A $400 million gift is Harvard's largest to date and it has sparked a debate about the morality of giving to already-wealthy institutions.
A slew of commentators have criticized the mega-gift: Malcolm Gladwell tweeted mere hours after the news, "It came down to helping the poor or giving the world's richest university $400 million is doesn't need. Wise choice John!" Similarly, a Vox education writer and Harvard alumnus wrote, "Giving to Harvard is not an act of altruism. It's a gigantic, immoral waste of money."
But Harvard isn't the only institution receiving big gifts — it's just the one under fire.
- I have been a college president for over a decade now. During my career I’ve not shied away from using the bully pulpit to address a number of issues. This includes questioning obscene gifts wealthy individuals have given to obscenely wealthy universities that primarily serve an obscenely wealthy student body.
- The huge donation comes as the science school plans to expand into Allston where, Harvard said, “its scientists and engineers will occupy state-of-the-art research and teaching facilities.”
- If the wellspring of all college charity is alumni, no university has more elite or deeper pockets to tap. It didn’t have any trouble connecting with John Paulson, a Business School alum who literally makes billions of dollars in a good year. In remarks last week, Paulson said it was “an honor to be a long-term partner with Harvard.”