How society coddles elite universities

Gregg Easterbrook:

One reason is the internal illness of academia, which is a topic for some other day. Another reason is that elite colleges and universities are extensively subsidized yet unaccountable — which is a formula for falling out of touch.

Let’s look first at how government bankrolls colleges and universities; then consider proposals for change, including ways to inspire the rich to give to community colleges, HBCUs and colleges for children of modest means, rather than channeling money to well-endowed institutions that mainly serve elites.

Structured as nonprofits, most colleges and universities pay no property taxes or business taxes, while lavishly rewarding their administrative rentier class. The University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League member, paid outgoing president Amy Gutmann about $2.5 million per year and is believed to be paying new president Elizabeth Magill about the same.

Penn won’t say for the record – colleges and universities can accumulate money tax-exempt, then spend without disclosure. Penn’s motto Leges sine moribus vanae – “laws without morals are worthless” – apparently does not apply to Penn.