Thursday, January 17, 2008

More thoughts on giving to Grinnell

I want to start by saying I had a wonderful experience at Grinnell. I donate to the college about $100 a year along with my wife who is also an alumni. I will continue to contribute at least that much, but with a new job I have thought about increasing the contribution more.

As alumni, when I consider how much to give I do ask myself is the 1.6 billion dollar endowment too large? A few days ago I thought the answer is that it is large enough and has been since I first attended almost ten years ago to up the amount spent on financial aid.

However, after further research and thinking I'm not so sure. Grinnell's endowment is in part so large because of past decisions not to spend it. I think the decision on when to spend it is better made by the Grinnell College community than government policy as Senator Grassley is now proposing. After I took a closer look at Grinnell's
annual report I see that while the endowment has increased roughly 60%, adjusted for inflation using the consumer price index that increase is only 20% and even less when you make further adjustments for rising health care costs for faculty. Similarly tuition has increased, but I do not think it is all that out of line with inflation. Grinnell needs to work to communicate this to its alumni better, as it took me a while to figure this out.

I hope that Grinnell will follow the lead of Harvard and Yale and greatly increase financial aid particularly to those from low income families, I still think it has the resources to do that. If Grinnell does not I hope the alumni association will work to provide me and other interested alumni answers why it does not. Given my feelings instead of increasing my contribution to Grinnell this year my wife and I sent money to the Posse Program, which provides scholarships to students from urban public schools to go to Grinnell and similar schools.

I have decided to donate to four schools this year: Grinnell, Beloit, Ohio Wesleyan, and Towson. All school mean a lot to me, and I hope my own class can increase the number of people who give, but that we continue to ask questions about the future of the college.

My information on Grinnell's endowment and spending comes


Josh Hall said...

As a current Beloit faculty member and friend of a couple Ohio Wesleyan alums, thanks!

(Great blog, BTW).

Mayme Norman said...

Thank you for your plans to support Ohio Wesleyan, Grinnell, Beloit, and Towson. To answer your question, the benefit of $200 to OWU is an immediate impact on our students and faculty. Tuition covers only 57% of the cost of attending OWU and the balance is made up through gifts to the Annual Fund and our endowment. Our endowment is nearing $200 million and provides approximately $200,000 of income to our Annual fund, still leaving great need for contributions. The Ohio Wesleyan students and faculty are grateful to have your support.