(from InsideHigherEd):

By Gordon G. Galllup Jr. and Bruce B. Svare

Universities used to compete for intellectual status and visibility. But because of a growing reliance on federal grants, awards from private foundations, alumni donations, tuition, student fees, tax revenues and proceeds from athletics, a focus on revenue generation has come to pervade the daily operations of higher education institutions.

A disturbing corollary to this trend is that, when it comes to program development and resource allocations, decisions that affect academic matters are increasingly being made on the basis of a parallel, trickle-down, “what’s the return on the investment?” mentality. And more and more frequently, those returns are being measured in dollars and cents rather than good teaching, scholarly achievements, national prominence and academic excellence.

Indeed, higher education institutions often compare themselves based on the aggregate value of their funded research projects and their endowments. A growing number of institutions have been able to amass so much money their externally funded research projects are measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and their endowments are measured in the billions. Rather than being a question of having enough funds to run the university and develop a monetary reserve as a cushion for a rainy day, it has almost become one of funding for the sake of funding. Witness all of the successful fund-raising campaigns undertaken to generate millions of dollars in donations, only to be followed a year or two later by new funding drives with even more ambitious goals. Many universities have large offices with professionals whose sole purpose is to raise funds, get grants and invest existing funds to generate more funds. CONTINUE READING HERE