Phi Beta Cons

Universities Seek Profits? Never!

It’s always entertaining to hear the strained explanations of admissions policies from elite universities; such a noxious mixture of high-mindedness and stark business sense. Alumni preferences are justified on practical grounds, as a source of required revenue, as are sporting benefits. These, it is often suggested, are the means by which poor and minority students are admitted. We are left with Universities playing a strained balancing act between cold-hearted endowment-building (alumni preferences) combined with ill-thought out idealism (affirmative action). The giant’s share is invariably of the former tendency.Arguments that alumni preferment and sporting revenue are necessary are reasonably convincing when heard from lesser colleges; they seem to verge on the fabulous when heard from our wealthiest institutions, however. Look to Chronicle of Higher Education endowment figures (as of June 30, 2005):

    • Harvard: $25, 473, 421
    • Yale: $15, 224, 900
    • Stanford: $12, 205, 000
    • Princeton: $11, 206, 500

Look at that! Simply admitting the best-qualified students is clearly a direct path to penury and financial ruin!


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