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VIP Donor Preferences Cont’d

Some people, how naive of them, wrote in to ask if the College really gives preferences to big donors these days. Ha! The truth is that if you are a muckymuck like Sony CEO Michael Lynton, there is a dedicated staffer in the Dartmouth Development Office to show you and your daughter around campus. How solicitous of the College:

Wikileaks Admissions Comp.jpg

And such gentle phrasing: “I work with families as they go through the admissions process at Dartmouth.” That’s interesting. Nobody worked with my family. Did someone work with yours? Wait! Don’t answer that!

You can fairly expect that the College’s care extends to more than guided visits to Hanover. I just wonder if there is a set price list for an admittance, something like: you’ll need to make an upfront donation of a $1 million, plus $10,000 for every point your kid’s average SAT score is below 700. Score only 600, pay two million smacks, in you come. Or perhaps the price is higher?

If you want Jeff Sassorossi to work with your family, you can find out the details of the assistance that he can provide by calling him at 603-646-3657, or just drop him an e-mail: It will be interesting to see if he has time for you if your family’s net worth is anywhere south of $100 million.

Of course, Leon Black ‘73 is a former Trustee (and #105 on the Forbes 400; net worth: $3.5 billion) and the benefactor of the Black Arts Center.

This is all so very cosy. Who says that America does not have an aristocracy with its attendant privileges?

Addendum: A reader sends in a link to The Unz Review:

Here’s some fun gossip I heard from a fellow about the Harvard Number. He’s a reasonably well connected gentleman. On the other hand, he’s my only source for this and I don’t have the connections to check up on this, so take it for whatever it’s worth.

The Harvard Number is the amount of money Harvard would want as a donation for accepting your kid as an undergraduate. It’s not the kind of information they post on their website. You have to ask the right people in the right manner.

He said he just found out that the current Harvard Number — assuming your kid’s
application was “competitive” (i.e., there’s some chance your kid would get in even if you didn’t write a check) — is $5 million.

If your kid’s “not competitive,” then it is $10 million.

If there are about 1,800 freshmen at Harvard each year, then Harvard could admit, say, 100 competitive applicants whose fathers (typically, hedge fund guys) write the Harvard Number on a check — without tangibly lowering the quality of the class. That’s, theoretically, a half billion per year in virtually free money. How could an institution resist that temptation?

Quid pro quo arrangements aren’t supposed to be tax deductible as charity, but how often does the IRS get the goods on this? In practice, a big chunk of the Harvard Number gets refunded by the taxpayers.


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