Small College Won't Change Name to Honor Billionaire's Wife

Former Citigroup CEO had promised $20 million for the naming rights
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2015 3:14 PM CDT
Small College Won't Change Name to Honor Billionaire's Wife
Sanford Weill agreed to donate $20 million to Paul Smith's College if it renamed itself in honor of his wife.   (AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh)

A billionaire has decided not to donate $20 million to a New York college after a judge ruled it couldn't legally change its name in honor of the billionaire's wife, the New York Times reports. According to NBC News, Paul Smith's College announced over the summer it was planning to change its name to Joan Weill-Paul Smith's College in exchange for the donation —which it said was necessary to keep up operations—from former Citigroup CEO Sanford Weill. But alumni were incensed, and a judge ruled earlier this month the college couldn't change its name due to stipulations in the will of its founder, who established the college on the condition it would always be named after his father. On Thursday, Paul Smith's College stated it wouldn't appeal that ruling.

Joan Weill has been involved with the college, which she and her husband live near, for decades, the Times reports. In fact, the couple has already donated $10 million to the college and raised nearly $30 million from other donors. “The Weills are really wonderful people, and I know they’re disappointed," the college's president tells the Times. A lawyer for Paul Smith's College alumni doesn't see it that way. He tells NBC its a shame the couple wouldn't give the money anyway in exchange for naming something else on campus. But there is some good news for Paul Smith's College. Apparently donations have been coming in since the renaming story broke, and an anonymous family has agreed to match all donations up to $5 million. (More college stories.)

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