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ERIC Number: ED536487
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Apr
Pages: 16
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
University Endowment Reform: A Dialogue
Miller, Charles; Munson, Lynne
Center for College Affordability and Productivity (NJ1)
In late September 2007, the issue of wealthy university endowments became front page news. Members of the Senate Finance Committee, most notably Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), questioned why some endowments were amassing vast amounts of tax-subsidized wealth while simultaneously raising tuition on average families to greater and greater levels. The Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) was pleased to work with the American Enterprise Institute in January of 2008 to host a conference on this intriguing topic. The conference included both those who have called for endowment reform and others that oppose such action. This policy paper includes the remarks of two panelists from that conference, each of whom has very different views on the obligations of university endowments and the necessity for reform. Presenting the case against greater government intervention in endowments is Charles Miller, the chairman of the Spellings Commission on the Future of Higher Education. Miller claims that endowments are governed by their fiduciary duties to donors and the university and that the endowment reforms proposed, including a mandatory payout, would conflict with these tenets. He firmly believes that focusing so much attention on endowments is a distraction from broader higher education reform ideas that would more directly help students. Arguing in favor of endowment reform is Lynne Munson, executive director of Common Core, and an adjunct research fellow at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. Munson claims that far from the myth of higher education being cash-strapped, endowments have in fact hoarded tremendous wealth over the years. She cites statistical evidence that suggests using a small portion of this wealth could help alleviate the tuition burden felt by an increasing number of students. While not the foremost issue facing higher education today, the proper role of endowments remains a hotly contested debate, as the two panelists' remarks will show. CCAP will continue to follow this issue into the future as part of its larger goal of making the nation's system of higher education more accountable, efficient, productive, and less dependent on taxpayer support.
Center for College Affordability and Productivity. 1055 Thomas Jefferson Street NW Suite L 26, Washington, DC 20007. Tel: 202-621-0536; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP)