Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Why Nobody Will Contribute to University Endowments in the Future

From our Recent Graduate Agent in the Field:

Dear Cappy,
I am a fan of your work and I wanted to share with you what knowledge you have shared with me through your work. I really think this is worth sharing with you.
After a long day at work (I write Performa Operation Plans for a telecommunications company) I get a phone call from a local number.  I picked up the phone, thinking it was somebody about a prescription, but instead, I get greeted with this quiet, 19-year-old female voice.
She wanted to know if I was willing to fork over money to donate to the Vampire University (I am using a fake and accurate name for the school) since I am an Alumni from there.  I majored in Bachelor's of Science in Management Information Systems.  The money would go to current students and scholarships for potential students. 
This is not the first year I get these calls, but this will be the last year. 

I told her no, I will not.  I told her to instead of calling the Allumni for money to donate to students, I told her to go the president of the school for those donations.  The student loans and grants go to fund the president's place of residence on school property, living expenses, and anything else the president wants.  I also informed her that the school's administrators have a huge budget (we are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars per year) to redecorate their offices.  At the expense of the students.

I told her that most of her money was not going towards her education.  I told her that amount of adjunct teachers were very high at that school.  They do not get paid as some of the administrators, who do not do real work in the first place.  The school keeps asking for more money, but the quality she is paying is not going to her as a student.**
I also informed her that her very expensive tuition is high because there is no cap for tuition as long as the government is willing to pay whatever they want for her piece of paper.  The school can keep asking for more.
I finally asked her if she was even getting paid for doing this cold calling (Vampire University is notorious for using student labor and not paying them).  She told me she was getting paid: at a call center.  I told her "Great, that is fantastic.  Do not ever work for free."
After that I told her to take me off the list and for her to think about the true cost of what she is getting out of what she is paying for. 

**When I was going to school there part time as a student and working full time as a warehouse manager at a stevedore company at a port, we stored brand new AC units for a building under construction at that university.  These AC units were as big as single wide trailers, costing somewhere in millions of dollar range in total(I do not remember the exact number, it's been 3 years or so since I have worked there).  The AC units ended up going on top of a 5 story building.  The building is for Interdisciplinary Science... which holds classes for majors like "Interdisciplinary Social Studies". AKA: Bachelor of Arts degrees in Gerontology, Humanities, Latino Studies, etc.  You know "non productive" courses the kiddies love.

Keep spreading the good word, sir.  I appreciate the work that you do. 
Thank you,

 Our Agent in the Field highlights something I've thought about and is going to be a HUGE problem in the future for universities and colleges that raped their students for their tuition money:

Who in their right mind is ever going to contribute to their alma mater?

You see, in the past maybe college was a fond memory, full of friends, socializing, and fun times.  But it was also likely more rigorous, challenging, and productive.  Professors were not washed up losers who could not hack it in life, but people with real world experience that decided to share their wisdom.  Also pricing was a "tad" cheaper back then, to the point a degree was a positive rate of return.  And finally, said degree ended up landing those people better jobs and careers, giving them said extra income to contribute to their fond alma mater.

But not today's kids and certainly not my generation.

I know personally I would NEVER give the U of MN a penny.  I don't know one person who actually enjoyed their college experience there.  And the lies and propaganda that was fed to me and my fellow 50,000 students during the 90's was unforgivable.  Like most other educational institutions, it was a place of evil.

So when it comes to donation drives and ginning up the ole graduates from Whatsomatta U to donate to their college, I see today, as well as into the future, students doing precise what our Agent in the Field did and telling them to pound sand.

This presents a huge financial risk to the futures of nearly every university.  Without endowments and donations, what precisely are they going to do to make up for the loss of funding.

Well lieutenants, economists, agents in the field, and others, you know precisely what they're going to do:

Demand a bail out and government money.

And when they do, it will at least be an admission as the evil they truly are.


Glen Filthie said...

Two words for ya, Aaron.

Research & Development.

Who else is going to do it? Even with the volunteer work of the profs and undergrads R&D is a huge who do you propose we hand that little chore off to?


I ain't saying you're wrong about the the breakdown of our education system...but there are isolated pockets where good work is still being done.

Anonymous said...

This is why I ensure my university has a fake phone number on file for me. There is nothing that is so urgent that they would ever need to call about. If they want to ask for a donation, they can do it in the form of an email that I can send right to the trash.

Keef said...

I really enjoyed the post. As a college grad in '09 I had received a call from a girl supposedly in the same position as was described in the post sometime in 2010 or 2011.

She was asking for donations from alumni and when I declined to give any she fed me some bs statistic that colleges that receive more in alumni donations are better recognized by employers as producing more attractive employees.

I was dumbfounded at the stupid of that statement and basically broke it down to her saying that I already paid my tuition for going there and now you are asking me to pay more so employers 'might' be more likely to hire me? Even that was a generous way to describe the situation because as I can tell there is no real connection between donations and employment advantages.

At the time I was working as a media buyer making $21k per year and living in my parents' basement. I laugh at all donation requests.

Anonymous said...

I have a confession to make that going to get a lot of disapproval. I'll stay anonymous rather than but the I'll guess the Captain can trace my IP if he wishes enough.

I currently do send donations to my school.

I have 3 reasons.

1.I enjoyed my school. While there was plenty of leftist leaning professors like most (or all?) universities. My major was CS and thus those professors didn't teach fluff. On the elective side, the school have two programs: one more typical and the other is a track reading great works and authors. Regardless of the typical modern "Liberal Arts" you rail, I don't think you can go wrong with reading starting from the Ancients like Plato, Aristotle, Confucius to the Renaissance like Dante, to semi-modern like Oscar Wilde. In short, I stuck to the areas of my school that was productive and rigorous. With fond memories of friend and socializing plus some making some decent income. I ensure my experience was more akin to the Captain's closing paragraph.

