Via Instapundit, PU has settled with the Robertson family. I haven’t posted on this, but the story has been in the local papers for the past six years.
This was a huge lawsuit, because Robertson Foundation constitutes around eight percent of Princeton’s endowment with a value of $850-900 million.Princeton’s overall endowment was valued at $16.4 billion in June.
But the case wasn’t about that:
[Robertson] thought that his gift would persuade Princeton students to pursue careers in the State Department or other federal government positions devoted to international affairs. The money, he believed, would entice Princeton graduates to choose the Woodrow Wilson School for their graduate degree.
In December 1960 Robertson’s lawyer, Eugene Goodwillie, sent a memo to his client listing his concerns. “If 20 to 40 trained men come out of the W.W. School each year – how would they go about getting into government service?” Goodwillie asked. “What, if anything could be done to ensure that a substantial proportion of students enter government service?”
Goodwillie’s good questions were never satisfactorily answered. The Robertson files are thick with letters from Robertson to Woodrow Wilson School deans and Princeton presidents complaining that the school wasn’t placing enough Woodrow Wilson graduates in federal government jobs. However, a 1976 letter from Robertson to Common Cause founder John Gardner said that Robertson was generally pleased with what the Woodrow Wilson School was doing. (This letter is posted by Princeton in its website devoted to the Robertson lawsuit. The university gives no explanation as to why Robertson wrote to Gardner or what the school did to address Robertson’s earlier complaints.)
The result of this very expensive case, where both parties apparently spent well over $20 million each, is that
Princeton is providing $40 million to pay the legal fees of the Robertson family, establishing a $50 million foundation to prepare students for government service, and has pledged to dedicate the remaining funds to the support of the Woodrow Wilson school. The endowment will be dissolved, and replaced by a new university-controlled foundation (for fears about that, read our piece from last year) but substantively it looks like a victory for the Robertson family’s contentions about how the money was being used.
According to Bloomberg,
With $50 million from the settlement, the family will control a new foundation, with no relationship to Princeton, Robertson said. The foundation will select an undetermined number of universities and provide them with scholarships and support to recruit, train and place graduate students to serve the U.S. government, in keeping with his parents’ mission, he said.
Thus ends a six-year lawsuit.