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April 04, 2003

Fire Prof or Lose Funds, Some Alum Donors Say

The Columbia[University] Daily ran this item
Some alumni donors are pressuring the president's office and the Office of Development and Alumni Relations to fire Professor Nicholas De Genova for statements he made in last week's anti-war teach-in.
In the past few days, donors have barraged the offices with emails and phone calls, informing the University that they feel that De Genova overstepped the limits of academic free speech.

In mass-mailed email messages circulated among each other, alumni have urged each other to issue an ultimatum to the University: Fire De Genova or lose our donations.

"We've gotten a lot of calls," said Thomas Gray, who is in charge of alumni giving in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations. "The people who have called have been very upset. They're proud of their college heritage, and they're very unhappy that this occurred."

CC alumnus Steve Stuart wrote an email a few days ago to over 100 alumni--whose combined "net worth," he said, is at least $250 million--asking them to express outrage to University President Lee Bollinger.

"Until he is fired, the University will suffer," Stuart said. Many of those alumni responded to Stuart's request with letters sent directly to Bollinger. Like Stuart's, nearly all of the emails issued warnings regarding the alumni's continued financial support of the University.

Frank Cicero, CC '92 and Senior Vice President of Investment Banking at Lehman Brothers, told Bollinger that he felt De Genova's presence on campus "pollutes the educational atmosphere."

That "pollution" may compel Cicero to stop contributing to the University.

"In the past, I believed that it was naive and in bad taste for alumni to withhold gifts because of the political opinions of faculty members," Cicero said in his email to Bollinger. "However, I am now considering doing just that in response to the vile and mendacious comments made by De Genova."[more]