This was bound to happen – when a smart administrator is looking for extra-cash, they’re bound to find it. Let’s face it, we already have a name plaque on everything that can be sold anyway. So if you are teaching a class with a donor’s name on the door, why not have a donor for class itself?
To Don Q. Griffin, it was just an idea. But to many commentators, it endangered academic freedom.
Near the end of June, in the midst of one of the worst budget crises in California history, the City College of San Francisco chancellor told The San Francisco Chronicle that any private donor who gave $6,000 to the institution would have the canceled course of his or her choice revived and named after them.
The critics, including trustees who learned of the chancellor’s idea only after reading about it in the newspaper, wailed. While donors have endowed chairs and entire divisions of colleges for years, this was different, critics said. What would happen, they asked, if — for example — the college offered a health course sponsored by a big alcohol or tobacco company?
After Milton Marks, president of the board of trustees, emphatically told The San Francisco Chronicle that “public education is not for sale” in a retort to the idea, Griffin changed his tune about naming rights. Now, months after tabling the naming idea altogether, Griffin has approached the trustees with a set of guidelines he believes will save courses but maintain the highest integrity in doing so, keeping donors from stipulating usage of their dollars and influencing course content.
“Obviously that wasn’t a premeditated conversation,” Griffin said. “We’re just looking for a source for dollars. I wanted to talk about the state of community colleges in California. We’re going to cut 800 sections this fall and spring. I was thinking if we could get sponsors to save those sections. The naming concept, that’s where I got off course. The story kind of took off from there.”
Needed cash – understood! Idea sort of came to me out of the blue – how amazing! who would have thought? You know what else brings in cash? Drugs and prostitution or maybe some backroom illegal gambling. Just saying, you know?