Over the past twenty-five years, the philanthropic landscape in the United States has changed significantly. As Americans' trust in institutions has declined, restricted giving has become more commonplace, while the number of wealthy Americans interested in establishing their own foundations has increased. At the same time, growing numbers of women and minorities have assumed leadership positions at foundations and nonprofits, while diversity — of staff and boards — has become a watchword, if not yet established fact.
Over the same period, the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University has established itself as a premier training ground for current and future nonprofit executives. In June, Indiana University announced that Eugene Tempel, who directed the center from 1997 to 2008, would be leaving his post as head of the IU Foundation, a position he has held for the last four years, to head up efforts to develop a School of Philanthropy within the IU system.
Recently, Philanthropy News Digest spoke with Tempel about the new school and the steps he and others are taking to make it a reality.
Philanthropy News Digest: Earlier this year, Case Western Reserve University announced a major restructuring of its Center for Nonprofit Management — in part because it was having difficulty attracting students to the program. Are there enough students interested in pursuing an advanced degree in philanthropy to support a School of Philanthropy at Indiana?
Eugene Tempel: I think so. For what it's worth, we continue to attract students, even though the amount of aid and fellowships we're able to offer is not as robust as we'd like. Still, what we've noticed over a long period of time with our master's program is that demand far exceeds supply. And the only students who have any difficulty finding a job after they graduate are students who want to be in a specific location looking for a very specific kind of job. That said, I wasn't inside the Case Western Reserve situation, but the Center for Nonprofit Management there was a very complex organization. It was "owned" by four different entities, and that created a number of challenges. Case also turned the center's master's degree into a sixty credit-hour program. Students looking at that were likely to be tempted by some of the thirty-six credit-hour programs out there, many of which are attracting students.
PND: How big an endowment will the new School of Philanthropy need?
ET: We set a goal of $100 million, and we've raised about $68 million of that for programs currently housed in the Center on Philanthropy, including fellowships and sponsorships of students majoring in philanthropic studies at the baccalaureate, master's, and Ph.D. levels who take their programs through the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI and the university's graduate school. We believe that endowment level will be a good foundation. But the school will be largely privately funded, and so it will need to continue raising private funds and seeking other sources of support even after we reach our goal. The key to building the school over time is to continue adding to the funds that are available for its operations, especially funds earmarked for additional faculty hires — not only faculty who teach but those who do research — because that's an important part of the school's reputational base and part of what it contributes back to the school and the larger society. Also, we'll need to continue to build resources for the fellowships and scholarships that help attract and support the students who come to learn and work in these programs.
PND: Who or what do you see as competition for the school?
ET: I think some of the top-notch public affairs programs that offer degrees in this area could compete with us for students, but they could also be research collaborators. The Center on Philanthropy already has reached out to most of the people you would find at institutions in this space that are trying to do good work. Indeed, while the center has always aimed to be a leader in the field, we also strive to engage other institutions and involve them in programs we helped start. As those relationships develop over time, they become competitors for students and for faculty. And clearly, some of the institutions out there with strong reputations will compete with us for students. In fact, some of the students who come to us to get their Ph.D. in philanthropic studies decide to go on to doctoral programs in history or a field like that because of the fellowships that are offered elsewhere. At the same time, some of the programs that teach about the nonprofit sector have begun to hire our Ph.D. graduates as faculty and leaders for their programs.
PND: Why did you choose to leave the IU Foundation after only four years to head up this project?
ET: I left a vice chancellor's job once to head the Center on Philanthropy and people thought I was crazy. And when I left the Center on Philanthropy to run the IU Foundation, at least one of your colleagues in the media called me and said, "Are you nuts?" But look, I agreed be president of the IU Foundation for no more than five years. The dirty secret is, I'm already sixty-five, so when they asked me about helping develop a school of philanthropy, we'd already been discussing a succession plan for the person who would take my place at the foundation. As you know, they were able to find Daniel Smith [Ed note: dean of the IU Kelley School of Business] within the IU community, which allowed me to move to the center earlier and dedicate my energies to helping start the new school.
I've been committed to the center since we got the first planning grants and funding from the Lilly Endowment some twenty-five-plus years ago. And even though I didn't work in the center until 1997, I've never been far from it as a volunteer, whether working on an advisory board or helping with a project. One reason I've never left Indiana University is because the center's been there and I've been able to be part of it.
PND: What are the next steps in terms of creating the school?
ET: The proposal hasn't been made to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education yet. That's the next crucial step. All the work that's going on now at the center and in our academic programs continues. Any student coming this fall, for example, will go right into philanthropic programs operated through the School of Liberal Arts and other departments around the university, just as they always have. We think we've planned well, there are no new degrees to be approved, and we hope the commission will consider our application favorably, but ultimately the decision is theirs. If the commission approves the proposal, then we still have the hard work of developing budgets and institutional structures, working with faculty and staff committees — the collaborative, detailed work it takes to bring a school to fruition. We also hope there'll be funds to allow us to begin recruiting soon for some key faculty positions. Plus, we will continue to work to raise additional funds, so that by the time the school is ready to open its doors — sometime in 2013, we hope — we'll have additional funds to add to the endowment.
— Matt Sinclair