Guided by invisible hands

What does the increase in private funds mean at the U?

I have invisible hands. They’re not ineffective, though; for they carry money – lots of it – and I use it for your University. There are more people here with invisible hands lately. Currently, private donations make up 10 percent of the University’s budget. Over the next decade, however, your president, Bob Bruininks, said private donations will increase by 5 percent. Because of donors, alumni associations at the University are reporting record-breaking funds in 2007 and 2008.

All you have to do to see our money is take a stroll around campus. I have a friend named Coke, who is very noticeable. The Midwest Coca-Cola Bottling Company gave up to $50,000 to the University in April, according to the Board of Regent’s June report. The Coca-Cola Company also gave a generous gift to the Athletics Department, up to $25,000. I even have an invisible friend, named anonymous, who gave roughly $1 million to the University. In total, donors gave $68 million more to the University this April than the same month last year.

In June, the Board of Regents approved a $400,000 increase in the Driven to Discover Campaign, which recently won an advertising award, in part for recruiting more people with invisible hands. The U has given $4.4 million for the campaign, which aims at going statewide next year to promote itself as an important research institution. People with invisible hands tend to like promotional labels – you can see them on sidewalks across campus.

Still, some are critical of the influence of these invisible hands. Some say we aren’t looking out for the best interests of students. Indeed, our hands aren’t visible like those of state legislators. Their hands have to cast votes, sign bills and shake other people’s hands when they’re up for re-election. They typically have to ensure tuition is cut across the board. But they haven’t been too helpful lately, as tuition has swelled past inflation rates – 7.25 percent this year. That’s where we come in. Just give us some football tickets.