Endowments and the elite : a political economic study of the Whitman endowment
Megumi Gretchen Rierson
May 9, 2018
Department or Program
How does the Whitman endowment work, and who does it work for? Using interviews with key financial officers of the college, analyses of Whitman’s asset allocation, and written histories of the college, I seek to engage with and supplement scholarly conversations about the relationship between higher education and financialized late capitalism as it manifests specifically at our institution. I argue that the primary purpose of the Whitman endowment is to finance a tradition of elite reproduction that is steeped in the history of the college and exacerbated by the concurrent histories of the rise of finance capital and its resultant wealth stratification. Though the Whitman endowment serves many purposes -- including financial aid and academic support -- the bulk of its funds finance Whitman's desire for increased institutional prestige and elite graduates who will donate their wealth to maintain the current Whitman experience that is defined by exclusivity and elitism.