By Richard Vedder
Great minds think alike, and both Bryan and I wanted to blog about the huge rise in private giving to universities (Bryan beat me to the punch, as I was on airplanes or driving a car most of the morning). Bryan's points are very well taken. I would add only that the loss of tax revenues associated with charitable giving to, say, Stanford, last year amounts to something like $300 million. If there are 10,000 students at Stanford, that is equal to something like $30,000 a student. By contrast, direct and indirect federal support to a typical community college probably rarely exceeds $1,000 a student. Wick Sloane's point is reinforced. By the way, USA Today had a nice story as well on this matter this morning, and no doubt other newspapers. Equality and fairness, concepts much stressed by most liberals and progressives, would call for a fair and less regressive federal policy of funding support. Should we phase out charitable contributions to rich schools?
The American Enterprise Institute, working with CCAP and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, is planning a great conference on Higher Education After the Spellings Commission. It will be held on the afternoon of March 13 in Washington, D.C. at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and shortly AEI will be putting up information on the event on its web site. Suffice it to say now that Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings is coming and participating, and that two quite different perspectives on higher education funding will be provided by Ron Ehrenberg, a distinguished labor economist at Cornell and myself (helped by whiz kid Jonathan Leirer and my colleague Tony Caporale.)Other sessions will deal with things the Spellings Commission omitted to look at (e.g., curricular content, university governance), and will assess the work of the Spellings Commission. It should be informative and fun. The tuition fee for the event is zero (and there is a "free" lunch!!) --not all learning is costly these days. Stay tuned. Contact Bryan at (202) 375-7831 if you are interested in attending, or call the American Enterprise Institute directly at (202)862-5800.