Monday, October 25, 2010

Fisk Fund (UPDATED 2X)

The chess match between the judge in the Fisk case and the Tennessee Attorney General continues. The AG has now submitted a new proposal that "clearly would most closely approximate Ms. O'Keeffe's intent," namely the establishment of a fund that has already "received commitments" that would ensure a permanent endowment "sufficient to generate the proceeds needed to pay the costs of keeping the Collection full-time at Fisk." The brief from which those quotes are taken is here. A second, related brief (opposing the revised Crystal Bridges deal) is here. AP story here.

I've long given up trying to predict how Judge Lyle will rule in this case, but I doubt this latest plan will fly with her. In her ruling rejecting the AG's last plan (for a relocation of the Collection to the Frist Center until Fisk's financial situation had improved), she said: "It would not be in keeping ... with the donor's intent to keep the Collection in Nashville at the cost of sacrificing the existence of Fisk University" (my emphasis). The new proposal relieves Fisk of the approximately $130,000 a year that it takes to maintain the Collection, but it does nothing to help with Fisk's larger financial problems. (She found that it was "on the brink of closing.") I suspect it will be rejected.

UPDATE: Fisk issues a statement opposing the plan, on the grounds I mentioned in the main post: it "does not address Fisk's fundamental financial challenge which is that without a large infusion of cash Fisk cannot continue to operate." It's "another scheme which fails to address Fisk’s survival," and "the Court has already ruled that any proposal must address Fisk University’s overall financial health." They even quote the line I emphasized above ("It would not be in keeping ...").

UPDATE 2: The NYT's Robin Pogrebin has a brief story on the development here.