• September 2, 2015

Donor Pledges Dollars if Stephens College Workers Lose Pounds

A Stephens College alumna has promised to give her alma mater $1-million, with one weighty condition: Employees of the women's college in Columbia, Mo., must lose a total of 250 pounds by the stroke of midnight on January 1.

And if the college's president, Dianne M. Lynch, sheds at least 25 pounds, the donor will add $100,000 to her gift.

"This donation is unusual because it's not about a program or a scholarship or any other kind of naming opportunity," Ms. Lynch said on Friday. "It's about investing in the people who work at this college."

The unorthodox challenge grant comes from a health-conscious woman in Oregon who wishes to remain anonymous, Ms. Lynch said. Fit and fond of organic food, the wealthy benefactor believes that obesity is a serious problem in America and wants to give overweight people an incentive to lose pounds.

"The donor is an extraordinary example of a woman who's led a healthy lifestyle," Ms. Lynch said. "She's 87 years old and weighs exactly what she did when she married her husband—117 pounds. It's a point of pride for her that she has maintained her youthful physique."

When the alumna advised Ms. Lynch to lose weight, the college president proposed a bargain. She and her staff of about 200 employees would lose weight if the alumna would make a donation. The deal was set, Ms. Lynch said, and college employees planned to start their diets this past weekend.

Ms. Lynch said she was pleased she and her colleagues would have such an incentive to stay fit. Busy workers often forget to spend time exercising and preparing healthy meals, she said, and the donation will remind people that it is important.

"It's easy to talk about health and wellness, but it's another thing to live out our goals and best intentions," Ms. Lynch said. "Sometimes you just need that extra push, and a million dollars is one giant push."


1. jffoster - August 22, 2010 at 11:12 pm

And we can't have finishing schools with fat workers and presidents.

2. literateinit - August 23, 2010 at 06:46 am

This just seems so counterintuitive to the mission of a women's college!

3. lizgibbons - August 23, 2010 at 07:25 am


4. lotsoquestions - August 23, 2010 at 07:39 am

I believe the term we're looking for here is "trophy president." My concern is that the president will fail and the trustees will use this to oust her.

I'm more concerned about the fact that the donor views weighing the same as she did in college as apparently her life's achievement. People who believe that are usually also big on other practices like not looking pregnant when you are; looking like you never gave birth after having twins -- and so forth. If the donor gets to bully people into adopting her beliefs this could eventually get really ugly.

And what if I offered to donate a million dollars to my university provided the president adopted my religious beliefs? or my political beliefs? Or my favorite hobby? What if I suggested that I'd give a lot of money to my university provided the president agreed to take a couple of courses in scientology?

5. shultqui - August 23, 2010 at 07:40 am

jffoster & literateinit, Where have you been the last 40 years? Stephens College is NOT a finishing school. It may have been 100 years ago, but hasn't been for a very long time. How is being healthy counterintuitive to the mission of a women's college? Would it be counterintuitive if it were a co-ed college, a men's college. Healthy is healthy and if this wonderful donar wants to help Stephens College employees became fit and at the same time benefit the College---More power to her!

6. mbelvadi - August 23, 2010 at 08:03 am

It's too bad that "weight harassment" isn't a crime like sexual harassment. What business did the donor have making a personal comment to the president about the latter's weight in the first place? This strikes me as a classic abuse of wealth - the donor clearly knows that her money gives her extraordinary power over the president of the college, but it's abusive to use that power against the president's person rather than office. If the donor had been male and offered the $1 million if the female president would have sex with him, I think you'd all be responding very differently. The only mitigating factor is that the president apparently the one who converted the personal attack into a school challenge, for which I applaud her professionalism.

7. srgummere - August 23, 2010 at 08:28 am

America in general is overweight!! This is a major problem everywhere and kudos to this doner for puting an incentive on the table to better these folks health.

I can't understand for the life of me why anyone would have a problem with this.

Get real and get on track to being healthy!!

8. 22228715 - August 23, 2010 at 08:53 am

This seems creepy.

First, there seems to be a misunderstanding whereby weight loss or weight maintenance is equated to healthy eating. Not necessarily. Indeed, some of the most meticulous weight-losers or weight maintainers I've ever met have severe eating disorders or body image problems. For a leader to not know this, and to promote it as a theme for a women's college (where there's a pretty good chance they will be peddling weight loss to young women with existing eating disorders) is creepy.

