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A letter from an alumnus about the President's Page April 9, 2003, issue: Annual Giving

May 7, 2003

Jay Lehr ’57 wrote an interesting letter in the April 9 issue of PAW. He lamented the assumption that the President’s Page attracts a very small readership. I read that page in every issue but often believe that Bud’s assumptions are correct.

If readership of that page is light I suspect one of the reasons is its tendency to generalize. For example President Tilghman stated in her page on Annual Giving that she would provide some "general facts" about the endowment. And that is just what they were, size and relative size to other universities. Then she went on to say what it does thanks to "excellent management."

Well, as giving alumni we have a right to know just what the management may have accomplished on a total return basis over the past one, two, three, five and 10 years. We also would like to know how that relative performance compares to our peers, including Yale and Stanford and an Ivy League average and to popular stock and bond averages. We would like to know what the venture capital segment is doing and how it is measured.

Articles from any source usually become more interesting when supporting numbers are included. The same could be said about the editor's comments and the comprehensive article on African-American studies. How large is the department relative to others? How many undergrads major or attend those courses, and what is the departmental budget per capita of students involved and on a comparative basis with other departments?

Perhaps my interest in supporting data is unique or limited to a small minority of alumni, but I doubt it. If articles such as those mentioned above consistently generalize, they offend no one but truly inform no one.

Thank you.

Herb Gernert ’48
Summit, N.J.

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