Fat Girls

An alumna of Stephens College, an all-female college in Columbia, Missouri, plans to give $1 million to her alma mater. What prompted this generosity, especially at a time when many are cutting back on their charitable contributions?

Apparently, she thinks her school is too fat. According to an article by Janese Silvey in the Columbia Tribune:

A health-conscious alumna from Oregon has agreed to donate $1 million to Stephens if faculty and staff lose a collective 250 pounds by Jan. 1. Oh, and if college President Dianne Lynch personally drops 25 pounds, the donor will give another $100,000.

The challenge came out of a recent private conversation between Lynch and the donor, who wants to remain anonymous. “You know? You could lose a little weight,” the alumna told her.

While Stephens isn’t the first school to institute an official weight loss campaign, this does appear to be the first time a college’s fundraising efforts are directly connected to its collective body mass.

It also may well be the first time a college president managed to leverage a donation out of conversation in which an alumnus basically just indicated that she was too fat. This, incidentally, is Stephens President Dianne Lynch. Granted, it’s an official photograph so it’s probably rather flattering but Lynch doesn’t appear to be at all overweight.

Am I the only one who finds this sort of financial relationship a little disturbing?

The anonymous alumna apparently still weighs 117 pounds. And no doubt she also has a daughter who’s battled an eating disorder for years.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer