- A legal challenge of Princeton University's use of property tax exemption status has resulted in a settlement which will yield local homeowners more than $10 million in property tax relief over the next 10 years, and several million dollars dedicated to aiding low-income families in the area.
- Residents challenged the elite university after an anti-cancer drug developed at the school reaped millions in royalties for faculty members, and on the grounds that several residential buildings in the area were used for commercial enterprise like alumni travel booking, events, and research.
- Princeton officials say that the settlement, which is in addition to an existing $24 million payment the school makes to the township in lieu of tax payments, shows a commitment to diversity and a wiser investment of funds than continued legal defense.
Princeton may have answered the question of how elite universities can solve the persistent questions about how endowment funds are spent, but the bigger question looms for smaller institutions: Why haven't mid-sized and small colleges sought to monetize campus and community space in the same ways?
As colleges of all sizes continue to worry about the overall privatization of higher education, and search for ways to develop revenue streams in the face of falling returns on endowment investments, the principle of mixed use on and around campus seems to be part of the answer. Many colleges already have a stake in land and space leasing agreements with independent operators; perhaps real estate development becomes a bigger part of the future of raising money, providing scholarships and keeping costs low for students into the future.