We’ll probably get more stories like this for a while. Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman became the celebrity faces of “bribing their kids into college through illegal means.” What’s strange is that for the wealthy, well-connected and famous parent, there are a million ways to “bribe” colleges legally into letting their kids in. The Trump and Kushner examples are always cited – Jared Kushner is such an idiot that his father had to donate $2.5 million to Harvard to let him in, Donald Trump donated $1.5 million to Penn/Wharton to get Ivanka and Don Jr. in. So who else is doing it the legal way? Meryl Streep and Lorne Michaels!!
The recent college-admissions bribery scandal has put a spotlight on how the wealthy get their kids into higher education, with many affluent parents more than willing and able to make million-dollar donations before or after their kids earn their degrees. Cantor Fitzgerald billionaire Howard Lutnick made a huge donation — rumored to be $20 million — to Stanford, where two of his sons go, but only after the eldest was a junior there, a spokeswoman for Lutnick told me. Lutnick has also given $65 million to his alma mater, Haverford College.
“Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels made donations totaling in the six figures to the three universities where his kids went — Yale, Dartmouth and Vanderbilt — through the Michaels Family Foundation. A spokeswoman for Michaels said the money was given only after the children were accepted, and that Michaels also donates to several other schools he has no connection to.
Meryl Streep has donated $2 million to Vassar, which is her alma mater and where two of her daughters are alumnae, and DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg gave $1.25 million to Boston University a year after his twins, who are now in their mid-30s, graduated.
Michael Ovitz got a son into Brown University, according to Golden, and while the boy lasted only a year, the university reaped big benefits.
“Ovitz brought a number of his key clients, A-list people like Martin Scorsese, for well-publicized events that gave the campus, you know, a lot of panache,” Golden said.
Maybe I’m being too Pollyanna about this, but I suspect that Meryl Streep would have donated that money to her alma mater Vassar even if her daughters didn’t go there. Meryl probably even encouraged her girls to go there because Meryl’s Vassar experience was so amazing and she wanted that for her girls too. That being said, of course it’s not a good look. We’ve just become so inured to the quid pro quo of rich parents buying their kids’ way into college that it’s mostly a big shrug. Also: the Lorne Michaels thing is bugging me – “A spokeswoman for Michaels said the money was given only after the children were accepted…” Yeah, just because it happened after the admission, doesn’t make it any less shady. If anything, it looks like even more of a tit-for-tat.
Photos courtesy of Getty and WENN.