Second, I agree with lotsoquestions. When wealthy people offer money for college employees to partake in personal behaviors of the payer's choice, that's odd. When a president agrees to it and uses her influence to lead a group of employees to do it (publicly) that's creepy.

If the donor's (and president's) motives are for healthier lifestyles (and personal integrity and dignity) for members of the college community, then surely they could come up with a more humane, graceful, fun, sustainable, educational way for under a million dollars. What at Stephens College makes it harder to choose healthier alternatives, and what change in the nature (structure, policies, campus architecture, food options, awareness, medical plans) of the place would make it easier? Go with the ideas that will last longer than midnight on Jan. 1.

9. trendisnotdestiny - August 23, 2010 at 09:10 am

Can we now ADMIT that our economy has taken over social life? If we can financialize weight loss as an incentive, what is next?

10. tappat - August 23, 2010 at 09:13 am

Most of the comments here are right on target. No college should have anything to do with such a hatemonger, even for money. I think Larry Flint would have offered similar bonuses or tips for accommodating similar bodily requests, and they would be rightly rejected as obscene and denigrating, for any college, but especially for a woman's college. I say the college should retract the degree it granted the alumna, rather than changing itself, body and soul, for the cruel person.

11. katz19 - August 23, 2010 at 09:33 am

Both sides make important points. A better compromise, that would satisfy healthy behavior without focusing on weight, would have been to tie the donation to activity - walking X miles, cycling, other healthy alternatives. Part of the donation could be tagged to a fitness center (or improvements in an existing one). Chances are many would lose weight, but the manner would be healthy. The existing approach could lead to poor eating, diet drugs and other unhealthy ways to lose weight. An added benefit - focusing on activity could be long-lasting.

12. mvclibrary - August 23, 2010 at 09:57 am

Stephens College is, and has been for several decades, in serious financial straits. A few weeks ago I was standing with students outside one of the 'newer' buildings when part of the building fell off. Pride goeth before the fall.

13. mmarion - August 23, 2010 at 10:32 am

This seems to be a not so unusual request by a donor and is in line with thousands of other such requests, such as, 'name a building after me and I'll give you 15 million dollarws.' We are all familiar with exchange theory. However, the exchange between the Stephens group and the wealthy and oh-so-slim benefactor seems to be over the top. It actually smacks of a reality show. I can just see the president stepping up to the scale on the night before the deadline and the nation focused on whether she met the goal. This seems so undignified to me and I am convinced that the president, a very smart person, could have come up with a good suggestion to the donor about a better 'challenge,' such as (and this is just my little brainstory) a campus wide or alumna wide contest of ideas. The best idea for raising healthy living consciousness on campus and among alumni would gain the winner the right to name the next new building (or some equally enticing prize).

14. mmarion - August 23, 2010 at 10:34 am

corrections, please...spelling errors...dollars/brainstorm.

15. jbarman - August 23, 2010 at 10:39 am

I have no problem with this whatsoever.

Obesity is a significant problem in this country, and it's getting worse. If you don't think so, go just anywhere overseas. You can spot an American a mile away. S/he's the one who is 50 pounds overweight.

If the donor wants to reward the IHE by promoting a healthier lifestyle, good for her. 250 pounds lost by 200 people is a very modest goal, but it's a start.

For those who feel offended, the answer is simple. Don't participate.

16. honore - August 23, 2010 at 11:05 am

Do they still offer a degree in "Tennesse Wallker Horse Mane Braiding and False Tail Extensions"?

17. jaysanderson - August 23, 2010 at 11:31 am

I'll kick in another $10 if an administrator can find one thing that DOESN'T have a dollar value attached to it.

18. stephens24college - August 23, 2010 at 12:24 pm

I work at Stephens and can tell you that faculty and staff are really excited about the challenge this fall - you can have a sense of humor about it even as you take it seriously! The article only scratches the surface: our president and this donor are well-liked and respected, there's no bullying or politics here (hard to believe, I know, but we're small, and it's true). The challenge is about eating healthy, incorporating more physical activity into our lives, and being mindful about our overall health NOT solely about losing weight (think about it: that's 50 people voluntarily losing 5 lbs. each). Yes, weight is the "easy" metric for this gift but we'll also be participating (again, voluntarily) in wellness programs, logging miles walked, etc. and we'll be doing it in fun ways as a community. If it makes me a healthier more mindful person (forget about the weight!), while bringing the college money and showing an alumna that she's actually making a difference in peoples' lives, then so be it! This is exactly what a women's college is all about.

