The Chronicle’s View: Looking for Cash in All the Wrong Places

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It seems a bit peculiar that a university’s administration would hit up its employees and solicit them to donate to?themselves?

But that’s what’s going on right now at the University of Utah.

The practice, apparently, is not a new one. Every year, when the U becomes destined to exceed its budget (thanks in large part to a state legislature whose priorities lie anywhere other than adequately funding higher education), the campus administrators send out some glossy pamphlets to professors, faculty members and other assorted staffers asking them to act as de-facto benefactors toward the university.

Such a tactic is apparently quite a bragging point in seeking out bigger fish in this small pond of financial contributors; after all, when contacting potential big-money donors, it’s quite a selling point to tell them that if the employees of the U believe enough in their campus community to put in their own two cents (whether literal or figurative), it stands to reason that altruistic philanthropists with bigger wallets should want to invest in the cause as well.

It’s an intriguing idea, and one that is not without merit.

That being said, while anyone who has the means and the desire to open up his or her pocketbook and cut the U a check is obviously encouraged to do just that, no one should feel compelled to do so.

Administrators readily acknowledge that with an economic downturn looming, benefactors are not expected to be quite so forthcoming as in years past. Yet, they expect U staffers, who virtually across the board make significantly less than do their national colleagues and counterparts, to make up the difference?

For some, it will be worth it to know that any employee who chooses to contribute can choose their money’s destination; for others, the fact that it is all so generalized and non-specific may be a turn-off.

Either way, if the administration’s claims that the U’s financial situation is dire enough to warrant begging its everyday, hard-working employees to give some of the paycheck back to he who delivers it, those same administrators should put their money where their mouths are, and not hesitate to lead the philanthropic charge.