Revisionist History My Little Hundred Million

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In the early ’90s, Hank Rowan gave $100 million to a university in New Jersey, an act of extraordinary generosity that helped launch the greatest explosion in educational philanthropy since the days of Andrew Carnegie and the Rockefellers. But Rowan gave his money to Glassboro State University, a tiny, almost bankrupt school in South Jersey, while almost all of the philanthropists who followed his lead made their donations to elite schools such as Harvard and Yale. Why did no one follow Rowan’s example?

“My Little Hundred Million” is the third part of Revisionist History’s educational miniseries. It looks at the hidden ideologies behind giving and how a strange set of ideas has hijacked educational philanthropy.

CORRECTION: In this episode’s discussion of the industrial revolution, the original script read, “One theory is that England was lucky enough to have more geniuses than anyone else, like James Watt, who invents the steam engine.” James Watt was Scottish, and so the word England has been changed to Britain in the audio version.

The Host

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is president and co-founder of Pushkin Industries. He is a journalist, a speaker, and the author of six New York Times bestsellers including The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers,…