19. lotsoquestions - August 23, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Those who seem to be on the side of thinking this is OK seem to be making the argument that what the donor is promoting is "health" -- which they regard as a universal virtue. Therefore, the donor is apparently not imposing anything on anyone, since what she wants is actually good for everybody and is also something that they should desire as well.

If that is the case, I wonder how they would feel about scenarios in which:
1. the president was required to learn a foreign language and be tested on it and receive a certain grade, since after all learning languages is universally a good idea and therefore it's not being imposed on anyone . .
2. the president was required to learn to play a musical instrument, enter a competition with other members and be judged to have achieved a certain score -- since we all know that learning a musical instrument is universally a good idea and develops those all-important synapses and so forth
3. the president was required to attend counseling sessions in order to improve her marriage, since we all know that having a healthy marriage is a universally desirable virtue that benefits a community
4. the president was required to adopt a child since that is something that we should all desire -- for children without homes to have them -- and something which would probably benefit her as well.
5. the president was required to spend a year living in New Zealand, since we all know that foreign travel is a broadening experience and her doing so would surely benefit her college community.
Perhaps all donations should be tied to whether or not she reads the newspaper, votes in local elections, recycles or shops at Whole Foods. Isn't that the same argument?

20. akprof - August 23, 2010 at 12:34 pm

I'm with srgummere (#7) and jbarman (#15) - obesity is a major problem - as long as they lose the weight in a healthy manner, what's wrong with the faculty and president role modeling a healthy weight? They'll feel better and be healthier!

21. goxewu - August 23, 2010 at 01:33 pm

I worked at a non-academic place once where one of the best longtime employees had a serious weight problem. His boss (and mine) remarked to me that if the fellow were suffering from an alcohol problem, she would be encouraged, even required, to talk to him about it and direct him toward one of the counseling services that our (large but quite progressive in terms of bennies) corporation could offer. But since his problem was with his weight, to even mention it was considered discriminatory, and prohibited. A few years later, the employee died of a weight-related heart attack.

22. biolavpfinance - August 23, 2010 at 01:59 pm

It is the donors money. If the college doesn't want to play her game, they don't have to take the money. Seems fair to me.

23. katisumas - August 23, 2010 at 02:00 pm

to 21 gowexu, how do you know the heart attack was weight related? How do you know what caused her weight (for instance having a disease such as Addison requiring the constant taking of cortisone medications, genetics, etc etc etc).
Alcoholics usually are not able to do their work properly. You're talking about "one of the best longtime employee" --you might want to rethink your comparison.

24. katisumas - August 23, 2010 at 02:17 pm

18 Stephen242,
It all sounds very good but: are there no disabled students at your college? No one in a wheel chair? No one needing a walker to get around and this very painfully? No one deaf or blind? No one disfigured?

If health becomes a moral imperative, where does it leave the rest of us? Where does it leave sick people?

Unfortunately, we now have a tendency in this country to blame the "overweight" (which by today's standards would include Marilyn Monroe!) for our health problems instead of blaming the lack of access to health care so many people suffer from --and their number is growing daily with the rise in unemployment or part time employment

As for the donor, slenderness or weightiness are ofen the result of genetics and wealth or poverty. Would she have been a lesser person if she had come down with Parkinsons? Or if she had died at age 80? Or if she had had to work three part time jobs to feed her family and catch bites of junk food in between? Would she have been a lesser person if she had gained weight but discovered the polio vaccine? etc etc etc

I understand the college is in dire financial straights and I can see the practicality of its president's decision. But I can't see why, if the donor truly cared for the college, she didn't make an outright donation with the proviso that some of it be used for nutritional education and physical activity during work hours....

25. goodeyes - August 23, 2010 at 03:42 pm

This is a great idea. I would like to see more donors put carrots onto their donations. A good one too would be to show what you are doing to improve teaching that you didn't do before.

26. alan_kors - August 23, 2010 at 03:43 pm

Good grief. Awful. Note that it was the college president who suggested such an outrageous and intrusive deal.

27. aaroncj - August 23, 2010 at 04:18 pm

Everyone, please, lighten up! :-)

28. hhillhouse - August 23, 2010 at 04:30 pm

I have to say as another Stephens faculty that I'm somewhat appalled at the negativity of the comments. We all recieved it in the light hearted fun it was intended. Since many people already have goals to "get healthier"... which for many of us includes loosing weight... its wonderful added motivation. If I can lose 10 lbs AND help raise money, who loses? Not me!

