What does a $20 million donation mean to the University?

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What does a $20 million donation mean to the University?

 

Bob ’45 and Doris Malesardi sent shockwaves through the community this week with their $20 million pledge to the University, to be used solely for financial aid. The 2015-2016 comprehensive tuition fee is $62,368, making the University one of the most expensive in the country according to a 2014 USA Today article.

 

The University is known for its strong alumni connections, as evidenced by large donations like the Malesardis’, the externship program, and alumni participation in career panels, such as Feb. 1’s panel in physics and Jan. 29’s in literary publishing.

 

Students echoed the notion that upon first glance at the University’s email announcement about the donation, they assumed that the money would be used for a new campus building. With the additions of the South Campus Apartments, the current construction of the Graham Building, and the future construction of Academic East, the University’s landscape is constantly evolving, in part due to alumni pledges.

 

It is not surprising that Malesardi attributes his success in life almost entirely to the University, though it is interesting that this gift focuses on financial aid, which is is definitely a pressing issue on campus. With tuition rising every year, and becoming more of a limiting factor for many prospective students, this will likely have a sizable effect on the diversity of University students, as President John Bravman predicted in his announcement of the grant.

 

The grant has the potential to improve diversity at the University, an issue that Bravman and the administration have committed to addressing. In a 1973 essay, benefactor Malesardi wrote that giving back to the University gives the children of today the opportunity to receive higher education. With the ever-increasing prices of college tuition, it is becoming more difficult for students to seize a quality superior education; even as statistics continue to capitalize on both the increasing value of a University degree and increasing starting salaries. The Class of 2014, for example, had a mean starting salary of $52,068 according to the Career Development Center. The Malesardis’ generous donation to the University should allow for more students to attend the University, many who may not have had the opportunity to otherwise.

As stated in an article published by University Communications, the $20 million contribution inspires other alumni to donate this year and spark the cycle of giving. Even young alumni should be incentivized that small contributions make a difference.

However, $20 million worth of a single donation almost begs the question, “how much is too much?” The obsession last month over the Powerball Jackpot sparked countless dinner-table conversations, questioning “what would I do with that much?”  As generous as Malesardi’s donation is, the University must ask this same question when dealing with such a large sum of money.

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