Make the peaks higher: Philanthropy and the search for academic excellence

Center for Biology + Society, Conversation Series

Susan Fitzpatrick, President, James S. McDonnell Foundation
Kate MacCord, Project Coordinator, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University

A guiding principle for how many private foundations invest in academic scholarship research dates to the early days of the 20th Century and the influence of the Rockefeller Foundation (make the peaks higher) and Carnegie Endowment (seek the exceptional man). The idea that philanthropy should seek to fund  “people not programs” has influenced foundations for a century, but a funding strategy based on an ability to identify scientific excellence depends on the ability to make objective measurement with an agreed upon set of characteristics. How do foundations define excellence – particularly in the context of academic research? What is it that makes a potential grantee “exceptional?” What societal responsibilities do philanthropists have (if any) when making decisions about funding based on a standard of excellence that may not be universally shared?

Join us for a series of conversations at the intersection of biology and society.

Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP here.

Learn more here.

Tuesday, Feb. 7 | 11:45 a.m. - 1 p.m.
LSC 202
School of Life Sciences - C wing