Malcolm Gladwell on Higher Education Philanthorpy

This past weekend I drove my daughter Morgan back to Minnesota from her summer job at a camp on Big Bear Mountain a couple of hours east of Los Angeles. She had a wonderful summer, made a lot of new friends, and between sun and spills and lack of sleep she wore herself out!  As we drove across country, Morgan slept and I had a lot of time to think about my work in higher education, the privileges young people like Morgan have, and the lack of opportunities so many other children and families face.

Have you listened to Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History?  Gladwell got some press in July for being critical of leaders in higher education and some of the most generous philanthropists who support them. You can read some of what was said here in the Huffington Post, Washington Post, and Forbes to point out just a few examples.

A total of 87 gifts of $100 million+ have been made to colleges and universities in the United States. The first was made by Hank Rowan who gave $100 million to what is now named Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey.  The story of this remarkable gift is posted here. Since Rowan’s gift to a relatively unknown university, nearly all of the subsequent $100 million+ gifts have been made to the wealthiest institutions in our country. In one of Gladwell’s podcasts he asks “what are they thinking?” The result of his inquiry is a fascinating argument that I hope you’ll enjoy listening to as much as I did.

My Little Hundred Million, Episode 6 of Revisionist History, a podcast by Malcolm Gladwell

Returning to the office today, I’m thinking about Hank Rowan and how we can build on his unprecedented investment in the promise of higher education.

July 1992 Announcement of Rowan Gift to University in New Jersey

Leave a Reply