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Hiring Americans to Head Universities in Other Countries

graduation250.jpgI recently read something surprising: In the past few years, many universities in other countries have hired Americans for top-level jobs. For example, in 2009, a provost (senior administrator) at one of the top universities in the U.S.–Yale–will become the head (director; person in charge) of Oxford University, one of the most prestigious universities in England. Another American academic (university teacher or scholar) at Harvard, perhaps the most well-known American university, will become the new head of the University of St. Andrews, the oldest university in Scotland.

What accounts for (explains) these high-level appointments? The answer is money.

Universities have become big businesses and one of the main duties of a senior university official is fundraising, getting donations and other forms of money for the institution. Apparently, Americans or people exposed to American ways of doing things have good fundraising skills. These skills are a product of (result of) experience and necessity (need).

U.S. universities rely heavily (very much) on philanthropy, which is when someone gives a generous donation of money to build or help an organization or a cause. For example, at Harvard last year, 40% of the total budget came from philanthropy. This is in contrast to (very different from) universities abroad (in other countries): At Cambridge University in England, only 10% came from philanthropy, and at the University of Melbourne in Australia, only 6% did.

In recent months, donations to universities have dropped significantly, making a fundraiser’s job even harder. However, in general, when it comes to separating wealthy (rich) people from their money, I guess an American is the one for the job!

~ Lucy

10 Responses to “Hiring Americans to Head Universities in Other Countries”

  1. rodrigo Says:

    This is very interesting, in Venezuela the universities (both public and private) have low budgets and they can not afford to pay good salaries for teachers and researchers, therefore its hard for them to have good teaching staff because everybody prefer to work at private sector where salaries are higher.
    Most of the professors and researchers in the universities are there because the prestigious and academic credentials of being a scholar. In fact we face the same situation and many teachers are moving abroad mainly to the States and Spain, as a consequence many of the books used in our universities come from abroad where researches get better payment.
    In Venezuela the government is the main financier of the public universities, and nowdays we are facing a struggle between them since this year the budget for the universities was cut drastically for both economic and political reason because universities are complaining government´s policies.

    regards

  2. Peter Says:

    Can’t be it Lucy . Nobody can rule out that Americans are the most suitable candidates for those high jobs. I mean ,it is a wrong assosiation .
    There must be some other reasons to it. I know you are talking statistical facts here , But ,With due sall respect ,It cannot be the underlying reason why they ,as you said, have hogged those high positions. Defenetly, People from other ethnicity are capable of pulling off these kind of jobs. Don’t you think publicity may have played a major role on affecting the universities view regarding the whole matter.
    no mean to be a douch bag, but Let’s aproach to the aforementioned statistical fact more objectivelly, shall we?
    How ever thanks for the posting, As usuall , very informative yet deploring.

  3. Peter Says:

    ethnicities , sorry for the typo . I guess I have the attention span of a child.

    I am such a goon ,aren’t I?

  4. Peter Says:

    all respect ,again it is a typo

  5. emiliano Says:

    This is my lack as I never have been in the universty, so I know very few things about what happens over there now and before.
    I would like always to go and study as an university boy when I was young, but at my time it was nearly impossible to do such a thing for lower middle class, so I have to go to other schools and studied just what I didn’t wanted.

    Later I have my reward as my three daughters have been at the university, but I don’t know clearly why for as not any of them are working in the matter they studied for. This happened for quite a lote of young people who studied same time as they did.

    I can’t say anything about our universities, I don’t know if they are good or not. Only that now there are some private very expensive but the mayority are supported by the State as the fees are not so expensive as yours in U.S.A., also good students have free fees if they ask for. In fact my daughters studied with grants always as they were very good students.

    The results here in Spain?….we have the handwork people more cultivated of all the world or at least with some career that means nothing so many times.
    I have been very dissappointed about this matter, first I can’t go….after the three daughter went but means nearly nothing to them in terms of looking for a good job.

    But what it seems so odd to me is the idea o people giving money to the universities, and I know is true in U.S.A. as a way of philantrophy, but here? I have not any notice of such a thing in my country, so is natural that you have experts in getting money that way and now that Europe is going through hard time we need
    your skills for university business.
    Really I can’t imagine British universities ruled by american’s…..that is very funny.

  6. elcomandant Says:

    Dear Lucy Tse, I’m wondering why you are surprised. The answer is at third paragraph you wrote “…These skills are a product of experience and necessity.”.

