King University may reject $1M in alumni pledges

Nathan Baker • Feb 18, 2014 at 10:13 AM

A group representing the alumni of King University released a statement Monday saying its members still plan to live up to the organization’s promise to raise $1 million for the school if President Gregory Jordan voluntarily left or was removed from office, but officials with the college say the money may not be accepted.

Jordan’s immediate resignation Friday, after months of unrest on the Presbyterian college’s Bristol campus, was a “big moment” in the history of the private university and would no doubt bring about higher alumni involvement in the institution’s operations, according to the emailed release from the Concerned Alumni of King, a group that was very active in challenging Jordan’s authority.

Now that the protested president is gone, former students hope to have more input into the direction of King, including in the selection of a new leader.

In part to prove the alumni’s commitment to their alma mater, the activist group kicked off a fundraiser last week intended to donate $1 million to King over the next five years, but only if Jordan no longer helmed the university.

The funding is also contingent upon other stipulations, namely, the identities of the school’s board of trustees’ members must be posted to King’s website and the board must have a full hearing with faculty and staff examining the “alleged abuses caused by President Jordan’s actions” and laying out a plan to bring justice for those employees.

According to the group, the campaign’s first week brought $315,000 in pledges, many from alumni who had never previously donated.

But the fundraising may be for naught if the college’s governing board chooses not to accept the pledges or abide by the stipulations.

On Monday, King spokeswoman Laura Boggan reaffirmed a position stated last week by a university trustee, who said it’s against the board’s policy to receive donations with strings attached.

“We are appreciative of the renewed excitement demonstrated by this group of alumni for the school they love,” Trustee and chair of the board’s Development Committee Bill Bryant was quoted as saying in an emailed statement last week. “We hope they would give to the school without contingencies. However, it is not the policy of King University to accept donations that have required personnel or policy conditions attached to the donation.”

Although the president has changed, that policy remains the same, Boggan said.

The school brings in approximately $2 million each year in unrestricted gifts, Boggan said, drawing a line between gifts, which are concrete donations of money, and pledges, which are expressed intentions to donate.

After months of contention between Jordan and faculty members, who said the president was unresponsive to their expressed concerns that his recent decisions to establish satellite campuses, change the structure of degree programs and terminate certain employees were leading King on the wrong course, two-thirds of the college’s professors and other staff said they had no confidence in the president’s leadership during a private vote.

Students, who caught wind of the turmoil from their professors, staged protests and prayer circles calling for Jordan to step down.

After accepting his resignation, the board of trustees appointed the board’s Vice Chairman Richard Ray to act as the school’s interim president while a search for a new president is conducted.

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