Soon after a Macalester College alumnus wrote about why he finds it hard to give to his alma mater, higher-education economist and Bloomberg columnist Richard Vedder writes in the Star Tribune why people shouldn’t donate to elite colleges:
Before endowments were large, professors sometimes had to earn their salaries by collecting tuition fees from students. When endowments provided professors a guaranteed salary, the incentive of offering high-quality instruction to paying students largely disappeared.
The negative consequences of endowments as well as other third-party subsidies (state appropriations, alumni donations, foundation grants) are huge. Faculty can neglect students to do obscure research that no one uses or reads. Endowments have also enabled university administrative bureaucracies to explode.