Get your music education on the cheap
November 7, 2005 2:44 PM   Subscribe

What would you do with $100 million? OK, scratch that. What would you do if you were the head of a top US university with an anonymous gift of $100 million? Well, if you're Richard C. Levin, you'd take a cue from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and decide to let music students in for free.
posted by emelenjr (31 comments total)
boola boola
posted by gurple at 2:48 PM on November 7, 2005

Hey, it was the least I could do.
posted by ColdChef at 2:51 PM on November 7, 2005

Boo! Already, we give them free places to sleep -- namely, couches -- and now they want free education as well?

It'll only encourage them.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:55 PM on November 7, 2005

Oh yeah, might have been wise to point out that the gift was to a school of music. I was wondering why musicians were singled out...
posted by Deathalicious at 2:56 PM on November 7, 2005

Well, of course, many of the large-endowment universities (those in the multi-billion dollar range) could probably stand to abolish tuition for all students, period, and funnel donations towards research grants rather than scholarships.

Harvard, at least, has done this for low-income (<$40,000) students.

All that said, I think this move by Yale (well, by the philanthropic donors) is a substantial step in the right direction.
posted by jedicus at 2:56 PM on November 7, 2005

I bet it was GW. He's got a great love of music you know. He owns an Ipod after all.
posted by panoptican at 2:56 PM on November 7, 2005

Dovetails nicely with Ben Steins column from the Sunday Business section of the NY Times over the past few weeks.

Column one

Column two
posted by Keith Talent at 3:06 PM on November 7, 2005

This is for the School of Music which is the graduate music program at Yale and considered one of the best in the country.
posted by Brockstar at 3:22 PM on November 7, 2005

Harvard, at least, has done this for low-income (< $40,000) students./em>

Huck Farvard!

posted by superfem at 3:24 PM on November 7, 2005

People tend to have less regard for free stuff.
posted by fire&wings at 3:24 PM on November 7, 2005

Ahem. See also the YDN article.
posted by superfem at 3:26 PM on November 7, 2005

fire&wings - Tell that to a student with a free ride scholarship. I dare you.
posted by mayfly wake at 3:27 PM on November 7, 2005

My university just got $100 million and we may just barely get onto that list that Jedicus posted. Free tuition is not in the cards for us, methinks.
posted by danb at 3:28 PM on November 7, 2005

So this is for an undergraduate degree? I know most PhD programs anywhere have tuition paid for + living stipend (though how you would consider $9,000/yr. a living stipend in New Haven, even back in 1997, is/was beyond me -- I'm still paying credit card debt for the overage).
posted by linux at 3:30 PM on November 7, 2005

True, when it's Yale.
posted by fire&wings at 3:31 PM on November 7, 2005

This is great.
posted by alms at 3:35 PM on November 7, 2005

The best thing about Ben Stein's two articles linked about is that in #1 he says "People like me, even with seven figures to invest, cannot come near these deals" and then in #2 starts a sentence "But the real point, again, was about why middle-class alumni like me"

I realize that a million dollars is the requisite for retirement funds of late but I am unsure I think Mr Stein can call himself middle-class without my raising an eyebrow.
posted by phearlez at 3:46 PM on November 7, 2005

In hindsight, I wish I'd linked to the YDN story instead of Google News, but I guess it's there as a good jumping-off point.

Berklee College of Music in Boston was the first school I visited when I started looking at colleges in 1991-92, and in hindsight I wish I hadn't chickened out of applying, because I think I'd be further along now had I pursued a degree in music rather than English. No doubt Yale's music program is more rigorous, but for a chance to study music and have Yale pick up most of the tab, I'd consider a move up north even now.

Like, right now.

Keith Talent further saved the thread from Newsfilterdom, too.
posted by emelenjr at 3:53 PM on November 7, 2005

Stein was just slumming.
posted by tzelig at 3:55 PM on November 7, 2005

Aw, man. If I were fifteen years younger and had a lot less responsibility, I could chuck everything and go to music school like I'd always wanted to, but couldn't afford until I had the kind of job that prevents me from having the time to go to music school.

