$40M gift earns donors the right to curriculum review
- Mike and Marian Ilitch gave $40 million to Wayne State University last fall to help fund a new business school and student scholarships, but the funding requires the school to consult the couple on potential hires for its business dean, and seek their input on course development.
- School officials say that while the Ilitches, who own the NHL Detroit Red Wings and MLB Detroit Tigers franchises, are welcome to offer feedback on potential leadership and curriculum development, the university will have the final say on both matters.
- The gift is the largest in the university's history and is a part of the Ilitches vision for redevelopment of Detroit's arena district.
It is not unusual for prominent donors to have the ear of a president or chancellor, but highly unusual for that attention to be spelled out in a philanthropic agreement. But this unorthodox arrangement is not out of the norm for donors who are taking greater precautions to make sure that gifts are managed and used with their specific intentions in mind.
Philanthropists like the Koch Brothers and other foundations with specific political or sociological leanings use education funding to help finance agendas on a regular basis, and colleges make few arguments against the demands because the money is sorely needed. To avoid these specific demands, leaders can position requests and relationships as elements in a great social engineering experiment, in which the wealthy can be the largest and most effective piece in ending socio-economic disparities in surrounding communities.
- Detroit Free Press Ilitches' Wayne State gift comes with strings