Business School Professors Giving Millions To Their Schools

The University of Virginia's Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business

DARDEN: A POSTER CHILD FOR FACULTY GIVING

“We are having conversions with other faculty members who see the other two gifts as meaningful, and are thinking maybe they should so the same thing,” Maggitti said. “Who knows, maybe we can start a culture of giving amongst our faculty.”

The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business is a poster child for faculty giving at a business school. Last fiscal year, 87 percent of faculty gave gifts to the schools, said Carter Hoerr, Darden’s executive director for advancement. Most of the money goes into the school’s annual fund, but some faculty will specify that the money go towards a specific fund or program.

Darden has “more than a few” faculty members who have made significant gifts to the school in the six- or seven-figure range, though Hoerr said he could not share any further information on the donors or exact dollar amounts of the gifts.

LARGE GIFTS COULD CREATE SOME AWKWARD INTER-PERSONAL DYNAMICS

The school does not encourage or require faculty giving. However, Darden has a longstanding faculty giving committee that works with the school’s annual fund team to communicate with faculty members and solicit gifts, Hoerr said. “Our strategy is to demonstrate the positive impact of giving; that’s what our faculty expect in exchange for their support,” he said.

Despite a professor’s good intent, large public gifts from faculty have the potential to create some awkward inter-personal dynamics within their school, especially between work colleagues, said Inside Philanthropy’s Callahan.

“I do think it could be kind of odd if suddenly one our your colleagues steps forward and dumps a bunch of money into the school where you are working. That person suddenly goes from just being another of your colleagues to being a major donor, and there could be a power play that creates within the school,” he said. “But I don’t see it as a conflict of interest because you have donors who often are towing their weight around universities, so to have a professor doing that doesn’t seem much different.”

‘WHAT WAS REALLY UNEXPECTED WAS THE REACTION I GOT FROM STUDENTS’

Giving a public gift to a school while still serving as a member of the faculty comes with some unexpected consequences, namely that of becoming a minor celebrity on campus.
Villanova’s Nydick said he was “overwhelmed” by the e-mails, text messages and phone calls he got from faculty and staff this fall.

“What was really unexpected was the reaction I got from students I’m currently teaching this semester. I certainly never brought it up in class, but some students brought it up,” he said. “That was sort of a little awkward, but my message to them was simple. I told them I’m teaching you analytics and I believe in this subject so much that our family decided to make this donation so you will have opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have had as quickly.”

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