    I agree what you say. There is a saying here in Spain that say something like that: “necessity makes more acute ingenuity”, which means something like people say in English “necessity is the mother of invention”.

    Following the thread of this case, talking about the cinematographic industry in Spain it is happening the opposite. Why? Because the government subsidizes them. Thus, if there isn’t necessity (don’t mind if final product is good or not, because the government pays it with my money), there isn’t ingenuity. It is simple, I think.

    Yesterday, a very good writer who next Thursday will be award-winning with the “Cervantes” who is called Juan Marsé said in the presence of Culture Government Minister that “The big problem Spanish cinema has, it isn’t piracy, but the lack of talent”.

    In short, what can we hope of people like Pedro Almódovar who is one of the best spanish cinema directors?. This person said to thousand hundreds people using the international media in the presentation his new movie “La Mala Educación” that one of the two democratic political party majority was implicated in a coup d’etat. Just because he had read it in a spam-email. In addition he said it the day after the general elections and not many days after the mass-killing happened. There 191 people were assassinated and 1.858 were injured, and all of Spaniards were still crying. Five years later this person hasn’t apologized yet. If he is one of the better…

    Well, I don’t like neither him nor his movies, however he keep making movies with my money.

    Regards.

  7. pedro Says:

    Well,I agree with you Emiliano.Here in Spain,it doesn’t matter if you go to the university or don’t in order to find a good job.This is my personal experience:I didn’t go to the university and I haven’t regret it.I know some people who went to study at the university here and now have worse jobs than others who didn’t go.Why? I think one of the reasons is because when you are looking for a job , what you studied doesn’t matter that much, but your attitude and your energy,you have to know how to gain the confidence of your employer and you don’t learn that at the university,you learn that through experience and everyday life.

  8. Peter Says:

    In Hindsight,Maybe I shouldn’t Have made the harsh comments about the enligthening fact above

    Sorry Lucy For my stern comment,

    You know what, A critical thinker is the one who accept thier slip-ups and try to learn from them;the one who blames no one for their short commings. Of cours,I am more of a tinker than a thinker.

    The thing is , I am officially unemployed and there is no much to do around here, and Checking out the educational podcast of yours from time to time is the best thing going on in mylife. The canon of yours and also the blog are acting as a comforting mental food . Whenenver I am on the blog , I feel like I am with a bunch of binding friends who seem geniune.And ,IT feels right My dear mentor; It feels good.

    Thanks for alliveating the ordeal That is penetrating to my very core.

  9. inma Says:

    I can”t understand why this prestigious, expensive Universities need money. The students have to pay a lot of money to be there. Isn’t it enough?. I’m from Spain, I went a good public college that only cost me like 1000 euros the year. I heard that in USA an academic year in a normal University is like $ 20,000 the year. It is crazy!

  10. emiliano Says:

    Going on with the same matter, my elder daughter Eva studied computer science at the university, she is now working in a bank, nothing to do with computers. The second Fatima studied journalism and she is now working with computers designing web pages and other computers work. The younger Laura studied telecommunication engineer and she is now working in the TVE as tv film editor and producer.
    So I agree with Pedro that here doesn´t matter if you have an university degree or not, the most important thing is the attitude and your energy to look for a job.

    Yes, all what elcomandat said above is the truth, my wife and me after listening this film director talking the way he did, we decided no to see any more movies made by him.
    And I like some of his works made some years ago, in fact I have seen nearly all, but it is a shame for us to listen to some kind of things said aloud for him or people like him that are untrue or a calumny.

    In my opinion spanish movies are really very bad nowdays and I use to see none since many years ago because the majority of them are for me like rubish.
    Not all of course, but you have to choose carefully if you want to see something really good.

    But listen carefully Lucy to what I am going to say: Our new minister of culture is a script writter, a woman, and she is going to subsidize script writters…..
    She has been in charge of spanish cinema academy and they all mebers and artist supported Zapatero on the last
    elections, so now our president is very thankful to all these people (not all but the majority )and have rewarded them properly.
    Nearly all the spanish cinema are subsidize by him or his goverment so is quite difficult to made a good
    and indepedent film.
    What do you think Lucy about subsidizing script writters by our minister?…who would obtain that goverment money? what have they have to write about? …that is the question.
    Nothing to do with independence, criticism or freedom, I think, so meanwhile I never see a spanish film because a know quite
    well what I am going to see or which artress or actor is doing the work. Very few movies or directors are out of this line because
    is very difficult to be against the power or the subsidize.