29. mbelvadi - August 23, 2010 at 05:29 pm

To all of the Stephens College folks who think this is such a great idea, I hope you're putting most of your internal social pressure on the obese men among your staff, rather than women. After all, it's well documented that men lose weight much more easily than women do and you have such a short time to reach a specific target. But having lived in Missouri (we're talking heart of the Bible Belt, in case some of you don't know, and socially very conservative), I strongly suspect that the overweight females are feeling the social pressure far more than the men.

30. goxewu - August 23, 2010 at 05:32 pm

Re #23:

First, I said "fellow," so it wasn't a matter of "her" weight.

Second, I know the heart attack was weight-related because that's what the widow told everybody that her late husband's doctor had told her. And no, he didn't have Addison's disease.

Third, his weight actually did affect his performance, his job requiring some translatlantic and cross-country travel that became increasingly difficult for him to do.

Fourth, he was definitely one of the best longtime employees, even with his travel debility. The company took a big hit, including morale in that department, with the man's death.

Fifth, no thanks, I don't want to rethink my comparison. A) It wasn't a comparison, just a factual description of a regulatory situation. B) Even if katisumas wants to try to squeeze a comparison (weight problem vs. alcohol problem), the comparison would stand.

31. honore - August 23, 2010 at 05:50 pm

Personally, I would welcome such a donor policy at my school.
I am very weary of being bumped and jostled by all the hairy, unwashed campus hefties at all of the mandatory "dish-to-pass" diversity love fests.

Getting curry and salsa stains out of 100% organic cotton khakis is SO troublesome and think of the HUGE savings in the toilet paper fiscal budget.

And it is so frustrating to hear "would you please go on ahead without me, I'll to catch up later" and that puts me always among the first to arrive at the particular function before anyone else and you guessed, I get to open all the folding chairs, turn on the lights, figure out the A/C system and connect the power point laptop. But funny, how they always catch up when the catering truck arrives.

32. hhillhouse - August 24, 2010 at 08:49 am

For the record, no pressure has been put on any Stephens employees about this. Its been anounced, and the general buzz is excitement.... not pressure.

33. trendisnotdestiny - August 24, 2010 at 08:57 am

You know, this thread is about as frustrating.... I really love the intrusion of "healthy" values narrative incentivized by an institution.... While I'll conceed that the professorate at times can be a more sedentary lot (reading, writing, life of the mind stuff) and consequently exercise and a conscious attitude towards habits is necessary, shouldn't we be doing more about the environmental & business factors that undergird this request?

Embedded is this idea that people are already trying to live healthier and subsequently bump up against the tensions of productivity, high fructose corn syrup, caffeine, emotionality of body image and you know one of the greatest economic depressions in 70 years...

Shouldn't we be the ones who are responsible for changing what we have control over: larger systems... instead of standardizing, normalizing body shapes and incentivizing one more thing in our social lives through money.... We cannot control what individual's do with their bodies, but we can control the structures they live with careful planning, research and education.....

Oh! I forgot, why would we want that if people are making a lot of money at it

34. washingtonwarrior - August 24, 2010 at 09:24 am

lotsoquestions is the smartest person on this message board.

35. lfblocker - August 24, 2010 at 10:11 am

Even if the lady still weighs the 117 pounds she weighed when she was younger, at 87 I rather doubt she's maintained a 'youthful physique.'

For all the people crowing about how it's lighthearted and fun and voluntary, and could, without much effort, drop a few pounds, there are almost certainly those in the group with eating disorders, for whom this 'challenge' won't be fun, and for whom it won't feel voluntary.

36. jffoster - August 24, 2010 at 10:23 am

37 I think the big problem at Stephens Finishing.., er "College" is not eating disorders but budgetary disorders.

37. navydad - August 24, 2010 at 11:30 am

It seems to me that some folks need to lighten up. An 87 year old person can say just about anything she wants, including commenting on the president's weight. If I make it to that age, I surely won't censor myself and all the young whippersnappers can just put up with me. Based on available information, staff at Stephens aren't offended by the challenge and are pleased that they can get a $1+ million infusion of money in a difficult financial period. Almost all gifts and grants have strings attached and these particular strings seem pretty harmless. Big pharma, anyone? As for all the comments about what constitutes health, or the effects of this challenge on people with eating disorders: get real. Obesity is a serious and growing problem in this country and this is a positive and lighthearted way to call attention to it. People with eating disorders have far more to worry about than this.

