- Dozens of colleges and universities are reporting that alumni donations are down over the last year, nearly 30% in total funds, given the last year of national campus acrimony on subjects like racism and sexual assault.
- Administrators say growing cultural sensitivity is clashing with a perceived hyper-vigilance for political correctness, a battle that could impact future donations.
- Alumni are concerned that focus on student support harms academic rigor, and makes students more vulnerable to harsh realities once they leave campus.
There is an interesting juxtaposition between smaller, predominantly white institutions losing alumni support in the wake of America's growing racial divide, while historically black institutions are reporting record gains in alumni giving over the last year, particularly among young alumni. The immediate takeaway: People are supporting the schools which have supported them in the past, or which support their ideology years later as wealthy, active or retired professionals.
Ultimately, college leaders will have to embrace and teach their alumni to embrace the changing demographics of student enrollment, and to make enrollment management and faculty recruitment the central components of making students feel welcome in predominantly white spaces. Colleges which avoid the conversation, or look to maintain policies to appease older big donors, run the risk of students reacting to a real or perceived effort of making a campus "great again."