Financial Leadership from a Medieval Point of View
Universities can be subtle keepers of tradition. For instance, one of the first university endowments was created from feelings of being “unjustly vexed” and “enormously damnified.” It was in 1260 that John Balliol apparently caused these ill feelings by somehow offending the lord of an English castle. To make amends, John presented himself at the Durham Abbey, was publicly scourged by the bishop, and pledged perpetual maintenance for poor scholars. The upshot of John’s penance was Balliol College, Oxford. My colleague in institutional advancement liked the idea of public whipping for some donors. He suspected that it might be a useful way to boost the annual fund but doubts whether exacting money in such a way can be called charitable giving. In any case, endowments have been supporting higher education since the beginning. And enormously vexing regulations for resource management followed shortly thereafter. In keeping with tradition, modern institutions of higher education are still required to observe execrable rules that must be navigated by the highest-ranking officers of the college.