Widgets Magazine


Why I give to Stanford

Back in the early 1980s, when Lake Lag was a lake and windsurfing was a one credit elective, when our computers were the size of refrigerators and we banged out our programs on punch cards, a dream came true. I was offered an athletic scholarship to attend Stanford. Then, as now, a Stanford education was so expensive that it wasn’t reasonable to even consider taking out loans to pay for it – the debt would be crippling. And paying cash wasn’t an option for me, a small town kid of limited means. It wasn’t going to happen without financial help.

I had a great experience at Stanford. I made great friends who are still my best friends today, our water polo team won a couple national championships (years number eight and nine in the current 39 year streak, if you’re counting) and I received a world class education.

I read the column the other day advocating for seniors to stop donating to Stanford, and making the case generally that Stanford has enough money. The authors said if we wanted to make a difference in the world, there are better, more thoughtful places to give. I got this at my core – I could have written this letter when I was graduating. I think I made a few small token gifts shortly after I graduated, but I knew the money wouldn’t move the needle. Like the authors of the column, I knew that if I truly wanted to make a difference in the world, there were better places to do it. So I gave money elsewhere, but more importantly, I gave my time and put my Stanford education to use working for land trusts like The Nature Conservancy, saving land for nearly 2o years.

Some-25 plus years since my graduation and with the perspective of time, I have a different view about giving to Stanford. It is hard to realize how special a Stanford education is, and how special being part of a lifelong Stanford community is, until you see it play out over decades. I’m just one of hundreds of thousands of Stanford students whose lives have been changed for the better. Beyond changing people, Stanford and the people it attracts are transforming the world around us. And I would argue that Stanford does this better than nearly all, if not all, educational institutions on the planet.

I’m giving again to Stanford now. Why, you ask? Because Stanford produces results; it transforms people and the world; and its students, faculty and staff inspire me. And I want to be part of that, because it makes me feel good and for me it is the right thing to do. I’ve also made a career change and am now giving my time to raise money to support students like me that couldn’t attend Stanford without financial help. If all goes well in my work in development at Stanford, hundreds more high school seniors will have the pleasure of saying yes to that special letter from Stanford in the spring.

Greg Gamble ‘87

Associate Director of Development

School of Humanities & Sciences

Contact Greg Gamble at ggamble ‘at’ stanford.edu.

  • AJ

    I earmark my donations for the athletic department– the true student-athlete (in that order) has come under attack recently, and it would be a shame for Stanford to cut back on its athletic programs. Athletics provides great value to the participants, the fans, the community, and the student body. Successful sports and athletes are a walking promotion of the university– they are the embodiment of determination and class.

    One of my most motivating experiences was when I was struggling on an ME pset in office hours with a few other students the night before it was due. Also there was a football player who had a practice at some ungodly hour the next morning. I was ready to give up and go back to my dorm, but then I thought if he was staying there until midnight to get it done, I had no excuse to leave.

  • ababababa12345

    I’m a little older than Greg and I also donate to Stanford. I give for a couple of reasons. First is to payback the support I got from the University as a student and for all the opportunities that were created as a result of my time on the farm. Second is to support the programs I value, yes all the University money is fungible but I still like giving my small annual gifts to the Art Dept, Chemical Engineering, Women’s Athletics, and the Stanford Fund. I also give to a variety of other organizations that provide support to people (e.g. The Tipping Point), the environment (e.g. The Peninsula Open Space Trust), and animals (e.g. Pet in Need). Each person should develop the portfolio of causes they support and no two portfolios need to be the same.

  • Johnson

    “Associate Director of Development.”

  • Jonathan Poto

    I’ve never seen why people get upset over giving to one cause or another. If we all just gave more, to good causes in general, rather than fulfill our consumer needs, the world would be in good shape. The authors reasons to give to Stanford are justified just as most people’s charitable giving is. I think the real debate is whether donating should be tax free, since that money could theoretically be allocated “better” (for lack of a more detailed description) by government, but defining what better is and holding government to a high standard is nearly impossible. Chances are money donated to Stanford will be more meaningful than tax dollars given to government.

  • JMJ

    “I care more about people having fun in athletics programs than I do about people dying” This is a blatantly wrong opinion and you should feel ashamed at being so thoughtless. I’m sure that you go around thinking you value human life, but your actions certainly don’t communicate this. How can you consider yourself a good person when there are children dying -that you have the power to save- yet you still do nothing? How do you sleep at night?

  • JMJ

    So… giving money to students who are vastly more wealthy than the average American is better than supporting Welfare and Medicaid? (which is what most taxes go towards) Not all causes are equal, and donating to Stanford is one of the worst ways to improve the world that I can possibly think of. I guess one could make the argument that a University that has a $16 billion endowment and raised $1 billion in 2012 needs more money to accomplish its goals… if they’re stupid

  • JMJ

    The notion that your donation does more good at Stanford than it does when used to buy malaria nets is ridiculous, and quite frankly, I expected better from a Stanford graduate. By donating to Stanford as opposed to AMF (which as the authors of the article you referenced note, can save around 12 people from dying for less than a Stanford tuition) you’re effectively valuing less than a year at Stanford more than 12 people’s lives. Why do you hate people in the developing world so much? Are there lives really of so little value to you that you value only part of a Stanford students year more than 12 of theirs? This post is bad, and you should feel bad for writing it. Some causes are absolutely better than others; anyone who can do basic math can see that.

    So, I guess you can give more money to kids that are already proven to be incredibly well-off even in comparison to the average American and feel all touchy-feely inside that you went to “Teh Best SchOOl ever”, or you could stop being a disgusting, narcissistic, and self-obsessed excuse for a human being and make an actual difference in the world?

  • guest

    While you were writing this reply, 5 children died of malaria! Why weren’t you in the developing world distributing nets? How do you sleep at night?

  • Jonathan Poto

    You’re right, fuck the students, especially the one’s on financial aid who miraculously put themselves in a position to be accepted (with some luck). All those Nobel Prize winners are exceptions. These Stanford students aren’t worth the investment to society. Especially with how many of them need help covering most of the $60k a year now that Stanford has made student debt a thing of the past. God forbid that a couple thousand uber-talented students a year should get this incredible opportunity, because some idealist thought their money might do more there instead of supporting Medicare. A real dreamer here!