Donations Up Despite Dismay

The Centre Daily Times notes that donations at Penn State are up 15% over the previous year, despite ” a year filled with turmoil and alumni angst.”

That’s the second-highest figure in that category in university history, Kirsch said. It is eclipsed only by $274.8 million in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, when alumnus Terry Pegula donated more than $100 million toward a hockey arena here and NCAA Division I hockey programs
.

Of the $237.8 million in cash for this past fiscal year, alumni contributed $87.6 million of the total, Kirsch said. That is up 19 percent from the previous year, when alumni gave $70.9 million.

While the alumni donations are up, the number of alumni who donated is down almost 5 percent. The fiscal year that just ended saw 72,111 alumni give money to the university, but the year before, 75,593 alumni gave.

This has prompted some on the message boards in Nittany Nation to question the sanity of those who still give money when the Board of Trustees continues to push a “move on” agenda without any regard to truth and members continue to shirk their own responsibility in the whole scandal.

Oooh Rodney, you almost had it!

One poster writes:

I am proud to skew the data. I was a contributor, so I am in the count. I taped
a penny to the annual fund card with a note that substantially more will follow
when there is real governance reform.

I loathe this BoT. How could anyone donate?

Unfortunately, as angry as we are about how the BOT handled this whole mess, withholding donations is simply not a practical method for effecting change.  Loyalty to Penn State transcends the mistakes that may have been made (I qualify this as the trials of Schultz, Curley, etc. are still pending) and the mistakes that were made (e.g. the way Joe Paterno was sacrificed to the media) and not all donating alumni give a hoot about the football program.  The situation is eerily analogous to Catholics who continue to donate to their church despite horrendous allegations of abuse by individual priests.  An effort like this would have as much chance of success as organizing everyone to withhold paying taxes in protest of the government until Congress agreed to stop wasting our money.  The theory is good, but the real-world application is impossible.  But I digress.

First of all, ask yourself this . . . who is hurt by decreased donations?  Students.  If you think for one minute that Rodney Erickson will have his salary cut because of diminished donations then you live in a dream world.  You need to look no further than financial institutions which gave lucrative bonuses to CEO’s as the government bailed those same institutions out of bankruptcy.

I will be the first to admit that my contribution to Penn State is almost purely based on the personal benefit of retaining and purchasing football tickets.  I have no shame in admitting that the amount of money I would donate if I were not a football fan would be significantly less.  I have plenty of other worthy charities, schools, and organizations to support thank you very much.  And when I sit in Beaver Stadium and look around me, I am not alone in this.

What gain would there be for an empty stadium, assuming it were possible to convince every ticket holder not to renew?  Again, who is hurt?  Penn State still has their TV contract and Big Ten money.  The student-athletes would suffer.  Recruiting would suffer.  The coaches would suffer–maybe even prompting O’Brien to leave over the lack of support.  Are you willing to risk that to make a statement about the Board of Trustees????  The fans would suffer, denying themselves the stadium experience and perhaps risking their seats for future years with no restrictions and a team perhaps competing for a national title.  And if you think for one second that Rodney Erickson, John Surma, Karen Peetz or Keith Masser will suffer, then you are truly delusional and perhaps dangerous.

So what say you?  If you have donated previously, did you continue to donate?  Did you stop because of the leadership vacuum at Penn State?  If you withheld money, do you feel your voice has been heard?

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