Harvard Donor Threatens to Stop Funding Due to Pro-Palestinian Lifestyle Speech – 2 hours ago

Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania are threatened with losing funding from their largest donors as a result of voicing their support for Palestine over Israel’s attacks.

Launching from CNN Internationalthe most influential donors at two top universities threatened to stop giving because of campus anti-Israel speech and antisemitism. Reportedly, several of these large donors are supporters of Israel.

Apart from Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania, they also threatened to cut ties with other universities in protest at the campus’s response to Israel’s attacks on Gaza.


One major donor who no longer supports Harvard is the nonprofit organization, the Wexner Foundation, founded by former Victoria’s Secret billionaire Leslie Wexner and his wife, Abigail.

“We are shocked and disgusted by the failure of Harvard leadership to take a clear and unambiguous stance against the barbaric murder of innocent Israeli civilians,” said Wexner Foundation leadersquoted Thursday (16/11/2023).

Meanwhile, Wall Street CEO Marc Rowan urged university leaders to resign and asked other donors to stop funding the University of Pennsylvania.

Then, the University of Pennsylvania’s main donor, Ronald Lauder, also threatened to cut donations if the campus did not do enough to fight antisemitism.

The Impact of Withdrawing Donors from Higher Education

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts/REUTERS/Jessica RinaldiPhoto: Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts/REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

Although the termination of funding from the largest donors did not result in significant direct financial losses, it could be detrimental to both universities in the long run.

“The likelihood of an immediate impact is very small. Perhaps an impact on donations or donations that will not occur in the next few years,” said author at the Chronicle of Higher Education, Lee Gardner.

However, the withdrawal of the largest donors also has the potential to influence small donors to no longer contribute to campus. As a result, alumni relations may be harmed, impacting new student enrollment, and putting pressure on the president or members of the college’s board of trustees.

“The impact will be felt in other aspects,” said Sara Harberson, founder of the private college counseling group Application Nation.

Not only that, smaller leading private and state schools are also considered to be more vulnerable to financial impacts if donor rejection spreads from Ivy League universities (a group of elite universities in the United States-US) to smaller schools.

The Role of Donors in Higher Education Finances

According to findings by researchers at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University in 2020, philanthropy has been the most important part of higher education funding in the US in recent years.

Researchers say that educational institutions are second only to religious institutions as recipients of the largest donations in the US.

According to researchers, universities received donations of US$1 million or around Rp. 15.54 billion (assuming an exchange rate of Rp. 15,548/US$) more than other donation purposes from 2000 to 2012.

Generally, donors provide large grants to colleges to support facilities, faculty research, on-campus technology, athletics, scholarships, and financial aid for low-income students.

“There are enormous benefits to developing and nurturing relationships with donors,” Gardner said.

“Relationships with donors are very, very important for all types of universities,” he continued.

Meanwhile, philanthropy is Harvard University’s largest source of income. In 2022, philanthropy contributed 45 percent of the total US$5.8 billion or around IDR 90.23 trillion in university income.

In detail, philanthropists contributed 9 percent of the university’s operational budget in 2022 and 36 percent of the endowment fund of US$51 billion or around Rp. 793.48 trillion collected over several decades.

Meanwhile, philanthropic donations accounted for 1.5 percent of the total US$14.4 billion or around IDR 224.12 trillion in income. University of Pennsylvania in 2022. Meanwhile, the majority of the University of Pennsylvania’s income comes from its hospital network.

Harvard University Students Condemn Israel

Last October, a coalition of Harvard University student groups issued an anti-Israel statement following the attack on October 7, 2023. In the letter, the students blamed Israel for the “deadly attack” carried out by Hamas.

The letter also invited various criticisms, slander, and even encouragement to withdraw their support for Palestine.

Former Harvard University President and US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said the students’ statements were “morally implausible”. However, he said that financial threats from donors were not the right solution to influence the university’s position on this issue.

“I believe the adjustments universities make should come from conscience and conversations within their communities, not as a response to financial pressures,” Summers said.

[Gambas:Video CNBC]

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