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?"