Press Releases | Philanthropy

Princeton Lawsuit Offers Lesson for Trustees

December 10, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC—Anne D. Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and co-author of The Intelligent Donor’s Guide to College Giving, today issued the following statement regarding the settlement of the Robertson family donor-intent lawsuit against Princeton University:

Today’s news from Princeton University is a wake-up call for college trustees across the country. As fiduciaries, they must make certain their institutions do not find themselves in the same position as Princeton—paying out a hefty settlement after years of litigation and embarrassing discovery.

This news should also send a message to alumni, who support our universities so generously. Alumni must take care to craft good donor agreements and see that the institutions they love so much honor their terms.

Especially in these challenging times, alumni support can be the lifeblood of higher education. That’s why our colleges and universities—starting with those in charge, the trustees—must take proactive steps to make sure they are living up to their obligations to donors. This is a key part of ensuring a quality education.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is an independent non-profit dedicated to academic freedom, academic quality, and accountability. Since its founding in 1995, ACTA has counseled boards, educated the public and published reports about such issues as donor intent, good governance, historical literacy, core curricula, the free exchange of ideas, and accreditation in higher education.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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