Remedying individual wealth and income inequality is the central rallying cry of the Democratic Party and candidates, and progressive activists.

Bernie Sanders has made wealth redistribution a centerpiece of his campaign, which is inspiring college students.

Even Hillary Clinton, who along with her husband amassed a fortune in the tens of millions of dollars through speaking fees on campuses and for Wall Street, is singing the same tune.

Democratic Debate December 2015 Sanders Clinton

One overlooked area of wealth inequality is at the college level — some schools have amassed billion dollar plus endowments while others scrape for funds to meet operating expenses.

As of mid-2015, the University of Chicago endowment stood at 7.58 billion:

The University of Chicago endowment grew to an all-time high market value of $7.58 billion as of June 30, 2015, marking a 4.8 percent return on investments for the preceding year on a flat, global stock market environment. This result surpassed the portfolio’s benchmark return of 3.1 percent. It also surpassed the 3.6 percent median return of large endowments and foundations as reported by the Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service.

U. Chicago isn’t even in the Top 10 in terms of endowment:

Now two Chicago-area professors are calling for nationalizing private universities, or at minimum, that universities like U. Chicago redistribute their endowments by supporting other schools, Private universities should stop wealth-hoarding and share:

A snapshot from Chicago: In the past few weeks, as faculty and staff at Chicago State University reviewed their pink slips, and those at Northeastern Illinois University learned about mandatory furloughs amounting to 20 percent pay cuts, University of Chicago announced a $35 million gift from the founder of an investment firm to establish a “new think tank to research urban issues.” It received another $10 million dollar donation from the Pritzker family to fund “Urban Labs” that will support research addressing the “big challenges cities face.”

In fact, these donations are one of the challenges. Another is what can only be termed “wealth-hoarding” by private universities.

Our criticism of these large donations to the tax-exempt University of Chicago, which has a $7.5 billion dollar endowment, are undoubtedly sour grapes: We teach at institutions of higher education experiencing endless belt tightening and wage losses, and which, like most public colleges and universities, have no big donors on the horizon….

In this context, offering mass amounts of private wealth to already hugely wealthy private institutions is scandalous….

Our modest proposal, then, is that the University of Chicago and similarly well-endowed private institutions should share their assets with Chicago State, Northeastern Illinois and other struggling public schools….

Or, better yet, why not nationalize the private universities so that all students in Chicago, from all communities, can benefit from their excellent resources?

Research isn’t necessary to understand that sharing, not hoarding, is central to solving the “urban problems” of the day.

You will, of course, be *shocked* at the areas in which the professors teach:

Erica R. Meiners is a professor of education and gender and women’s studies at Northeastern Illinois University. Therese Quinn is an associate professor of art history and director of museum and exhibition studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Somewhere,  a certain retired professor at U. Illinois – Chicago is smiling.

(h/t to a Legal Insurrection reader in Chicago for this story)

[Featured Image – University of Chicago website]


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