Still want to go.

posted by davejay at 4:09 PM on November 7, 2005

Apparently, in the early 90s Simon Fraser University once received an anonymous $10 million, gave the top administration a raise, upped tuition, and renovated the alumni lounge.

I don't know how true this is...but it's what a couple university students told me at the time.
posted by Kickstart70 at 4:26 PM on November 7, 2005

Well, of course, many of the large-endowment universities (those in the multi-billion dollar range) could probably stand to abolish tuition for all students, period, and funnel donations towards research grants rather than scholarships.

Unfortunately, the laws surrounding university endowment funds is far more complicated then it should be. Put simply, universities typically are very, very restricted in what they can use the money for. If a donor puts restrictions on the use of the money, the University has to obey it. The situation regarding tuition dollars is the same way.

Harvard might have a $25B endowment, but that doesn't mean that they have money to burn. Yale is probably considering themselves very lucky that they can use this wonderful gift in this manner.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:40 PM on November 7, 2005

It will be interesting to see how Yale's gift and new tuition-free policy affects Curtis, if at all, given that one of the Institute's major attractions versus peer schools (i.e., Yale, Juilliard, etc.) has been its long-standing free ride for all students enrolled. The caliber of the faculty is of primary importance, of course, but a number of the faculty of these major conservatories also teach at one or more of the others.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 4:51 PM on November 7, 2005

linux - minimum PhD stipends have improved at Yale - now $18,000.

But this is really wonderul news for the music students, who have always had to scrabble for funding. It's not like they are walking out into high paying jobs (their job prospects are worse than humanities PhDs!) - but they really are amazingly talented people. The world is made a better place for letting them polish their art.
posted by jb at 4:58 PM on November 7, 2005

Stein is a douchebag. Bork, shining light of constitutional law?
posted by papakwanz at 7:05 PM on November 7, 2005

Stein is crazy. I don't think an LBO has been done with only 10% equity since like 1989.
posted by mullacc at 7:53 PM on November 7, 2005

This is simply good business. Yale's music school will immediately go to the top in terms of the quality of its applicants.

I kind of wish it were Juilliard, in that that would not only be good for the school, but also the city. It would mean more shows and music for more people to attend, as opposed to better music for an insular privileged community. Not sure that this is entirely fair response, but that was my first reaction.
posted by xammerboy at 8:58 PM on November 7, 2005

This is amazing to me, in two main ways: it sure does warm the heart to know that Yale will be able to do this for its students in music.

But more importantly, I lately find myself on the front lines fighting the business-paradigm-cancer that has infected universities and colleges throughout the US, and has impacted arts and humanities programs most noticeably. I love that someone gave a hundred million dollars to something "frivolous" and "without any real world practical value" (as many who subscribe to this product-based view of education might say).

(I'm also glad I was stunningly impractical 15 years ago when I decided to study music. But that's off topic.)
posted by LooseFilter at 10:27 PM on November 7, 2005

That link to the 50 largest endowments is a little misleading: it contains state universities, which receive hefty annual public funding.

For example, my current institution, the University of Minnesota, is on the list, with an endowment of $1.7 billion. But the annual budget was somewhere around $1.2 billion in 2004, with over 50% coming from the state. The U of M spends an amount comparable to Harvard or Yale every year (of course, there are something like 40-50,000 students here). Forgive the lack of rigour in this analysis.
posted by dsword at 5:23 AM on November 8, 2005

The level of public funding to public universities has plummeted in most states. For example, New York State funds less than 50% of its public univesity system and there has been an increasing reliance on alumni fundraising at all of the SUNY schools. Public education does not mean public funding.
posted by bluesky43 at 7:20 AM on November 8, 2005

God, it's like they didn't even consider free beer in the cafeteria!
posted by Pollomacho at 7:31 AM on November 8, 2005

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