College alums donate large sums to SOM

The Yale School of Management, a relatively young business school which emphasizes not-for-profit work and social responsibility, has found an unprecedented outburst of support from Yale College alumni in the University’s most recent fundraising campaign.

The Management Tomorrow campaign — part of the Yale Tomorrow campaign, which recently entered its public phase — was launched in 2004 and aims to raise $300 million in five years, having already garnered $116,533,566 as of September 2006. According to a report released in September, just 14.7 percent of that amount has come from SOM alumni, compared to 53.3 percent from other alumni, a group that development officials said is composed almost entirely of Yale College graduates.

Contributions from foundations, corporations, other organizations and other non-Yale-affiliated individuals comprised the rest of the donations.

Nevertheless, business school administrators said alumni giving has never been higher than in the current development campaign.

Those involved with the campaign cited a number of different reasons why College alumni so often make gifts to SOM as opposed to the College.

Many said that in particular, Yale College alumni tend to have a strong sense of the interrelationship between Yale College and the graduate schools, as well as a desire to improve the broader University community.

“Many Yale College alumni believe that in order for Yale University to be truly great, it needs to have a management school that’s on par in terms of reputation and excellence with the other major schools of business,” said Nevin Kessler, the associate dean for development and alumni relations at SOM.

David Nierenberg ’75 LAW ’78, whose $10 million gift to SOM helped establish the Millstein Center for Corporate Governance, said his interest in corporate governance and SOM’s interdisciplinary approach to the field inspired his donation, though he is not an alumnus of the school.

Charley Ellis ’59, a donor and co-chair of the SOM capital campaign, said Yale College alumni feel a sense of University unity in giving to Yale in any form.

“I think Yale people are Yale people, if you look at where the feeling of the connectedness is,” he said.

There are also challenges to fundraising from SOM alumni alone. The relative youth of the school, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and the small population of about 5,100 graduates may hinder philanthropy to the school in the short-term, Kessler said.

“The Yale School of Management has historically been very undercapitalized, and as a very young school and a small number of alumni, it has not had the fundraising capacity of many of the top tier of business schools which we compete against,” he said.

The career paths of SOM alumni may have also influenced their ability to give back to the school. Yale Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach said in an e-mail that SOM alumni often enter public service and not-for-profit work, fields that do not have the earning potential of traditional MBA careers. In addition, Kessler said the theme of social responsibility reflected in the SOM curriculum has led many alumni to engage in other philanthropic endeavors that may supersede their commitment to SOM.

But SOM Dean Joel Podolny said he expects alumni giving to increase significantly in the next five to 10 years as the school’s oldest alumni reach seniority in their careers and accumulate wealth to devote to philanthropy.

Yale Tomorrow has raised $1.3 billion since its silent phase launched in 2004.

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