Point/Counterpoint: Endowment

Today’s guest column comes from Evan Spiller, who joined our staff after completing a two year tour of Vassar.  While he’s still a little post-traumatic stressed out, he is capable of thinking and spelling.  And by Punch Bowl’s standards, that’s pretty damn good.

Point: Penn should double its endowment by 2013

By Amy Gutmann

Our endowment has increased by $1 billion. Impressive. I know. Am I good at my job? Let me put it this way. There are three people in the world who can coax money out of a Wharton grad and two had an affair with Donald Trump.

But we could do better. With a greater endowment, there’s no limit to what this school could accomplish. We could create new departments for groundbreaking research, hire professors radical enough to compete with Harvard, and attract students even more arrogant than we currently have.

With more money, we could buy Drexel and sell it for parts, build dormitories high enough to touch the face of God, and use elephants to ride to class. Penn would have no boundaries, nor would the size of my face on our school’s version of Mount Rushmore.

And if anyone told us that what we were doing was unethical, we could just expand our philosophy department. I’m talking seriously wasting money.

So get to it. Make Penn a shining example of what a university can and should be; a mecca for higher education and a city upon a hill for all to see as they bask in our warm, reflective glow. (I want to enclose our campus in a glass case and heat it during the winter months.)

Counterpoint: Hey, what’s this obsession with endowment?!?!?

By Mr. Gutmann

It seems like every day, I hear you talk about endowment size and, frankly, I think you’re fixation is shallow and unhealthy.

Last week, we were at dinner with the Cohens and, out of nowhere, you started talking about how it is so much more “pleasing” to a “student body” when their college is “well-endowed.” Then, you lowered your voice and whispered,  “That’s why students love to attend Morehouse, Howard, and Tuskegee.” We get it. You like well-endowed schools.

I mean what is so important about endowment? Don’t you think Penn should feel comfortable with the endowment it has? Shouldn’t the students accept Penn and love it for what it regardless of its endowment?

Besides, Penn’s endowment is normal for a school of its size. Above average even. Lots of student bodies would be regularly satisfied by it. I think there’s something wrong with the Penn student body.

Maybe the student body should have to lug its ass to a therapist and yap about its inability to perform. If the student body hadn’t spent its college years whoring around with every gentile it met…sorry. That’s none of my business.

All I’m saying is that it’s not fair to resent Penn for its small endowment.

It’s not even that small.

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