Today, deep-pocketed donor barely gets name on a carrel

To the Editor:

Next to the outrageous sums that recent philanthropists have been paying to name common rooms and library carrels, Elihu Yale got the bargain of the millennium when in 1718 he walked away with the naming rights to this university for just £562. In today’s money, £562 works out to just under $160,000 — a sum which must have the sucker who paid $250,000 to name a portal at the Yale Bowl licking his wounds.

What is more, Elihu Yale was a real cheapskate in donating just £562 to the university that now bears his name. During his tenure from 1687 to 1692 as governor of the East India Company settlement at what is now the Indian city of Chennai, Yale amassed a fortune of some £175,000 — equivalent to some $50 million today. And to think that poor Meg Whitman paid $30 million to name one lousy college at Princeton.

Vivek Krishnamurthy

April 3

The writer is a third-year student at Yale Law School.

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