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Higher Education Donors Plan Strategy

ACTA's Newsletter Inside Academe Reports Donors to Higher Education Have Banded Together to Support Educational Excellence
February 15, 1996

WASHINGTON, DC—In a historic first, donors to higher education have banded together to support educational excellence, according to the lead story in the winter edition of Inside Academe, the quarterly publication of the National Alumni Forum. The action comes in the wake of Yale’s return of $20 million to alumnus Lee Bass after failing to implement the Western Civilization program he had funded.

Twenty members of the Donors Working Group held a day-long meeting on December 1 in Washington, DC, to discuss strategies for how donors can have a greater beneficial effect on higher education. The meeting was convened by Lynne V. Cheney, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Richard D. Lamm, former Democratic Governor of Colorado, who serve as chairman and vice-chairman of the National Alumni Forum. Further meetings are planned.

“This represents the first time that donors have banded together to discuss and develop ways that can ensure that their funds will be used to support educational excellence, not mediocrity or political agendas,” said Mrs. Cheney.

Members of the group include former FMC chairman Robert H. Malott, Washingtonian publisher Philip Merrill, and former Mellon Bank chairman James Higgins. The full membership is listed in Inside Academe.

Also reported in Inside Academe:

Eminent scholar supports greater alumni involvement: Eminent sociologist David Riesman has agreed to serve as the honorary chairman of the National Alumni Forum. “I am deeply concerned about the climate of higher education,” Riesman says in Inside Academe. “The issue that most concerns me is the freedom of conversation in the residential colleges and university centers, and how inhibited that is, out of a fear of saying something sexist, racist, homophobic, or whatever. That, I think, has a profoundly chilling effect.” Riesman says he will work with the Forum to address issues vital to the future of quality higher education.

Science Under Siege: While media attention has focused on political correctness in the humanities, eminent scientists are bemoaning an attack on rational thought in the sciences and are gearing to fight back.

National Alumni Forum Releases Essays in Perspective: The National Alumni Forum has released the first two in a projected series of Essays in Perspective on issues affecting higher education. In “Should Alumni Remain Silent?”, Forum President Jerry L. Martin argues that alumni can no longer remain passive boosters of higher education in the face of significant challenges to academic freedom and openness on campus.

Dr. Charles Anderson, Hawkins Professor of Political Science and Integrated Liberal Studies at the University of Wisconsin, demands help from alumni in his essay entitled, “Taking Stock Before We Begin: Some Thoughts on the Agenda of the National Alumni Forum.” “I know it is not good form for a faculty member to invite ‘outsiders’ into deliberation of educational purpose. … But I do not think the faculty has either the perspective or the will to initiate change,” says Anderson. “Those of us who believe that the main business of the university should be to cultivate the powers of the mind are going to need all the help we can get.”

Inside Academe is published quarterly by the National Alumni Forum, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Washington, DC. Any materials or quotes in the publication should be attributed to Inside Academe.


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