State educational institutions typically under perform private institutions for attracting top students and gaining financial endowments for a number of reasons. For proof of this allegation, one only needs to look at the college and university rankings offered by some of the major news and business magazines. This division of performance, or stated differently, making a longer continuum ruler of differences, perpetuates the current society condition of the rich getting more and the have not categories of our society never catching up. Class warfare is a possibility some time in the future as we see an increase in the financial differences for the have and have not in our society. The middle class population is diminishing, melding toward the lower class, and resulting in the lower class gaining in size. Our institutions should work against promoting elitism based on wealth and some do just that with awarding good financial support packages for students coming from families that normally could not afford the expense to attend a prestigious institution. In any case, the private institutions out perform public institutions for attracting better students and endowments. One factor working to keep this division in place and widen this division is the subject of endowments and the process of gaining endowments. The point being made is that private institutions do draw endowments to a higher degree than public institutions, thereby perpetuating the rich getting richer. This is because the rich can better support a rich school. The poor or middle class can less easily support their alumni institution.
America is a tiered system of educational institutions. This is a good thing for a number of reasons. One good reason is because under performing students need an inlet to receiving a college education and lower quality institutions are most often a better match. Fewer students pick a lower level college so the competition is less to get in. This is a better match for the under performing student (but cruel for a high achieving student that can only afford a lower tier institution). The lack of endowments is bad when an institution is struggling to improve, move up to a higher level of ranking. For state educational institutions, the state funding is typically tied to a formula, a complicated formula that does not allow for expansion and special programs. For a campus to expand, outside money is needed. An under performing institution attracts under performing students who naturally will not excel to the extent of a student coming out of a highly ranked college or university. The key here is that a student coming out of a lower tier institution will, on average, not succeed as well as a student coming out of a high tiered institution. A more successful student getting a higher paid job or profession might give more back to an institution that provided the education for his or her success. It is obvious, from this, that the high tiered institution gets better amounts of endowments while the lower tier institution gets less from its own alumni.
Another factor might come into play for some struggling institutions. A faculty member friend of mine told me of this story. He volunteered to make phone calls to former students who had graduated from the department and had been out on their own for a few years. The phone calls were a personal plea to raise money for the department. His impression from talking to those former students was they had a general animosity toward the university, an anger for the education they received. This faculty member was utterly shocked that former student would think so poorly of the educational process they had received. This phone promotion took place at your typical state college campus. The point I am trying to make is this. The graduating students on every campus might not leave each campus with the same degree of satisfaction and thus the same willingness to give back to the institution. It is a lot easier for a rich prestigious institution to give a more valued education experience to the customer than a smaller struggling institution is capable of doing.
A lot of mother nature is in balance or goes into a new balance or a status that is stable. I just outlined an unbalanced situation where the rich get better places to learn while the poor get struggling institutions. Here is a logical proposal that should promote a better balance. I put forth that it makes little sense that an individual will give a huge endowment to a high tier institution where that gift is lost, becomes less significant, less significant when calculated against the total gifts received by the institution. Giving to a lower tier institution has the added benefits listed next:
The individual or individuals giving the gift will surely receive more appreciation as their gift is more significant just for the reason few gifts come to the institution.
Even smaller endowments are more appreciated on smaller campuses. The campus receiving the endowment would be more motivated to give the gift more press, more play and thus the person/persons giving the gift would receive more in return, ego stroking. Endowments are in great measure all about ego.
If the gift is very large then putting a family name to a lecture hall, wing of a building or even the building is more easily done with an institution that finds it hard to raise funding.
The individuals providing the endowment will help to make the political landscape more even between institutions and minimize in some small way the disparity of have and have not groups in our country and might help diminish the chances of a class warfare. This last reason, although real, would most assuredly receive blank stares from almost all, as it requires a current understanding of our country right now. Also, this reason would be far less important to most people in comparison to self ego satisfaction reasons listed above. Still, the reason is there and important.