38. mathmaven - August 24, 2010 at 11:32 am

Here's the problem with this "challenge": Weight loss is not an appropriate metric for health. Here's why:

1. There are many ways to lose weight, and the majority of them are unhealthy in the short run, the long run, or both. The article specifically mentions that "college employees planned to start their diets this past weekend." Diets have been proven over and over again not to work, and the weight cycling that results from dieting over and over is actually worse for you in the long run than just remaining at a particular weight but making healthy lifestyle choices.

2. You cannot know just by observing someone's weight whether that person is healthy or not, part one: Not all thin people are healthy. Some people stay slim by smoking or abusing their bodies in some other way. Some suffer from anorexia or bulemia. Some people are just naturally thin and manage to stay that way despite horrid dietary choices and lack of exercise. We do our thin brothers and sisters a disservice when we allow them to think they are healthy just because they are thin.

3. You cannot know just by observing someone's weight whether that person is healthy or not, part two: You cannot tell that a perso is unhealthy and is CURRENTLY making unhealthy lifestyle choices just because that person is fat. Despite what the multi-billion-dollar weight loss industry tells you, it IS possible to be fat and in good health. Yes, there is a well-documented correllation between being overweight and being in poor health, but correllation does not prove causation. This is something all college-educated people should know. More likely, in many people, both things share a common root cause. That may be overeating (which itself often has an underlying cause), it may be a sedentary lifestyle (which, again, often has underlying socioeconomic contributors), it may be both, or it may be something like PCOS. In any case, when you look at a fat person, you MAY be seeing the result of current lifestyle choices, but just as likely you are seeing the result of PAST poor lifestyle choices which may or may not still be in play. It's a myth that the minute you start eating better and exercising a bit the weight just flies right off. There are plenty of people around who have totally overhauled their eating and exercise habits and maybe drop a bit of weight, but not a lot. As a result, they are much healthier, but their physical appearance does not reflect our western ideal of a "healthy appearance." Research shows that for people like that, focusing on good health rather than weight loss leads to better outcomes over time.

I have no doubt the donor's heart is in the right place, and so is the college's president's heart. I just wish they had chosen a more appropriate metric, like improvement in blood pressure, resting heartrate, or a measure of increased physical activity, such as exercise logs. But they didn't. They took the lazy way out and went for the thin=healthy and fat=unhealthy message, and a campus full of impressionable young women are watching.

39. duchess_of_malfi - August 24, 2010 at 12:01 pm

If the donor is truly motivated by making Americans healthier, this challenge is an ineffective way to do that. She could have established a nutrition program in Stephens College's biology or education majors.

The president is bringing publicity to her institution, but also scorn--and the president doesn't seem to realize that her proposal and words trivialize a significant and generous gift to women's education. It is a bit sad that at age 87, this alumna--who earned a college degree when it was not common for women--so values her lifetime of weight maintenance that it is the thing she will be known for.

40. profxfiles - August 24, 2010 at 12:01 pm

I'l pledge an additional $1,000,000 if everyone at the college will agree to vote for the candidate of my choosing in the next election. If this donor can ask for something as personal as weight loss, surely asking them to vote in a particular manner is not nearly as intrusive--nor will it take as long to succeed.

41. bmljenny - August 24, 2010 at 01:26 pm

Let me start by saying that I know nothing about the culture at this college. If they got enough staff to participate to meet the donation criteria through honest volunteering and no pressure, that's great. But I do think this is a really bad precedent and could definitely be coercive.

42. agailey - August 24, 2010 at 03:11 pm

profxfiles: exactly. It doesn't matter whether being obese is unhealthy. It doesn't matter is weight loss is an effective metric. What matters is that an employer has absolutely no business paternalistically involving itself in what an employee does with her body unless it is directly relevant to job performance. What would we think if a wealthy donor, proud of her chaste lifestyle, dangled $1m in front of the college provided the unmarried women promised not to have premarital sex and the married ones vowed not to stray from the missionary position? Or what if she has a problem with formula feeding and will only donate money if all working mothers on campus pledge to breastfeed? Or maybe she should require that for one year no employees get abortions? Sure, she has the right to suggest it, but even entertaining it as a real possibility is demeaning, intrusive, and coercive to the staff.