2. I can see where's the money is going. I still have enough contacts to find someone who can show me their budget. For example, if I donate to my old sport (but same applies to other places like my old club that engineers stuff), they see and can show me as a separate income that supplements their regular budget (which is not shrunken either). I do worry that despite what their say, that money I sent is only going to some flower pot. But since they do separate the money and I'm not seeing their regular budget being cut versus the alumni money. It seems good to me.

3. My school, while admittedly still full of the things you rail against, have kept a pattern to stay a step back from the most extremes of other schools. While it only means so much now. Even if I saw my school is 10-15 behind the extremes of other schools. Being Liberal for the year 2000 is not that much better. But I still recognize it.

As a tangent, there is also a irony in this. Part of the reason of my school has maintain so long in its pattern of being more conservative, is due to a long presidency of a man commonly view by students and faculty as an asshole. He got the job in the 70's after being called a communist (for apparently allowing blacks to attend) in Texas, but when he came. He was no ally to any faculty or students especially to the 70's protesters whom he immediately called them a bunch of hippies. While on paper he was a Democrat and thus a liberal and everything. He never acted like one in his writings or policies. My school actually really suffered in donations for that.

Swiss said...

It's not so much the bailout of the universities that worries me.

Rather, it's the possible bailout of the indebted students. If they bail out the 'students' (you know, the type who would sh!t on any normal masculine White man for voicing an opinion), then its truly all over. Those a**holes will then have the ability to run roughshod over everything else instead of being distracted by their debts.

Perhaps I should buy an over-priced McMansion for $500,000, then demand a bailout...

Take The Red Pill said...

I would confidently bet that the budget for practically any modern US company's R&D is ALWAYS subject to cuts, while the budget for marketing is seldom cut.

And the only way that "Swiss" could forseeably "buy an over-priced McMansion for $500,000, then demand a bailout" would be if he(?) was female or a member of a "minority group".

A.B. Prosper said...

To what the anon at 8:11 said in his second point.

We are quickly reaching the point where the need to have classes on the classics is no more.

Why sit in a room with hundreds of bored young people many of whom have zero affinity to the West are when you can hit You Tube or any the Khan Academy or use any of the new communication tech to talk about them. Heck use the Internet to recreate the discussion groups of the 19th century face to face (who wants a Meet Up to read Oscar Wilde say)

Its just as good and much cheaper.

As for Glen Filthie's point. True but a pure tech school with a minimum of the current nonsense doesn't really exist. Also the ROI on research is getting pretty poor anyway

Anonymous said...

I've gotten in the habit of sending my alumni association sections from the penny saver as well as other coupons. let them figure it out.

Peter Jones said...

This is where Mike Lazaridis, founder of Research In Motion (RIM), now Blackberry, did it right.

Found his own research institute from the ground up and do it right from the beginning. The focus is on the research, not the administration. The beginnings of an industry in quantum computing is growing up around the little Ontario city of Waterloo.

No guarantees but this is the way to do it.

Peter Jones said...

Ha. Speaking of the Swiss, here's a great Orson Welles quote:

“In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock.”

Knucklehead said...

The last time I spoke with a friend who was climbing the Wall Street ladder he mentioned that once you got into the fat bonus territory (a large territory on Wall Street) there were expectations like funding scholarships at your alma mater. Presumably once the bonus was big enough your were expected to fund a chair.

I doubt this is much different at the top of the NYSE type companies.

If your $1M annual bonus costs you $60K for funding a scholarship, oh well. If your $5M bonus costs you $300K to fund a chair, oh well.

Just sayin.

daniel_ream said...

With all due respect, Mr. Jones, U(W) is my alma mater and I know many people who work at U(W), RIMberry, and the Perimeter Institute. If PI ever produces anything of any commercial value, it will be decades, and IBM will get there first. PI is a vanity institute for Mike Lazaridis, and when the RIM money and the provincial grants run out, PI will shutter.

As a general rule, there's very little historical evidence for the thesis that "pure" R&D has to be publicly funded, or that pure R&D even necessarily produces much of any value, as opposed to iterative , goal-focused R&D.

Eric said...

You know "non productive" courses the kiddies love.

If by "love" you mean "are forced to take". I went to a big public college on the west coast, and when they couldn't get enough students to justify sinecures for the aging '60s radical faculty they instituted ethnic and gender studies requirements.

lelnet said...

Mine had the decency (or, more likely, lack of stones, since "decency" was not normally on their menu) to refrain from calling me up soliciting donations until about six months after I'd finally finished dealing with the dozens of collection agencies they sicced on me, to fraudulently steal most of my income for over a decade to repay "loans" which had originally been "grants" until they decided after the fact that they'd rather be repaid, and repaid multiple times over.

They called ONCE. I told them, in so many words, that if they or theirs ever wanted another damned CENT from me, they'd better come for it in person, and for their own sake they'd best show up armed, because I certainly would be.

The truth is, I _enjoyed_ college. Didn't learn anything very useful, but it is where my professional network got started, which of course is the only thing it's ever really good for nowadays. The problem wasn't what happened while I was there, it was how I was treated after I left.

dance...dancetotheradio said...

On our first day of college we were herded into the multi purpose room for orientation.
Halfway through they trotted out the alumni fund chick and she had her people hand out forms soliciting alumni fund donations.
'So, I haven't even taken my first class and you are asking me for money for the alumni fund?"
On the basis of that episode I will never give any money to that college.

Anonymous said...

I am not from the University. My two daughters were. They made my dream come true. As for donations as an alumnus, these 'tele-marketers' should target all those people who earn six figures in a month ..... Google to find them!