Old-timers may recall that there was a little event last year that had a lot of people riled up — there were angry letters to me and my university, with frequent demands for my immediate firing. The university stood up for academic freedom, I’m happy to say, but there was one other concern. A lot of these letters had another kind of threat: they said they were not going to be making donations to UMM. I have several letters where people said that they had been planning to donate sums on the order of a million dollars, but because I was there, the money was going to go somewhere else.

That’s not good to hear. Like most universities, we’re always strapped for cash, and I know we have ambitious plans for building up an endowment. Adding up all these denials of donations, and comparing it to the standard numbers for the year, it looked like we would be getting nothing this year. Actually, it looked like we would be several millions into the negative numbers.

Strangely, though, we just got the figures for charitable donations to UMM, and they’re up 25% over the previous year, at a time when overall donations to the University of Minnesota system are down.

I have to think about this. Either this would have been an even better year for us if I’d kept my mouth shut, with donations up by several hundred percent, or…all those letter writers were lying to us. That couldn’t be, though — they were all such good Catholics.

Before anyone jumps to conclusions, I have absolutely nothing to do with the increase in donations, either. We’ve got a good staff that has been working hard to promote this great little liberal arts college in western Minnesota, and I haven’t been part of it. To be honest, they’d probably rather I wasn’t…