Sunday, November 12, 2006

How NOT to deal with a $20 million donor

The wire-service story seems clear enough:
MIAMI, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- A medical entrepreneur has withdrawn a promised $20 million donation to the planned Florida International University medical school.

Herbert Wertheim, a former optometrist [and a university board member for nearly 20 years] , said that Florida International University President Modesto Maidique hurt his feelings by saying he was getting the medical school named after him "on the cheap," the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported. Wertheim has also resigned from the board and has asked that the name of the school be changed.

The dispute, which appears to have ended a long friendship between Wertheim and Maidique, began with a disagreement about structuring the gift. After promising a lump sum, Wertheim said he needed to change that to 26 months of installments for tax reasons and was told that a lump sum was needed to get a matching grant from the state. "Most offensive to me was your comment that I was given the naming rights of the medical school 'on the cheap,' and that you could now get $100 million for it," Wertheim wrote Maidique. "After we finished speaking, I felt hurt, empty and disappointed."

[Yea, that's not really the feeling one hopes to leave behind from a call with a longtime major donor to one's organization is it?. Methinks the rest of the university's board might soon be making President Maidique feel "hurt , empty and disappointed".]

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