Harvard Drive Seeks $60 Million for Ed. School

By Joanna Richardson — June 01, 1994 3 min read

Harvard University has launched a massive fund-raising campaign that for the first time will focus on the needs of historically underfunded departments, including the school of education.

The university’s five-year, $2.1 billion effort--apparently the largest fund-raising drive ever in higher education--calls for raising about $60 million for the school of education.

In addition, Neil L. Rudenstine, the university’s president, is setting up a $235 million discretionary fund that could be used to assist cash-strapped programs and pay for graduate fellowships and cross-department initiatives, Jerome T. Murphy, the dean of the school of education, said.

The education school, like those at several other research universities, offers only graduate degrees, though it does open some classes to undergraduates.

Officials said the campaign is a departure from the university’s usual fund-raising style, which essentially left schools on their own to seek out new financial support.

Under that model, “the rich got richer, and the poor got poorer,’' Mr. Murphy said.

“The smaller schools, like the school of education, didn’t have access to people with large amounts of money,’' he said.

When he became president three years ago, however, Mr. Rudenstine pushed for increased cooperation among the schools and for centralized fund-raising, which is the method most often used by universities and colleges.

But he also emphasized bringing the deans together to set financial and academic goals, and stressed the need to bolster all programs, not just those that have enhanced the university’s reputation or attracted the most students.

And, while Derek Bok, the university’s former president, had planned for a $3.6 billion campaign, Mr. Rudenstine suggested that the goal be reduced and focus on only the most immediate needs.

Observers pointed out that education schools tend to be chronically underfunded at many universities because teacher training is often not viewed as a central mission.

Using Its ‘Leverage’

“There is considerable evidence that over the years schools of education ... have prepared many more students than the dollars they receive’’ would indicate, David Imig, the executive director of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, said.

In addition, education schools typically get less financial support from alumni, who tend to earn much less than the graduates of law, business, or medical schools, Mr. Murphy noted.

For those reasons, officials in higher education pointed out, Harvard’s campaign is unusual because it acknowledges the needs of a school that turns out relatively few teachers and does not generate much revenue for the university.

But, they added, because of the university’s considerable wealth and influence, other institutions will likely closely watch Harvard’s fund-raising drive--which is also expected to focus on soliciting more money for endowed faculty positions, financial aid, and new teaching and research programs.

With a $6 billion endowment, Harvard is the richest private university in the nation.

The education school’s endowment is now about $84 million. Of the $60 million goal set under the new campaign, about $40 million would be added to the endowment; the remainder would be used for operating expenses, Mr. Murphy said.

Because of its wealth, the university is in a perfect position to try new fund-raising methods, observers said.

“If you have some leverage, you can take some risks that other folks can’t take,’' said Maureen McNulty, the associate dean for external relations of Stanford University’s school of education.

“We’re watching this with some interest,’' she added.

A version of this article appeared in the June 01, 1994 edition of Education Week as Harvard Drive Seeks $60 Million for Ed. School