It’s Official: Dough on the Way

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sfsLow press briefings, Bwog is aware, are typically not very interesting. This one didn’t disappoint–PrezBo took a few softball questions from a few journalists in his low, almost subsonic tones–but we did get to meet Mr. Kluge himself, a charming old man whose death will bring the University more money than we can really comprehend.

Sounding like PrezBo on loop, Kluge talked about the importance of making Columbia a global university, and a bit about his experience as a scholarship student, which accounts for his focus on financial aid programs.

“I’m not interested in buildings. I’m interested in minds,” Kluge said, noting that other alums should belly up to the bar: “An institution like Columbia is really dependent on its alumni. And I would like to have this gift a token of what alumni can do and should do. That’s the only way an institution that’s private can exist in the future.”

Following the briefing, the entire administrative apparatus of Columbia (Robert Kasdin, Zvi Galil, Nick Dirks, Austin Quigley, and Nick Lemann all sighted), plus enough Kluge scholars and others to create a standing-room-only event, schmoozed in the Rotunda to the beats of a three-piece lounge band. Bwog had to skip out for the actual announcement, which ran a half hour late, but Mayor Bloomberg, Congressman Rangel, and Truman winner Ron Towns were all on the agenda. Check Spec and every other New York media outlet a bit later for the congratulatory pablum.



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  1. ehehm

    in the spirit of bwog personals:

    Lydia is Hooooooooooooooootttttttt.

    That is all.

  2. money money money  

    Always sunny
    In our PrezBo's world.

  3. finally  

    an explanation for those news trucks outside the gates. yay.

  4. awesome  

    Last week: Financial Aid Scandal
    This week: Largest Gift Ever to Columbia

    Columbia alums redeem her.

  5. I Always Wonder  

    Once you've made the announcement, why wait til you die to give up the money? It's not like you're going to use it for anything. It seems to me that the funds could be handled just as well by the university as the individual's financial advisors, so why not just fork it over immediately? Perhaps there's an economic reason I'm missing. Could anyone tell me if this is the case?

  6. Sugar

    Kluge is our collective sugar daddy. God Bless!

  7. Alum

    Estate taxes can be huge, and paying the gift from the estate will get a huge deduction. Because Kluge's personal income over his remaining years is unlikely to reach $400 million, he would not be able to take full advantage of the tax deduction by offsetting an equivalent amount of income -- and even if he could, the deduction would be smaller because income taxes are less than estate taxes. The bigger deduction means there will be more money available for Mr. Kluge's heirs and other beneficiaries of his estate.

  8. intentional color?  

    perhaps a lot of it is in stocks that he would rather not liquidate so he can retain some majority partnerships or something. who cares why he's keeping it until he passes away. warren buffett's doing the same thing, this is nothing new. stop sounding so greedy

  9. another alum

    It's as much about helping his heirs as it is about helping Columbia.

    Estate planning is a huge industry in the US - and a large reason why not-for-profit organizations (and myriad attorneys) stay in business. Keep in mind that Columbia is getting funds that could otherwise go to the IRS.

    I wonder if any SDS/ISO morons are going to bemoan this hugely successful capitalist-philanthropist for not 'paying his fair share'. Liberal-minded billionaires (George Soros, even) don't like to pay taxes. They tend to regard government as an inefficient bureaucracy.

    Also very apropos that this gift comes the week of April 15.

  10. Alum

    Keep in mind that this is probably not the only large charitible bequest Kluge plans to make. He might give away a billion or more in total, and it would make no sense to do it in a way that lets the IRS get hundreds of millions of dollars he could otherwise give his kids.

    More realistically, the choice isn't even between the kids and the IRS at all. Most rich people make protecting their kids' inheritance their top priority. It really comes down to a choice between giving the money to Columbia et al or letting the IRS have it. Giving away $400 million after he dies might only reduce what his kids get by, say, $200 million. If he gave the money to CU now he would need to find a way to ensure the kids still got that $200 million, which might mean he'd only be able to give Columbia $300 million or less. Making a bequest instead of a gift enables him to substantially increase the donation without taking anything away from his heirs.

  11. d'oh  

    After Austin brought in the donation, AND persuaded the donor to donate half to the University, they showed him no respect, putting him at some table far from the bigwigs.

  12. Alum

    Yes, he really meant son. John II was born when John I was about 68 or 69 years old. I was pretty amazed when I first heard it, too.

    Fwiw, Prof. Robert Mundell (econ) had a son at about the same age.

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