Paul Smith's College loses out on $20 million gift

Paul Smith's College loses out on $20 million gift
Paul Smith's College in upstate New York lost out on Joan Weill's $20 million dollar donation but it has a new donor.

Paul Smith's College, a tiny school in upstate New York, is keeping its name but giving up a $20 million donation.

Philanthropist Joan Weill, a friend of the college and wife of former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weil, was ready to donate that large sum. The only catch was the school would have to be renamed Joan Weill-Paul Smith's College.

The college said it would not appeal a ruling made earlier this month when a local judge denied the college's petition for a name change.

Decades ago, local businessman Phelps Smith donated the land on which the school is built, and he stipulated in his will that it be named after his father and "be forever known as 'Paul Smith's College of Arts and Sciences."

Any question of whether Joan Weill would donate $20 million without the name change was answered on Thursday.

"As a result of the court ruling that effectively barred the name change, there will be no gift in accordance with that deal," Paul Smith's spokesman, Bob Bennett, told CNNMoney.

"The Weills have been very generous to Paul Smith's College over the years, but I can't comment on the possibility of their future philanthropy," Bennett said.

Over the past 20 years, the Weills have donated $10 million to the college and helped it raise $30 million from other donors. Joan Weill has also served on its board of trustees for 19 years and the building that houses the school's library and student center is already named after her.

Joan Weill was not available for comment Thursday.

The potential for a $20 million donation would have been a boon to the school. By comparison, the college's largest individual gift for the 2013-14 year was $400,000, according to Paul Smith's website.

A member of an alumni Facebook page suggested that 1,000 donors each give $1,000. "That would raise a million dollars. If it was monthly for a year. It would be a $ 84.00 charge on your charge card. Very doable."

A family with long-standing ties to the region has pledged a Coming Home Challenge gift to encourage financial support from a broader number of people. They pledge to match every dollar donated by current students with a $10 contribution, for up to $1 million.

The donors, who wish to remain anonymous, will match donations by alumni, faculty, staff and families of Paul Smith's community members for lesser amounts too.

"It's our hope that this matching challenge will inspire all members of the Paul Smith's College community -- whether they are students, alumni, families, employees, Trustees or Adirondack neighbors -- to come together and demonstrate the importance of the college, the individual significance of each student's experience and our collective commitment to participating in the college's long-term health," stated a representative of the donors.

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