Charlie Buttrey

A couple of weeks back, I blogged about the conundrum facing Paul Smith’s College, the small liberal arts college in upstate New York.

The college was created in 1937 with a bequest from Phelps Smith, which required that it “be forever known” as Paul Smith’s College of Arts and Sciences, in honor of his father.

The conundrum arose recently when Joan Weill, the wife of Wall Street billionaire Sanford I. Weill, and a long-time, and extremely generous patron of the school, proposed to contribute $20 million to the college.  On the condition that the college change its name to Joan Weill-Paul Smith’s College.  The administration was all for it.  The alumni?  Not so much.

In any event, as I wrote in the blog, a state judge rejected the college’s attempt at changing the school’s name, holding that to do so would violate a provision in its founder’s will that enshrined his father’s name on the college in perpetuity.

At that point, it was not clear what Mrs. Weill was going to do.  Would she give the money to the college anyway, without the condition, and undermine the argument of many critics who maintained that her motives were not entirely altruistic?  Or would she choose not to proceeds with the gift?

Today we got the answer.

The New York Times is reporting that Mrs. Weill will not proceed with the gift.

It’s her money and she can certainly do what she wants with it.  But it’s a pity that the college — which, like many intimate, tuition-dependent liberal arts schools would have benefitted enormously from the gift — is deprived of that opportunity solely because the condition attached to the gift has been invalidated.

Meanwhile, the Times reports, Paul Smith’s announced that an anonymous donor has offered a $5 million matching gift, which is intended to spur donations from alumni and other members of the community.

An anonymous gift.  I like the sound of that.

calling into question Mrs. Weill’s motives as a philanthropist).

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