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Letters from alums about Annual Giving request

September 18, 2003

Sirs, A story was brought to mind again the other day that makes me happy that I'm not a Yalie. Having participated in many a Princeton Annual Giving telethon and as Class AG subagent for the West Coast, I'm glad I don't have to solicit Yalie Fred Smith for a contribution to Yale's AG.

If I were Fred, I think I would reply: "Why don't you ask the Yale professor who gave me a "C" on my senior thesis to give in my place?"

The subject of Fred's thesis was the delivery of packages overnight across country by air. As some of you already know, Fred Smith is the founder and CEO of FedEx!

Adrian Woodhouse '59
Reno, Nev.

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May 27, 2003

I was shocked and appalled at the letter by Chrisine Mann '80 in the May 14 issue of PAW regarding Annual Giving.

I was by no means an economics major, but it makes sense to me that the University cannot continue to provide such exemplary facilities, world-renowned professors, a top-notch education, and the most incredible financial aid to be found in any institution of higher learning without the continued support of its alums.

Princeton's endowment continues to grow as a direct result of wise investing and alumni funding. I sincerely hope that Ms. Mann '80 paid her own way during her tenure at Princeton, because like countless others, I had to rely upon that enormous endowment to permit me to attend. I can honestly say that without the financial aid I received, there is no way that I would be lucky enough to be writing this letter as a proud Princeton alum.

Likewise, I highly doubt I will ever be able to give back the amount that was given to me. Through our contributions, the University is able to help incoming Princetonians lessen the financial burden, and upon graduation, contribute to society and the world in so many different ways.

I feel my contributions have a greater effect than they otherwise would have had I simply given the money to some charity. I will gladly write a check to the University every year, expressing my utmost gratitude and helping future generations enjoy the Princeton I did, until someone has to pry the pen from my cold dead hand.

Daniel J. Sattizahn '99
Indianapolis, Ind.

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May 10, 2003

While I agree with Christine Mann ’80 that there are many worthy causes that deserve our philanthropic attention, there are reasons to contribute to Annual Giving that have nothing to do with the size of the Princeton endowment.

Back in the early 1970s, I received a large scholarship from Princeton that enabled me to attend the University. My Princeton education has provided personal and professional opportunities that might not have been otherwise available to me. I have felt a personal obligation to repay that scholarship many times over, both in nominal and inflation-adjusted terms. That is my way to thank Princeton for the difference that it has made in my life. I am sure that many Princetonians feel the same way.

Peter K. Seldin ‘76
New Canaan, Conn.

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April 19, 2003

Here are a few more questions about Annual Giving that President Tilghman needs to address:

— When an organization obtains contributions from people by telling them that the money will be used for Purpose X, but, without the consent of the contributors, the organization uses their money for Purpose Y instead, that is fraud. So, when Princeton, as it has since 1969, solicits contributions from alumni specifically for Class Memorials, but, without the consent of the contributors, uses 70 percent of those funds for Annual Giving (which does not create memorials), is Princeton not defrauding its own alumni?

— Isn't abusing the trust of alumni in this manner a strange way for Princeton to demonstrate that it values and appreciates what President Tilghman describes as the alumni body's "extraordinary demonstration of loyalty and confidence?"

— How does one reconcile this practice with the values of a university that places so much emphasis on an honor code?  What is honorable about defrauding alumni in order to artificially inflate Annual Giving's numbers?

— Princeton could correct these abuses at minimal out-of-pocket expense by granting the affected classes existing naming opportunities to use as Class Memorials.  Why does it not do so?

And here's one final question for alumni to ask themselves:

— In a world that is full of worthy causes that genuinely need and deserve people's support (most of which do not have an $8-billion endowment to fall back on), do I really want to give my charitable dollars to an organization that considers fraud to be an acceptable fundraising practice?

There is too much Annual Taking in Annual Giving.

John Stryker ’74
Kendall Park, N.J.

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April 9, 2003

My Annual Giving solicitation has just arrived in the mail, and I can't help but wonder if I am the only Princetonian that finds it appalling that a university with eight and a half BILLION dollars in its endowment still has the nerve to beg for yet more money. In a world where millions still lack food and clean water, thousands of refugees face uncertain futures, and the poor in our inner-cities struggle daily to provide housing and education for their children, certainly Princetonians can find a far more effective use of their funds than the bottomless pit of Princeton.

While food banks and community centers struggle to survive, Princeton continues its mindless expansion. (Has a single program or faculty position ever been cut? I sincerely doubt it.)

I am writing to encourage my fellow alumni to return their Annual Giving envelopes empty this year and on the outside, let the university know what other worthy cause you are giving to instead. Maybe if enough of us raise of voices, this university will finally get some perspective on its out-of-control finances.

Lisa Kennedy Heller '86
Oakton, Va.

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March 25, 2003

I just received a mailing urging me to donate money to Princeton's Annual Giving fund. I also receive frequent letters from my class and from various other university bodies, all asking me to give money to Princeton. I would like to know why, with an endowment of more than $8 billion, the largest endowment per student of any university in the country, Princeton needs to keep hitting its alumni up for more?

When there are so many people starving in the world, so many dying for lack of basic medical care, so many American children living in poverty, so many local schools closing arts and music programs for lack of funds, the university's boundless appetite for cash seems more than ever like naked greed.

Christine Mann ’80
Berkeley, Calif.


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