Nearly 100 people from a range of relevant perspectivesuniversity
administrators, academics, developers, foundation executives and
professional analystsgathered at the Emory Conference Center
April 1516 for the first Philanthropy and the Research
University conference, which explored the historical and contemporary
links between two of Americas pillar institutions.
The aim of the two-day event was to define the relationship between
American higher education (specifically, graduate education and
academic research) and the private philanthropic foundations that
have provided integral financial support to universities since the
Industrial Revolution of the 19th century.
Philanthropy, specifically the emergence of the great trusts
and foundations, has been essential to what [University of Virginias]
Olivier Zunz calls the matrix of knowledge in the United
States for the last 100 years, said Gary Wihl, acting dean
of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the main organizer
of the conference. Foundation support, endowments and charitable
giving are among the driving forces that created the distinctly
American research university system.
Speakers included individuals from academia, from philanthropyand
from both at the same time. The conferences opening panel
discussion featured Zunz, Commonwealth Professor of History at UVA,
and Harold Shapiro, former president of Princeton University and
current chair of the board of trustees of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Shapiro maintained that both higher education and private philanthropy
are, in fact, institutions of public trust. Before the
Industrial Revolution that roughly coincided with the Civil War,
American colleges were peripheral institutions that
mattered little to issues of national import. However, once foundation
and government money entered the scene, colleges that previously
had concentrated on classical education began to shift their focus
to more practical matters, in realms such as science and politics,
and the modern research university was born.
Still, as important as professional philanthropydirected
grants from large foundationshas been to education, Shapiro
said the affective philanthropy (usually smaller donations
from individuals made partly for emotional reasons) was much more
important to Princeton during his tenure.
In his remarks, Zunz identified three 20th century periods in higher
education funding: the first, centered in the period between the
world wars, witnessed the emergence of the science of funding,
marked by a convergence of scientific and philosophical movements
and a national investment in research.
Following World War II, Zunz said, there developed a bureaucratization
of funding, in which funding institutions began to develop
criteria for measuring the efficacy of and return on large grants,
even those given for hard-to-quantify work in the humanities. The
peer-review system for academic publication also developed during
this time, he said.
Zunzs third and latest period, during which he said the foundations
have watched their influence diminish somewhat, has witnessed the
emergence of the professional fund raiser as a vocation.
This period, he said, was signalled by Harvard Universitys
unprecedented capital campaign of the mid-1950s.
Other speakers in the conference included leaders from the Carnegie
Corporation of New York and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship
Foundation, academics from New York University, Pennsylvania State
University and Georgia Tech, as well as professional analysts from
the national consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Each panel was moderated
by an Emory administrator or faculty member.
Coupled with the April 57 Sam Nunn Policy Forum, which examined
Commercialization of the Academy, the conference marked
a significant amount of intellectual thought and activity devoted
to the relationship between higher education and the Almighty Dollar.
I am delighted that, with these two events, Emory is being
identified as a center for provocative thinking and critical analysis
of strategic issues facing research universities, Wihl said.
I sincerely hope that the recognition we are getting from
other universities and educational institutions will give a boost
to our planning as a major university.