Date of this Version
Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Spring/Summer 2012, Volume 13, Number 1, special issue on The Economy of Honors
Richard Badenhausen has offered a generous range of ways to think about “the economy of honors” and has concluded with a call for honors leaders to be aggressive in seeking appropriate funding from the upper administration. He passes over, however, the need to be equally aggressive in raising money from private donations, seeming to worry that pursuing “endowment support” runs the “ancillary cost” of “framing the educational experience primarily in economic terms.” He also refers to some honors administrators as spending their time “watching endowment returns if [they] are lucky enough to benefit from such support.”
Indeed, endowment gifts sometimes arrive as a matter of luck. An affluent donor on rare occasions surprises us with a large donation, or the development office finds a lead and cultivates a relationship, bringing us in to clinch the deal for honors. But most endowment fundraising success results from hard work: developing a prospect list, working with development people who have different mindsets than ours, writing case statements, traveling to meet potential donors, and conversing with confidence, knowledge, respect, and discretion. This work is often fruitless and frustrating, but the reward is potentially so valuable—a degree of economic self-sufficiency for the program—that it justifies the time and effort. Of course, our institutions must allow us to pursue such activity on behalf of honors in the first place.