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Silverglate: Universities Take Over Alumni Magazines

Harvey Silverglate, FIRE’s co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors, writes in The Boston Phoenix this week about the alarming trend among major universities towards university-controlled alumni publications. Silverglate points out that just like politicians and major corporations, universities are increasingly concerned about “controlling the message”—a stance that means traditional independent alumni publications become little more than unwanted interference. The result? Alumni are subjected to an avalanche of puff pieces, self-congratulatory blather, and thinly-veiled donation requests. Surveying the alumni publications of Harvard, Boston College, and Boston University, Silverglate discovers that all three gloss over controversies on campus for rosier, sanitized pieces that read more like advertisements than articles. Interestingly enough, however, universities nationwide are experiencing a marked decrease in alumni giving—suggesting to Silverglate that alumni across the country might have had enough of University, Inc.

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