Top Ten Tips for Higher Education Funders

In early December, three of the country’s most elite higher education leaders faced questioning on Capitol Hill over incidents of antisemitism on campus. The leaders’ testimonies met stunning rebukes from across the political spectrum, and from many alumni and university donors.  
The presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology lacked moral clarity in their responses to questions about whether students’ calls for a genocide of Jews violates their school codes of conduct. Worse, it revealed their selective application of the ideals of free speech and academic freedom to faculty and students. Days later, following public outrage over her testimony, UPenn’s president, Liz Magill, resigned.  
This is just the latest example of why public confidence in higher education continues to decline – and it shows the public may see the sector’s problems more clearly than its leaders.  
For years, the climate on college campuses has been growing “more inhospitable to free speech,” according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The organization’s largest survey, released in September 2023, revealed a stunning culture of self-censorship on campuses amid threats to viewpoint diversity.  

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