Trickle-down economics: Donation benefits entire College community
November 3, 2011
With the recent generous donation of $3 million from College of William and Mary alumnus Frank J. Wood ’74 to the Mason School of Business, the question of fairness of such a gift arises. Many people point out areas of the College that need financial assistance, including buildings like St. George Tucker Hall, which has been out of use since I’ve been at this school. However, I believe that when you consider the benefits the business school provides to the College as a whole, donations to it are completely reasonable.
Our business program is currently ranked eighth among public schools and 25 overall by Bloomberg Businessweek. It has been rising in the rankings the past few years, which is partially related to the new facility — Alan B. Miller Hall. With a highly ranked program and an attractive, highly sustainable building with so many uses, more and more potential students are being drawn to the College. In turn, this means a more competitive candidate pool and, consequently, a stronger student body. Any graduating student will benefit from the increased value of the William and Mary degree. Also, according to the College Board, 12 percent of students at the College are majoring in business, compared to a total of 23 percent majoring in the social sciences and eight percent or lower in each of the other majors. The business school is by no means a small component of the College.
Additionally, the Mason School of Business attracts some of the campus’s top recruiters for internships and jobs. While most of these companies are business-related, interviews are open to all students, and many of the firms actually want to include non-business students in the running. For example, many consulting firms are interested in non-business students because they bring a fresh perspective to the problem-solving nature of consulting. As the business program continues to rise in rankings, more employers are attracted to recruit from this school, which benefits all students.
Finally, when it comes down to it, the donation is a private gift from an individual. It is not the College’s right to decide arbitrarily how the money is used if the donor specifies how they would like it to be applied.
Although this may seem unfair, the fact is that the business school is lucky enough to have a lot of successful alumni that have generously given back to the area of the school that impacted them the most. I think departments that are struggling should be allocated more of the general donations to the College, but when it comes down to private gifts, you really can’t look the gift horse in the mouth. The College should be happy for any donation it’s getting, especially one that will attract more students to a growing department on campus.