Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The $400-Million Question

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 8th, 2015

When John A. Paulson gave $400 million to Harvard University last week, many people complained that he hadn’t picked the neediest recipient for his largess. Though the gift is Harvard’s biggest ever, it amounts to only about 1 percent of the institution’s endowment. But that amount would be truly transformational in other areas of higher education.
Of course, for a donor as wealthy as Mr. Paulson, who is a Harvard alumnus and founder of a hedge fund that manages $19.5 billion, there are myriad options for bestowing a megagift. But the reasons big donors choose their targets is complicated, explains Noah D. Drezner, an associate professor of higher education at Columbia University's Teachers College who specializes in fund raising. "You have to think of the purpose behind the gift," Mr. Drezner says. "Based on what the donor wanted to do, was this the right place?"

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