Raising money in the groves of academe is yielding some strange bonanzas in these days of raging inflation and our ever-more-complex tax code. Consider Cornell: In a five-year fund drive which netted $250 million, the upstate New York school collected a farm, a herd of cattle, 38,500 gallons of California grape pressings and oil and gas properties. "More than 40 percent of gifts in excess of $100,000 came in the unusual forms," Cornell Board Chairman Janson Noyes Jr. said, crediting the "creative giving" with the record results. Creative giving often means donations which are worth more to the school than they cost the donor. Also, when they are truly creative, such gifts can create a tidy tax deduction for the donor. The result can be a large, if somewhat unusual, windfall for the school. The grape pressings -- also called unfinished wine -- are expected to bring more than $200,000 to the university when they mature in 1983, he said. Noyes, president of an investment firm, gave these details of unusual gifts:
An $8-million gift of oil and gas properties in Oklahoma in support of Cornell's Department of Geological Sciences.
Marketable securities in an Australian shale oil company valued at $2.5 million and marketable securities in an Guatemalan oil company valued at $1.2 million.
A farm in Brewster, N.Y., valued at $1 million, given with the stipulation that income from its sale would go to the New York State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell.
A collection of gold coins valued at $1 million, with proceeds from their sale going to the Department of Physical Education and Athletics.
A herd of cattle to fund a memorial scholarship program.