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Jeff Koterba


Pay It Forward?

Q: A donor wants to set up a scholarship that encourages repayment. Should students sign a nonbinding letter stating their intent to pay back the scholarship within five years?

A: I love "pay it back" scholarships: You encourage recipients to give back to the same scholarship that benefited them. But should this really be a condition of receiving the scholarship? Do you want to combine your generosity with a message that suggests you aren't that generous? I would divorce the two.

The scholarship acceptance should say nothing about an expectation for a future gift. You could reference the many prior recipients who have "paid it forward," but do not force the student to sign an intent document. Just a simple "We hope that you will remember how this scholarship benefited you and that you will make a future gift to help another student" should suffice.

—John H. Taylor, John H. Taylor Consulting

Have a problem you just can't solve? Email your trickiest advancement questions to, and we'll try to find an expert to help.


What's Your Best Alumni Swag?

The Flying WV cookie is a sweet staple at WVU. In winter 2015, we released a cookie cutter so fans could show their pride at home. —Nikki Goodenow, assistant director, trademark licensing, West Virginia University

A Michigan-shaped bottle opener with our logo punched out to indicate the location of our college. Our alumni love these because they incorporate both K College and Michigan! —Kerri Barker, assistant director of alumni relations, Kalamazoo College, Michigan

Refillable glass bottles. They speak to our institution's focus on sustainability, and they were developed by an alumnus. —Rikke Rosenlund, alumni relations officer, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

Our seniors get a Greenhill Alumni logo laundry bag and a few packets of detergent because we KNOW it will be used in college! —Katie Young, director of alumni relations, Greenhill School, Texas

Purple is our main school color, so we give small plastic Band-Aid cases that say "I still bleed Purple." It's one way to show your love for JMU. —Ashley Privott, executive director, alumni association, James Madison University, Virginia

In the News

"A type of delusional thinking seems to convince American policymakers that excellent public colleges and universities can continue to be great without serious investment."
—Jonathan R. Cole, John Mitchell Mason Professor in Columbia University's Sociology Department, in his April 2016 article in The Atlantic that discusses dramatic cuts in state funding to public higher education institutions. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences' Lincoln Project reports that between 2008 and 2013, states reduced financial support to public research universities by 26 percent.




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