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I want my money back

By Michael J. Smith on Friday October 26, 2007 08:29 PM

I'm a happy man tonight. I just read that the weedy son of some jillionaire donor is suing Princeton University for $880 mil -- Jeez, that's nearly a billion dollars! -- because Princeton supposedly didn't use it for the purpose the jillionaire had in mind. To increase my delight, the jillionaire's gift was originally given to -- drum roll! -- Princeton's "Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs", an institution which, as faithful readers here will know, I find deeply loathesome, and not just because of the prating, preachy swine it's named after. Though that would be enough.

The New York Times, caught between great wealth on one hand, and the 1/2 of the "big 2-1/2" on the other, steered a cautious course in reporting this one:


In a legal battle watched nervously by universities around the country, a New Jersey judge yesterday sent to trial a dispute between Princeton University and the heirs of a supermarket fortune and left open the possibility that Princeton could lose a donation that is now worth $880 million....

The dispute centers on whether Princeton University has adhered to the Robertsons’ wishes; Mrs. Robertson, an heir to the A.&P. supermarket fortune, gave Princeton $35 million in 1961 for its Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Her children say the money was intended to prepare students for work in federal government, especially in international affairs. They say, though, that few graduates have taken such jobs....

[The judge] said he would allow the family to reach back many years in its questioning to determine whether Princeton’s spending was appropriate; Princeton had hoped to limit the questioning to just a few years....

[Princeton] notes that its graduates include Anthony Lake, a former national security adviser to President Bill Clinton, and Gen. David H. Petraeus.

That last line is enough, right there, to justify taking the money back, and spending it on polo ponies, or $20,000 shower curtains, or burning it with the autumn leaves. Anything, anything! but another Anthony Lake. More generally, I'm with the jillionaires on this one. He who pays the piper gets to call the tune. Just who are these jumped-up professors, anyway, to live on the largesse of the wealthy and ignore their wishes?

Old Johann Sebastian Bach, when he worked for the Duke of Weimar, had to wear a servant's livery. He must have looked as hangdog and foolish as a parking valet at a midwestern Hilton hotel. I wish academics had to do the same -- dress like butlers and line up to tug their forelocks whenever a big donor should honor them with a visit.

Not that I like the donors, but the smugness of the profs drives me really crazy. Here I sit, they seem to say, in my endowed chair, looking down from a great moral and intellectual eminence. Never mind that the eminence is the summit of a dungheap -- and don't ask what rough beast excreted it.

Comments (3)


more! more ! more !!!!!


"...prating, preachy..."

You forgot "imperialist" and "racist."


"The summit of a dungheap" - perfect.

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