Thursday, December 11, 2008

Whose Money Is It Anyway?

Really interesting story - if you're interested in fund-raising and endowments. Imagine your college received an endowment over 40 years ago for a very specific purpose. In the intervening years, programs and priorities have changed and the endowment has likely grown. What if the program is too small for the endowment now? Can you spend the money on other priorities? Or related priorities? That's how I understand this story - any grants and foundation people want to chime in? Princeton Settles Money Battle Over Gift
Ending a long legal battle over how closely a university must adhere to the terms of a gift, Princeton has reached a settlement with heirs to the A.&P. grocery fortune, allowing it to keep the bulk of a fund worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The case had been closely watched by many universities and colleges that often find themselves managing donations with strict instructions attached, though they would rather use the money in other ways.

In 1961, when the A.&P. grocery heirs Charles and Marie Robertson gave Princeton a $35 million gift endowment, they directed that the money should be used to educate graduate students for careers in government.

But in a lawsuit filed in 2002, the Robertsons’ descendants claimed that Princeton was misusing the gift, which peaked at more than $900 million in June, spending it on training students for a broader range of careers. The endowment provides most of the financing for graduate programs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

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