Where Did the Money Go?
Princeton University saw its private donations plunge 44 percent from 2003 to 2004, from almost $226 million down to $125 million, according to a survey by the Council for Aid to Education. The university’s vice president for development told the Trenton Times, “This is not a sinking ship, we are sailing,” and he noted that in the previous year gifts “had spiked by about $40 million” and set a record. Other observers, who note that overall giving to U.S. colleges and universities rose by 3.4 percent last year, are less sanguine. They believe Princeton’s drop may be related to the school’s two-and-a-half-year battle with the Robertson family over the school’s use of a multimillion-dollar fund set up by the late Charles S. and Marie H. Robertson to support the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Family members claim the university has diverted the money from the donors’ intended purposes. The university both denies the claim and the idea that the controversy has hindered fundraising.
One volunteer’s effort to deliver a statue of the Virgin Mary to an invalid may end up paralyzing many volunteer activities. A jury has decided that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee should pay $17 million to an 82-year-old semi-retired barber who was paralyzed following an accident with the volunteer delivering the statute. The volunteer, according to the Wall Street Journal, was driving her own car, and her group, the Legion of Mary, did not have its activities directed by the archdiocese. But because the group met on church property, the jury found the archdiocese liable. “The chill on volunteer activities will be immediate,” says legal expert Philip K. Howard of Common Good. “Religious institutions are particularly vulnerable because they allow their premises to be used for a wide range of volunteer activities, including the Boy Scouts and Alcoholics Anonymous.” The threat, Howard fears, is not that these types of lawsuits will bankrupt the economy, but rather that they will harm “the fabric of society” when people “no longer feel comfortable doing what’s right and good.”
Changing Teachers’ Pay
The Broad Foundation, the Daniels Fund, and the Rose Community Foundation have announced a collaborative effort to help develop ProComp, a new teacher-compensation system based on pay-for-performance. ProComp was designed by the Denver Classroom Teachers Association and the Denver Public Schools; it links teacher pay to how well teachers meet the city’s instructional mission. One million dollars from the Rose Foundation will be used to fund the costs associated with transitioning from the current system to ProComp. The Broad Foundation is giving an additional $620,000 to help with the transition. It previously awarded $1.2 million to fund research and development. The Daniels Fund is chipping in $500,000 to develop the ProComp Assessment Profile, which includes the content-specific assessments by which teachers will be measured. The Daniels Fund also previously gave $500,000 to support research and development. The measure has already won the backing of the Colorado Education Association as well as other notable Colorado political actors, and could come before Colorado voters for approval as early as next November
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee awarded four prominent conservative leaders the Bradley Prize on February 16 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes both established and rising conservative stars and carries a $250,000 prize with no strings attached. The winners were Ward Connerly, Robert George, Heather Mac Donald, and George Will. Connerly, founder of the American Civil Rights Institute and “a leading architect of efforts to eliminate race-conscious selections by employers and schools,” gave a talk the Washington Post described as “impassioned.” Mac Donald—a Manhattan Institute fellow, legal scholar, and journalist—“went for the laughs—and full-bore criticism,” chastising the mainstream media. George, a Princeton University professor of jurisprudence, delivered a “moving” speech in which he recounted the “immigrant tale of his grandparents.” The favorite of the evening, however, was Will, a syndicated columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner. Asked afterwards by the Post how he’d spend the prize money, Will replied, “None of the Post’s business,” then followed up with a nugget from baseball lore. When New York Giants manager Tug McGraw won the World Series, he was asked how he’d spend his winnings, Will said. McGraw reportedly replied: “I’ll spend a lot of it on wine and women, and I’ll probably waste the rest.”