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Beef Tenderloin and More Loans For Poor Students

So the NYTimes just picked up from the wires an article that pumps Cornell's capital campaign and then some. It's so positive about the University, it's as if the guys at the Chronicle wrote it themselves.

The lede:

On Friday, 1,000 volunteers and wealthy alumni such as former Citigroup chairman Sanford ''Sandy'' Weill will be back on the main campus in Ithaca, N.Y., for an elaborate dinner. The menu: a salad that includes wild mushrooms and sweet vermouth cheesecake; marinated beef tenderloin; and, a hazelnut Godiva chocolate tart with minted raspberry sauce. Cornell should more than recoup the bill. The festivities are kicking off a campaign to raise $4 billion.

Further quotes that paint Cornell out to be visionary, bold, and confident:

''We have to have transformational gifts,'' says Charles Phlegar, who heads Cornell's fundraising. ''Fifty million, $100 million -- in that range -- and we will certainly have that.''

"'We have a lot of wonderful things to do with the money,'' Skorton said in a telephone interview this week. Of the $4 billion target, he said: ''I hope we're going to blow right by that.''

Further Skorton: ''Philanthropy should be spread around. But we should get our share because we're one of the places that's really turning the crank and changing the world.''

But then there is this rather odd quote by Skorton, saying that even with all of the dough the University will raise, the University "hopes the school will someday replace loans entirely with grants for low-income students, but can't promise that even with this $4 billion."

The University can't promise something that would only cost $17 million dollars a year? I find that hard to believe. They're raising $640 million for student scholarships... that's a functional revenue stream of $32 million a year, assuming a 5% endowment payout.

This might not affect the big-time donors, but if the University wants to receive smaller donations from the little guys (the type of donors that could turn into big donors a couple of decades later), they might want to consider promising grants to all low-income students.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on October 26, 2006 (#)

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