Universities are now major fund-raising organisations; and I guess that is one of the biggest changes in the whole higher education culture over my career. You can have different views of this. On one side, it can seem like a useful way of channelling 'spare cash' into a good cause, and of raising money from generous people to support what the government no longer pays for. And generous and self-effacing many benefactors are, as I know from my own college.
It can even be a way of directing money acquired in, to put this mildly, dubious ways to noble projects. I never quite know whether I think that it is good idea to convert (say) the profits of tobacco into the support of education, or whether the support of education is a merely a fig leaf to give (say) the tobacco industry respectability. I prefer to think the former, but it's a dilemma that actually goes back a lot further than modern money raising campaigns or, for that matter, than Cecil Rhodes. I am both grateful to those ancient founders whose portraits I see looking sternly down from college dining halls in Cambridge, and suspect that their foundations have done a lot to launder their posthumous reputations.
On the other hand, there are those on the inside who look at a load of academics, under the command of their now powerful Development Offices, fawning after a handful of the super-rich -- and are heard to mutter under their breath "licensed begging" (or worse).
What is surprising then, or perhaps cheering, is that the larger part of the major donations my own Faculty has received over the last 100 years have come out of the blue, from donors who had not been 'courted' at all. And yesterday we were the beneficiaries of one of those: the Reverend Canon J H Gray ('Joey' to his mates).