Friday, 27 July 2007


Where the money is

Next time some university-type starts inveighing against "the rich," remember this:

Colleges and universities are our nation’s richest — and possibly most miserly — “nonprofits.”

[They] are sitting on a fortune in tax-free funds, and sharing almost none of it. Higher education endowment assets alone total over $340 billion. Sixty-two institutions boast endowments over $1 billion. Harvard and Yale top the list with endowments so massive, $28 billion and $18 billion respectively, that they exceed the general operating funds for the states in which they reside. It’s not just elite private institutions that do this; four public universities have endowments that rank among the nation’s top 10...

These endowments tower over their peers throughout the nonprofit world. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is America’s wealthiest museum. But the Met’s $2 billion endowment is bested by no less than 26 academic institutions, including the University of Minnesota, Washington University in St. Louis, and Emory. Indeed, the total worth of the top 25 college and university endowments is $11 billion greater than the combined assets of their equivalently ranked private foundations — including Gates, Ford and Rockefeller...

A recent survey of 765 colleges and universities found they are spending 4.2 percent of their endowments’ value each year. Meanwhile, private foundations — which are legally required to spend at least 5 percent of their value annually — average 7 percent spending. -- Lynne Munson, Inside Higher Ed
Many educational institutions (and their endowments) pay no taxes whatever at the municipal level, creating a tremendous negative impact on their host communities.  This is compounded as endowments buy up campus-adjacent properties "for future expansion," then turn around and rent them out in competition with tax-paying landlords.

Perhaps it's time for some adjustments.
Article linked by Glenn

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