Harvard and UPenn donor revolt raises concerns about big money on campuses

Big money donations are booming at America’s colleges, helping fund higher education for millions of students.

But big donations often come with strings attached. Major donors typically give to specific purposes at schools. The biggest donors often sit on universities’ board of trustees, which governs the university and selects university leadership, priorities and direction.

The donor backlash at the University of Pennsylvania and uproar at Harvard University over Israel and Palestine highlight how big donations often come with demands for changes to university policy and politics. The backlash has raised questions about the influence big donors wield and pressure donors may exert over leadership, hiring decisions and academic affairs.

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