43. fullprof99 - August 24, 2010 at 03:44 pm

Wow, the PC police are out in force today. How about if we play this right down the middle? Yes, being overweight is not the only measure of poor health, but it is a marker in many cases. On the other hand, asking an average woman like the president to lose 25 pounds on any short term diet is asking a lot and might not be sensible, though I'll bet she had something to do with setting that goal. (Diane Lynch's picture is on the college web site, and she doesn't look notably over weight.) For comparison, I'm a relatively active male who should weigh 175-180 and have lost about 20 lbs--over the last two years. At this rate, however, I am pretty much likely to keep it off and gradually to lose more weight.

The enthusiasm of the college's staff speaks well for this effort. Of course everyone won't be able to lose weight for whatever reason, but if there's a program stressing good nutrition, sound eating habits, and reasonable exercise it should be a plus for everyone. I also took a look at the campus directory, and there are over 250 names listed, so the 250 pound weight loss goal over all should be well within reach without ruining anyone's health.

44. thenomad - August 24, 2010 at 05:13 pm

I agree with those people who are looking more closely at what real health promotion and lifestyle are. I noticed that the article didn't say, for example, if this donor had children, which often changes a woman's weight, and whether or not she worked during her life and/or how much time she spend engaging in physical activity. The sad reality is that it costs time and money to use gyms and that the most nutritious foods, such as organic products and whole grain foods, are often the most expensive. If she has a spare $1M to donate, I'd like to think she probably didn't have to work two jobs just to make ends meet and still have enough time to spend with her kids and husband and hope that she had enough strength to go out for a walk and keep her youthful figure. Like other commenters here, I agree that her heart was in the right place because obesity is definitely a concerning problem, but there were probably more practical ways of promoting healthy living and active lifestyles.

45. jffoster - August 24, 2010 at 05:27 pm

Understandably, most of the focus in these discussions has been on health and whether (over)weight is a measure of it. No 34, Mathmaven, for instnce says this:

"I just wish they had chosen a more appropriate metric, like improvement in blood pressure, resting heartrate, or a measure of increased physical activity, such as exercise logs. But they didn't. They took the lazy way out and went for the thin=healthy and fat=unhealthy message, and a campus full of impressionable young women are watching."

So's everyone else serisously considering Stephens. You can't see low or high blood pressure. But you can see fat. And fat in this culture is NOT associated with upper and upper middle class, especially not with upper and upper middle class young ladies, especially in a college where the foca are drama, dress making (now called fashion), and dressage. I suggest this is primarily about outward and visible signs of social class.

46. roro1618 - August 25, 2010 at 07:38 pm

This is great. Americans are obese and causing themselves horrible preventable health problems. The Freshman 15 has expanded to Freshman 20-25. It's crazy that we are out to eat ourselves to death when so many countries wish they our food supplies. BTW, gyms cost money but putting the fork down does not and walking does not.

47. physicsprof - August 25, 2010 at 10:07 pm

I think it is funny. For those who rush to not miss the moralizing wagon -- get a life.

48. jkilgore0719 - August 26, 2010 at 12:00 pm

I think that many people are missing the point here. Frankly, I don't care what institution you are these days, you CANNOT get something for nothing. This donar has made a very larger sum of money available to a small institution for something this is actually fairly easily attainable. I think it is unfair to judge the institution, the donor, or the president of the school for that. First off, this donation, regardless of how it is attained, can do nothing but benefit the students and the over all Stephens community. There are few among us now who couldn't stand to lose five or ten or even more pounds. You have to stop and think about the amount of weight loss asked for could be as small as 2 pounds per faculty/staff member. There is also an assumption being made by many commenters that the only thing Stephens will be looking at is the number of pounds lost, not looking at longterm lifestyle changes that can only benefit the people involved. Also, as a faculty member, involvement is this is purely voluntary. No one is forcing any member of the faculty or staff to participate if they don't want to. The joy of this particular gift is that the money is NOT tied to a specific purpose so it could be used to upgrade technology, fund a new fitness center, create healthier options in the dining hall, or fund the foundation of new programing, perhaps even a nutrition program like one person suggested. Weight loss is an easily measureable goal, and regardless about what current opinions are about the number on the scale, it is something that has mattered and maybe even defined the donor in question. Utlimately, it is the donors money. At it's most basic, donors put stipulations and restrictions on thier donations all the time (name this buiding/scholarship/whatever) after me, why should this stipulation be any different. It has an opportunity (if you choose to not be a cynic and look at it positively) to allow faculy and staff to be good examples for thier students. Especially if the Stephens communtiy focuses on things that contribute to over all health and wellness, not just the number on the scale. I, personally, feel that it is an insult to our intelligence as an educated faculy and staff to assume that the only thing that matters here to us is just getting the money and doing whatever it takes to get there whether it is healthy or not. We are not that desperate. I have seen nothing but positive enthusiasm for this challenge, and a strong desire for us to "do it right" and focus on the positive outcomes this could have for our community.

