President's Blog

An Important Matter of Public Policy

In this blog, I’ve occasionally pointed to matter of public policy that have important implications for private higher education in general and Sweet Briar in particular.

One such issue is currently under discussion. As our elected leaders are negotiating an agreement to increase tax revenues and decrease government spending, some proposals have contemplated a change in the federal income tax deduction for charitable contributions. Some have argued that this deduction should be eliminated, while others have argued for a cap or reduction.

Along with other leaders of American’s private colleges and universities, I have strongly expressed my concern about any such action through national education organizations. I believe that any reduction in the federal income tax deduction for charitable giving would have an immediate and adverse effect on giving to Sweet Briar — and I know how important philanthropy is to our ability to fulfill our mission, maintain academic quality, and keep a Sweet Briar education affordable.

Please consider calling or emailing your elected representatives, adding your voice to mine in asking them to protect federal tax incentives for charitable giving. There is one central point for you to emphasize. As a supporter of American’s private sector in higher education, urge your representatives to protect the charitable giving deduction. Philanthropy represents the way the private sector supports services that the government therefore need not provide. Boosting tax revenues by discouraging philanthropy would be a false economy and bad public policy.

I am very proud of the public good provided by the private sector in higher education, as I am of the private support that allows distinctive institutions like Sweet Briar to flourish. As Indiana Fletcher Williams knew, philanthropy is the cornerstone that upholds private institutions; it should be encouraged by any public policy that aims to encourage a robust private sector.

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