Thursday, January 29, 2009

Endowments, art collections, donor intent, oh my!

In our continuing coverage of how the financial crisis is effecting nonprofits, here's the story of Brandeis University and it's Rose Museum. The University trustees have voted to close the museum and sell pieces of the collection - some very valuable pieces, I might add. In this NPR interview, Brandeis President says he will not violate any donor intent but sees educating students as more important than keeping the museum open. The University says it will not turn away any current students who cannot pay their bills at this time. With an endowment that's lost significant value, I think that the University is staying true to its core mission and doing the right thing. On the other hand, it's not really a good time to be selling art either, so is it really prudent to sell when prices are low? Are University trustees upholding their duty of care? What do others think?

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