Friday, September 4, 2009
The Nonprofit Times reports that a New Orleans judge has ruled in favor of Tulane University in a donor intent dispute. The plaintiff is the great niece of a donor who more than a century ago left a large bequest to Tulane so that it might establish a women's college. The college existed for more than a century, but during a post-Katrina reorganization Tulane decided to close it down and replace it with an institute that would focus on similar issues. (This is similar, I believe, to what happened a few years ago to Radcliffe College.)
This is another in a long string of recent cases -- many involving universities -- where donors or their heirs have challenged charities' use of donated monies. I enjoy referring to these cases in my Nonprofit Law class because they illustrate the fact that US nonprofit law is still a befuddling mix of corporate and trust law doctrines. Visitation rights applied to corporations? Quasi cy pres? They find it stimulatingly unpredictable and confusing.