TIAA-CREF Salutes Carnegie Corporation on Its Centennial
TIAA-CREF, the Fortune 100 financial services company, today offered its congratulations to Carnegie Corporation for achieving a truly momentous milestone—and in the process shaping our society while profoundly enriching the lives of generations worldwide. In a letter to foundation staff, TIAA-CREF Chief Executive Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. lauds the grantmaker for “one of the best things it has ever done” -- establishing the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America
TIAA-CREF, the Fortune 100 financial services company, in a letter from Chief Executive Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. to the foundation’s staff, offered his congratulations to the grantmaker for achieving a truly momentous milestone—and in the process shaping our society while profoundly enriching the lives of generations worldwide.
Andrew Carnegie established the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) in 1917 with capital and initial subsidies from the Corporation. The story of how TIAA originated is actually one that points out the extraordinary effect that Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy has had on the quality of American higher education.
While serving as a Trustee at Cornell University, Carnegie was shocked to discover that teachers, “one of the highest professions,” in his words, earned less than his clerks and lacked retirement benefits.
In 1905, he established the Carnegie Teachers Pension Fund— which later received a national charter by Act of Congress and became The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching—with a $10 million endowment to provide free pensions to college and university teachers. But there were strings attached, and one requirement was that participating institutions had to have the highest academic admission standards of the day. As a result, colleges and universities across the nation raised their academic standards in order to join the pension system.
Carnegie’s biographer, Joseph Frazier Wall wrote, “With his pension plan, [he] had done more in a year to advance the standards of higher education within the United States than probably any carefully conceived program to accomplish that goal could ever have done.”
Carnegie eventually realized that even his personal wealth could not support the pension system’s growth. Therefore, through Carnegie Corporation of New York, he made a $1 million gift to establish TIAA.
The association managed the retirement accounts that were jointly funded by teachers and their employers. Now called TIAA-CREF, it is one of the world’s largest insurance companies.