The proportion of Harvard College alumni who gave money to the university dropped again in the 2006 fiscal year, hitting a level not seen since 1989, The Harvard Crimson reported today. The university’s overall take rose to $595-million, but its participation rate among alumni of its undergraduate college fell to 39 percent. That’s pretty good in American higher education, but it’s fairly low by the standards of Harvard’s Ivy League peers.
The university chalked up the trend to competition from other charities for alumni dollars, the Crimson said.
Nothing at all to do with the firestorm of bad publicity that resulted from the resignation last winter of Lawrence H. Summers as Harvard’s president? Giving by alumni and others is a fairly good gauge of their views of the current administration, and over the summer Harvard learned that it had lost out on what would have been the biggest gift in its history—$115-million from Lawrence J. Ellison, founder of the Oracle Corporation.