklanders hail Brit liberators

It is hard to believe it has been 25 years since the Falkland Islands War ended. I remember watching this war on TV when I was a boy. CNN has an article titled Falklanders hail Brit liberators which looks at the British memorial service held on the Falkland Islands to remember the war.

In 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands claiming them as a part of Argentina. Despite the long standing pro-British population of the islands, and almost universal recognition of the Falklands as British territory by the international community, Argentina claimed the islands were illegally occupied by Britain. As such, they claimed to be coming as liberators. The locals in the Falklands were not overjoyed at their liberation.

The British fought back and retook the islands. About 650 Argentines and 255 British troops died in the war. The war also saw heavy naval causalities on both sides with some of the most extensive sinking of naval ships seen since World War Two. It showed old fashioned naval vessels were more highly vulenerable to missiles and air assaults than was already believed.

The article notes, "Hundreds of visitors, including Queen Elizabeth's youngest son, Prince Edward, British Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram, veterans and reporters, descended on Stanley, home to most of the Falkland archipelago's 3,000 citizens. On Wednesday, Prince Edward laid a wreath at a memorial to Britain's Sir Galahad landing craft, which was sunk by Argentina in the war. He spoke to relatives of those who died on the vessel. British officials and veterans will lay a wreath on Friday at a cemetery where Argentine soldiers are buried."

Argentine President Nestor Kirchner declined a British invitation to take part in a joint commemoration of the war. Argentina still claims the islands and is hoping to one day to get them. Unfortunately, that means there may be another Falkland Islands war sometime in the future. Let's hope not.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Harpoon may prove whale was at least 115 years old

Alaskans butchering a whale carcass recently found a surprise. An arrowhead was found in the blubber of a Long Bowhead whale caught by the Inuit hunters. It has also given researchers a greater understanding of the species. The weapon, found in the neck of a whale off the coast of Alaska, proves that Long Bowhead whales can live up to 100 years.

The arrowhead was of the type patented in 1879 and replaced in 1885, giving definitive evidence on the longevity of the species, previously a mystery to scientists. Long Bowhead whales can grow up to 27 metres in length and weigh more than 50 tonnes. They live around the Alaskan ice shelf and are protected from the cold by a layer of blubber almost a metre thick.

An article in the Boston Globe titled Harpoon may prove whale was at least 115 years old has some details. It was written by Felicia Mello.

Mello wrote, "A biologist in Alaska spotted the pieces of the projectile as they were being pulled from the whale's blubber by Eskimos who had killed the animal last month. He sent them to Bockstoce, who identified them as parts of an exploding lance made in New Bedford in the late 1800s, when the city was the world's whaling capital. Hunters would spear the animal with the weapon, which would detonate once inside."

Thankfully, only Alaska's indigenous tribes hunt bowheads today. The species is no longer in danger of extinction. I find it amazing that this whale had been around since the 19th century. I wonder how long they can live if old age finally catches up with this species of whale?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Three New Sites on Pyramids

While perusing the Yahoo Directory, I noted three new site additions to the Egyptian history category. All three of these sites are interesting and I thought I would note them here.

These include:

3D Unveils the Mystery of the Great Pyramid- Architect Jean-Pierre Houdin reveals his theory on the construction of the pyramid of Khufu in Egypt. Relive the Great Pyramid construction project in real-time 3D.

Engineering the Pyramids - Read how Professor Michel Barsoum and his colleagues found scientific evidence that parts of the Great Pyramids of Giza were built using an early form of concrete.

Sphinx and Pyramids - Collection of Dr. Zahi Hawass's articles about the Pyramids and their builders. Find updates on the Sphinx and Pyramid restoration projects as well.

Monday, June 11, 2007

History of Mali

History of Mali. This is a brief history of the African nation of Mali. Much of essay deals with more recent political activity.

The Encyclopædia Britannica notes, "Officially Republic of Mali, French République du Mali, landlocked state in central western Africa. It is bounded on the north by Algeria, on the east by Niger and Burkina Faso, on the south by Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea, and on the west by Senegal and Mauritania. Bamako is the national capital."

From the site:

Malians express great pride in their ancestry. Mali is the cultural heir to the succession of ancient African empires--Ghana, Malinké, and Songhai--that occupied the West African savannah. These empires controlled Saharan trade and were in touch with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern centers of civilization.

The Ghana Empire, dominated by the Soninke or Saracolé people and centered in the area along the Malian-Mauritanian frontier, was a powerful trading state from about A.D. 700 to 1075. The Malinke Kingdom of Mali had its origins on the upper Niger River in the 11th century. Expanding rapidly in the 13th century under the leadership of Soundiata Keita, it reached its height about 1325, when it conquered Timbuktu and Gao. Thereafter, the kingdom began to decline, and by the 15th century, it controlled only a small fraction of its former domain.

The Songhai Empire expanded its power from its center in Gao during the period 1465-1530. At its peak under Askia Mohammad I, it encompassed the Hausa states as far as Kano (in present-day Nigeria) and much of the territory that had belonged to the Mali Empire in the west. It was destroyed by a Moroccan invasion in 1591. Timbuktu was a center of commerce and of the Islamic faith throughout this period, and priceless manuscripts from this epoch are still preserved in Timbuktu. The United States and other donors are making efforts to help preserve these priceless manuscripts as part of Mali's cultural heritage.