Fact Checker here.
First, the Duke Endowment gift to match 30 donors who create new professorship dates from 2008, not January 9, 2010 as the article states.
The date is important because this is a good example of the kind of special gift from The Duke Endowment that Duke University has enjoyed, and come to rely on in fund-raising. The financial meltdown has eliminated these gifts, at least for the foreseeable future.
This is very significant because fully 17 percent of the Campaign for Duke and 25 percent of the Financial Aid Initiative came from The Duke Endowment. Any future fund-raising will start without these pads.
Fact Checker has previously made the case that our fund-raisers should not be including these great gifts from a captive source in their reports of success. These gifts derive from the original money that Mr. Duke set aside for the university in 1924 and 1925. When they are transferred to Duke University, as opposed to being held by the separate entity called The Duke Endowment, they do not represent any new strength at all.
✔Second point. And this in no means detracts from the Ichel gift, which is one of just 46 gifts the law school has received in its entire history of more than $1 million. The gift is also significant because it comes from a graduate of the Class of 1978; most of the largest gifts have come from graduates who were far older, and indeed, only one law school alum from a later class has contributed $1 million, which entitles one to membership in the Lanty Smith Society, named for the first donor of $1 million.
Getting back to the 2nd point. Duke is selling its professorships too cheap! By Duke standards, the $2.5 million for this chair is huge. In fact chairs have been established for far less, and in some cases have nothing backing them up at all. Duke University used to release this information, but now, it has clammed up.
To create a similar chair in the current Yale Tomorrow campaign requires $5 million. Harvard's campaign that ended in 2003 also required $5 million.
In the back of my mind, I think one reason we have the low threshold is so fund-raisers make themselves look good. I do know that it does not advance our cause if we fund professorships at far less than our competitors.
✔Final note: Got $5 million? The athletic department is currently selling the coach's positions for both football and men's basketball. I can see it now: Michael Krzyzewski, The Fact Checker Coach and Professor of Basketball.