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A Reason To Pay Your Class Dues

When the dreaded red envelope asking me to pay my class dues arrived at my house in January, I probably did what most members of the Class of 2005 did -- I threw it out. Fresh from East Hill and with debt to pay off, I had more important things to do with my discretionary income, like save for retirement or purchase a $6 pint of beer with my co-workers. Why should Cornell hit me so quickly after finishing college? Wasn't 60 grand (I was, after all, in a contract college) enough to tide them over at least until I had kids of my own to send off to college. Moreover, when I paid my class dues and pledged "my senior gift" at the end of April last year, I thought my Cornell Alumni magazine would at least come for a year. But apparently my subscription ran out at the end of December.

So apparently I am missing a fascinating interview that the Alumni Magazine has with David Skorton in its March/April interview. But never fear! The magazine has made the article available on its website. And David Skorton again comes out looking like a demigod, pulling absolutely no punches. And he is candid as well:

I also have to say this: In my thirteen years of being in the administration of a big university in a small town, I've found that the most dispiriting thing that happens is when people are given to believe that a decision will be based on consultation when there's no way that it will be. I come from an orientation where I believe that the vast majority of decisions should be consultative and people are not only heard but know that what they are saying will actually have an effect. But there are some decisions that are not going to be consultative in nature, and it's disingenuous to pretend they are.
I am increasingly gaining trust that good things will come to Cornell under Skorton's reign. Skorton has a certain amount of assertiveness that Lehman (for all of his strengths) lacked.

Of course, I hope that one of the first things Skorton will pay to attention to is Cornell's fledging office of alumni affairs. Sure, he will be a good fundraiser, and the office already is quite successful at developing relationships with the deep pockets, but I think it goes without saying that post-graduation, Cornell only really cares about the alumni with money to give, while annoying the rest of us.

So why doesn't Cornell provide free alumni magazine subscriptions to all of its alums? Besides from just being the right thing to do, it would probably also be a cost effective thing to do -- receiving more alumni gifts in the long run as a result. Moreover, the magazine is already being produced, so the only costs would be the relatively marginal costs of printing and shipping, in which there are economies of scale to be found, as well as increased advertising revenue due to the fact that the circulation figures would easily triple.

So why not? Every other Ivy League college does it, and in fact the school where I studied during my junior year will send me an alumni magazine for the rest of my life.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on April 07, 2006 (#)

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