Arnold Kling  

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Here is a list of universities with the highest endowments. Forty-seven have assets of more than $1 billion. The total assets of these top forty-seven is over $150 billion.

It appears that California and Texas have their entire state university systems aggregated. My guess is that the ratio of endowment to employees is actually rather low there.

Some interesting rankings and endowments (in billions):

1. Harvard $22.1
2. Yale 12.7
4. Princeton 9.9
5. Stanford 9.9
6. MIT 5.9
10. Texas A&M 4.4
21. Dartmouth 2.5
25. Brown 1.6
28. NYU 1.4
34. Grinnell 1.3
43. Swarthmore 1.1
64. Berea College 0.8
67. Tufts 0.8
92. University of Maryland 0.5
345. Muhlenberg College 0.088

My guess is that the highest endowment per employee will turn out to be at Harvard, Dartmouth, Grinnell, or Berea College. Berea is in Kentucky. It has 1500 students enrolled (total). I have one daughter each at Maryland (actually, she just graduated) and at Muhlenberg, which is why I included those institutions here.

Places like Grinnell and Berea have a hard time competing for students who want to live in sophisticated, urban settings. For a billion dollars, though, maybe you could just put up buildings that create the illusion of a city, sort of like a Las Vegas hotel.


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The author at Different River in a related article titled Why does Harvard charge tuition? writes:
    Arnold Kling points to a recent list of university endowments, in order of size. As usual, Harvard University has the largest endowment, at $22.1 billion -- almost twice as large as the second-largest (Yale, $12.7 billion). What's interesting abo... [Tracked on June 2, 2005 11:55 AM]
COMMENTS (12 to date)
spencer writes:

I do not think Berea is competing for students that want to live in sophisticated, urban settings.

Don't you know about Berea.

It is a fanasting small school in Eastern Kentucky.

If you can afford to go to school anyplace else they will not take you. Every student has to work their way through. It is dedicated to giving poor people in southern Appalachia a chance to work their way out of poverty.

I understand it has the higest endowment per student of any college -- not university -- in
the country.

It turns out to be highly selective and just about every student there was the number one student in their high school.

Lancelot Finn writes:

It would be interesting to see how a form of conservative populism that targeted the academic elite would play out.

I think the attack would be well-justified. But you'd have to struggle with the (to appropriate a Marxist term) "false consciousness" of people who went tens of thousands of dollars into debt to attend good schools. It would also be vulnerable to charges of anti-intellectualism and know-nothingism. And a lot of very articulate people would have a vested interest in combating it.

During the French Revolution, people were exhilarated when a number of aristocrats voted to abolish the priveleges of the aristocracy, allowing conscience to triumph over self-interest. A conservative populist attack on the universities might need support from declasse professors to legitimize it.

Way to blaze the trail, Arnold!

Bernard Yomtov writes:

It would be interesting to see how a form of conservative populism that targeted the academic elite would play out.

What are you talking about? Why would such a thing be "well-justified"?

Are you suggesting that the prestige schools are overpriced? Well, don't go there. Don't send your kids. That seems to be what Arnold did.

It would also be vulnerable to charges of anti-intellectualism and know-nothingism.

Yes it would, and rightly so. Do we want the equivalent of the Kansas school board - conservative populists - running universities?

zidane writes:

Actually, it doesn't aggregate the entire Texas state university system. Texas A&M is a public institution as is, I think, the University of Houston, each of which are listed separately.

That said, it looks like there is some partial aggregation under certain umbrellas, as UT has several campuses throughout the state as does A&M.

Texas Brian writes:

The UT system includes fifteen campuses, only one of which is thought of as UT (Austin that is). Similarly, the TAMU system has ten universities. There's also the nine-campus Texas State system, which isn't aggregated in the list. This also overlooks the Texas Tech and North Texas systems, which weren't aggregated.

john writes:

Caltech has no more than 1800 students (grads plus undergrads) total and an endowment of $1.2 bil. This also leaves out the fact that it owns, operates, and gets dough from the Jet Propulsion Lab which effectively serves to fatten their purse. And of course, judging by test scores, Caltech is far and away the most selective university in the country and has been for many decades.

Perhaps your Eastern biases are creeping in.

Lancelot Finn writes:
Are you suggesting that the prestige schools are overpriced? Well, don't go there. Don't send your kids. That seems to be what Arnold did.

It's not that simple. The university system is heavily subsidized by the public. The public should have a say in what kind of ideas its funds are subsidizing. The difference between freedom of speech and academic freedom is that the former is at the speaker's expense, the latter at the public expense. It goes without saying that any university willing to go without public funds could teach whatever it wants, regardless of what any conservative populist says or does.

Yes it would, and rightly so. Do we want the equivalent of the Kansas school board - conservative populists - running universities?

Sure. Better the Kansas school board than the cabals of Marxists and leftie wingnuts that tend to end up in charge under the status quo. I think your average conservative populist is a better judge of which lines of thought are worth pursuing than your average professor. That I wouldn't put much stock in the judgment of either is beside the point, because someone has to decide, after all.

Bernard Yomtov writes:

The university system is heavily subsidized by the public. The public should have a say in what kind of ideas its funds are subsidizing.

No, actually it shouldn't. Not even close. Government should not be in the business of subsidizing political viewpoints, not even - I should say especially not even - viewpoints held by the majority.

Better the Kansas school board than the cabals of Marxists and leftie wingnuts that tend to end up in charge under the status quo. I think your average conservative populist is a better judge of which lines of thought are worth pursuing than your average professor.

"Cabals of Marxists?" This is psychotic.

In fact the whole paragraph is insane. It sounds exactly like one of the premises of Mao's Cultural Revolution translated to the US. We know how well that turned out. You can trust your kids' scientific education to nut case creationists if you want to, but don't try to sell the idea that they know more science than people who have spent their lives studying it.

And you really believe that some "conservative populist" has a clue as to what direction research in, say, electrical engineering or European history should take? Get over it.

Jim Glass writes:
The university system is heavily subsidized by the public. The public should have a say in what kind of ideas its funds are subsidizing.

No, actually it shouldn't. Not even close. Government should not be in the business of subsidizing political viewpoints, not even - I should say especially not even - viewpoints held by the majority.

Gee, then you must hate local public school boards and especially those schools of education that have such heavily politicized curriculums that all would-be public school teachers must work their way through to get certified, such as one example among countless...

Robert Schwartz writes:

The interesting question is why do Universities pile up cash well beyond their capital budgets/operating cycle requirements? Maybe we should repeal the tax exemptions? Why do universities like Harvard charge tuition?

Bernard Yomtov writes:

Jim,

You may rest assured I share your disapproval of the program cited in your link. As for public school boards, I don't like it when they mess around with course content. It's fine to have, say, an American History requirement in high school. It's not fine to declare that the teacher may not say anything critical of FDR, for example.

Of course judgment is required. It's hard to make black-and-white rules. I think the Kansa situation is one that illustrates the potential of extreme idiocy being introduced into the curriculum by political means.

I should also note that the previous discussion was abotu universiy level education, where I think government intervention in course content is an especially bad idea.

rmguesses writes:

The ranking for universities'endowments is wrong. Rice University is endowed with somewhere between 1.9 and 2.3 billion dollars. It should be up there.

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