Last night, one of the great annual community events at the Kennedy School took place.
Every year we have an auction to raise money for our Summer Internship Fund. This fund provides financial support to students between the first and second year of their master's studies who wish to take summer jobs with non-profits or government organizations that can't afford to pay them a salary, so they can get some income they need to support their studies while contributing to the public good. The auction, which takes place every year, is one of the ways we raise money for this program.
The headline -- significant in itself -- is that the total amount raised at the auction, about $110,000, was actually up compared with last year's total, which was a bit under $100,000. Given what's happened to the stock market since last year's auction, this is truly amazing. The money goes to the school's summer internship fund.
What did some of the different items go for? An autographed copy (autographed in 2007) of the first edition of Barack Obama's "The Audacity of Hope" went for $750, even after the auctioneer (we actually get a professional auctioneer to volunteer his time for the event) noted that other Obama autographs are being sold on eBay for thousands of dollars.
Interestingly, a lunch for two with Betsy Myers, a very senior Obama election staffer (and graduate of the Kennedy School's mid-career program/former Kennedy School administrator), went for $1,100 -- a testimony either to the relative value of artifacts versus live, albeit one-shot, experiences or to home-team sentimentality.
Arguing in favor of the latter proposition is that dinner for six cooked by our dean, David Ellwood, at his home went for an eye-opening $1,800, after fairly furious bidding. A tour of New York City in a police squad car (an item donated to the auction by NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly) sold at $1,100, also after lively bidding.
Two Celtics tickets went for $800, four Chicago Cubs tickets (where did these come from?) for only $350; no Red Sox tickets were offered this year. A week at an incredible five-bedroom mansion in Jackson Hole, Wyo. (they showed a picture of this place -- it was spectacular) failed to attract the minimum bid of $5,000, and remained unsold.
Your blogger auctioned off again this year (in the silent auction) his much-offered "historic walking tour" of Boston, featuring Kelman's comments on the history of the locations being visited, for up to four students. Even though lunch was included, the tour went for only $100, less than what was bid for a one-hour massage by the masseur who was top-rated in Boston magazine's annual "Best of Boston" listings.