As Pennsylvania State University grappled with the fallout from its child sex-abuse scandal, university officials were instructed to remind outraged donors that they couldn’t get any money back, according to an internal memo released about two weeks after the scandal erupted in November.
The memo outlined “talking points” for telling donors that the university has not changed its policy, which states that once a gift is made, it won’t be returned.
The focus on fund raising was included in one of four internal memos publicized in an Associated Press article that sheds new light on how the university initially responded to the crisis, which resulted after assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing 10 boys. He has denied wrongdoing.
The other memos outlined damage-control steps taken by Penn State’s new president and provided a reminder that university officials should exude “remorse, humility, and resolve” when asked about the scandal.
The university may not be returning donations, but the scandal has caused some donors to hold back on fulfilling pledges or to discontinue monthly gifts. The crisis has the potential to depress donations and interfere with Penn State’s $2-billion capital campaign, which needs to raise $600-million by June 2014 to reach its goal.
What do you think of Penn State’s policy? Should the university be willing to return gifts made before the scandal? Does your institution have a policy on whether donations will ever be returned?