Thursday, August 20, 2009

Brandeis University Settles Donor Lawsuit Over Science Building

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Brandeis University has settled a lawsuit filed by a nephew of a donor who had been seeking to block the demolition of a science building named after his great uncle.

Pursuant to the settlement, Brandeis has agreed to name a research laboratory after the original donor, Julius Kalman, a Lithuanian immigrant who amassed a fortune in Boston real estate and left the bulk of it to Brandeis when he died in 1956.  The university will also place a prominent plaque honoring Kalman in the lobby of a new science center.

Sumner Kalman, the donor's great nephew, had filed the lawsuit in Suffolk County Probate Court in Boston in May to prevent Brandeis from tearing down the building due to disrepair, saying that such a move would violate his great-uncle's will.  He has now agreed to drop the suit.

In a statement, Brandeis said the school had made it a priority to update and replace older facilities and was pleased it had reached an agreement thatrecognizes "Julius Kalman's magnificent generosity to the university."

The Journal report continues:

The suit is one of two over gifts to Brandeis filed this year and part of a growing number of conflicts between donors and their descendants and cash-strapped U.S. colleges.

Last month, three overseers of Brandeis's Rose Art Museum sued the college, seeking to halt plans to sell art work from its $350 million collection. The school called the suit frivolous. In January, Brandeis said it would sell the collection because of a decline in its endowment and a steep budget shortfall. After announcing it would sell the collection in January, sparking protest in the art world, the school later backtracked, saying the museum wouldn't close but would become a teaching and exhibition gallery and only a limited number of artworks, if any, would be sold.


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