49. lbcamp - August 28, 2010 at 12:44 pm

AMEN mathmaven (#38)

Perhaps that $1M would be better spent on spelling (donar?) and grammar (see below) workshops for the people responsible for educating students at this university?

Weight loss is an easily measureable goal, and regardless about what current opinions are about the number on the scale, it is something that has mattered and maybe even defined the donor in question. Utlimately, it is the donors money. At it's most basic, donors put stipulations and restrictions on thier donations all the time (name this buiding/scholarship/whatever) after me, why should this stipulation be any different.

50. womensglibeg - September 04, 2010 at 12:32 pm

I attended Stephens for a year and a half, then transferred to another college. I have so much to say about this recent decision, that I wrote a blog post about it.


I left Stephens before Dianne Lynch became president, and one thing that was very clear, is that Stephens was not in good financial straits, which is why Lynch decided to take up this donor's offer.

The thing that concerns me the most is that while I was at Stephens, a lot of students would try dangerous crash diets, because they had a very unhealthy obsession about losing weight. Before Stephens promotes this weight loss challenge, they need to do more to promote healthy body image among the student body.

And duchess_of_malfi (39), Stephens only became a 4-year institution in the Sixties. Before that, it was a two-year college, and had very much a "finishing school" atmosphere, where women of affluent families would be expected to get married upon, or shortly after graduation. It doesn't suprise me that this alumna would place such a high regard on staying slim, since there was that emphasis on being "attractive young ladies" at that time. (I spent a semester working in the school archives, reading back issues of the student newspaper and yearbook. It was very eye-opening).

51. caramma - September 11, 2010 at 04:04 am

My son has "weight harassment" too. though he 24 years old he has been trouble with overweight for 10 years. And it really effect his hunting job. Last month, I bought a set of P90x DVD (http://www.cheap-p90x-dvd.com/ ) for my son for weight loss and until to now the result is not so bad. I hope anyone who are facing the problem of overweight or obsecity can make some adjustment to their life too.

52. cageyc - September 15, 2010 at 01:08 am

I'm not sure this issue warrants much of the vitriol manifested in this thread. First of all, this donor is only asking the Stephens employees to take on and successfully complete her challenge in order to receive the money. Moreover, President Lynch is encouraging employees of the college to meet the challenge, not requiring them to do it--if they don't want to participate, they don't have to. My wife worked as a staff member at Stephens for a number of years, and it is a fine, progressive school populated with intelligent, caring people. However, it is also a school suffering from difficult financial circumstances, and if some of the faculty and staff at Stephens see this challenge as a way to benefit and possibly safeguard the college's current and future existence, I say more power to them. Aftr all, in an economy where some smaller private schools are cutting faculty positions and entire departments, Stephens could do worse than to secure a million bucks as a result of a few employees losing a few pounds each. Those of you who find this scenario objectionable might do well to remember that "unseemly" is sometimes just a matter of perspective--this challenge is a lot less offensive than the enormous federal and state budget cuts to higher ed that universities and colleges all over the country are suffering, and it's certainly less offensive than good faculty and staff losing jobs, or than a whole established institution going under.

53. cageyc - September 15, 2010 at 01:49 am

Additonally, I am compelled to point out that maybe "AMEN mathmaven" should conduct proofreading for spelling ("thier"), punctuation (the first "donors" in line three should have an apostrophe to indicate possession), and grammar (the last sentence "At it's most basic, donors put stipulations and restrictions on thier donations all the time (name this building/scholarship/whatever) after me, why should this donation be any different." is warped and convoluted enough to earn a failing grade in Freshman Comp) before taking Stephens employees to task for similar shortcomings. And yes, I realize I left the "e" out of "after" in my own initial post. Apologies!

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