Report: Son of donor for UM's trip to Europe received millions in investments from the university
It appears one of the generous donors for Michigan’s trip overseas has also received investments from the university.
According to Matthew Dolan and David Jesse with the Detroit Free Press, the university has invested more than $100 million towards funds run by the son of Donald Graham. According to the article, Graham and his family foundation have made sizable donations to Michigan, including paying for half of the overseas trip:
U-M’s endowment has invested a total of $102 million in four private equity funds run by the son of U-M alumnus and mega-donor Donald Graham. Graham and his family foundation have donated more than $60 million to Michigan, including paying for half of the estimated $800,000 cost of the Wolverines’ trip to France last spring, organized by coach Jim Harbaugh.
While the donations and investments are not a red flag in themselves, they do raise the question of a potential conflict of interests according to Charlie Eaton as quoted from the Detroit Free Press article:
“This case raises questions about a conflict of interest. Is Michigan acting in the best interest of the university or in the interest of a donor?” said Eaton, assistant professor of sociology at University of California, Merced, who is writing a book about Wall Street’s relationship with higher education.
At the end of the day, donations and investments can be beneficial for many universities. However, it is a reminder that colleges and universities must exercise sound judgment when dealing with finances across the board.
Dolan and Jesse did note that external auditors gave a good report on the University of Michigan with few recommendations:
External auditors concluded that they generally found sound financial controls, though they recommended implementing stronger policies to avoid some potential conflicts of interest as well as stricter oversight of employee travel and gift from investment fund managers.