Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Rehnquist Professorship = $2.5 Million

Nate Edwards ('09) follows up on my last Chief Justice post via a comment that:

Although the college did pay 2.5 million to establish the Rehnquist Teaching Chair. Granted the chair was established through anonymous donors who gave 2.5 million, I think that the money would have been better spent in other ways...maybe 2.5 million to pay for carbon offsets on campus, set up another wind turbine, give students better facilities, give more aid to students who want to attend Midd. But we cant. There are a hundred other ways 2.5 million could be better spent than other teaching chair.
I agree, Nate. $2.5 Million (if that is what it really is...) is a lot of dough to drop on a teaching chair. What is the money for a professorship used for? Paying the professor? I hope not. James Ralph, the recipient, is already on the college payroll. Research? What kind of non-science research needs $2.5 million? Academic materials? Our library isn't the best but we need a couple million in new books on American culture and history? Granted, this sum of money is for the long-term and it will be used for several purposes, what is the deal with this anonymous grant?


Andrew said...

The endowment money given to J. Ralph allows for a larger operation budget for the college. Additionally, by funding research on American History (specifically the civil rights movement), it provides invaluable opportunity through possible student projects. Finally, the chair itself will be a huge attraction when hiring new history professors. While for some, the sight of someone signing over a $2.5 million check to end global warming might be more aesthetically pleasing than seeing John Roberts, the end result is the same.

And donors typically prefer anonymity to prevent future solicitation.

r.kellett said...

Ooh. Finally, a balanced debate! Keep the comments coming.

So the $2.5 million goes to the endowment with no-strings-attached? With strings attached for research specifically? Only for AmHis research? How do you give endowment money to a person or is it just ceremonial?

I agree that American History research would be fantastic for attracting students and teachers alike but the alternatives are not only the aesthetically pleasing ending-global-warming proposal (which, btw, the school approved a biomass plant a couple weeks ago). What about financial aid so students of all backgrounds can afford to go here so that they can take advantage of the fantastic AmHistory department.

I think what Andrew points out is that if this money is going toward the endowment, then fine. The money is going to one big pool which we skim the interest off of. But the end result is not the same. It all depends on what the admin decides to focus on (i.e. the strategic plan and an admin push toward the sciences).

on the books...