Sanford I. Weill, a Wall Street billionaire, and his wife, Joan, have decided not to donate $20 million to a struggling northern New York college after a judge ruled that it could not be renamed for Mrs. Weill, college officials said on Thursday.
The donation had been offered on the condition that Paul Smith’s College change its name to Joan Weill-Paul Smith’s College. Mrs. Weill has been actively involved with the college’s development for more than two decades and served on the board of trustees.
But a state judge this month refused to allow the college to break the terms of its founder’s will, which required that the college be named Paul Smith’s in perpetuity, to accept the donation.
“It was a naming gift, so without the court allowing us to go forward there was no money,” Bob Bennett, Paul Smith’s spokesman, said. “That was the deal, right from the beginning.”
The Weills have donated $10 million to the college and raised nearly $30 million from other donors, according to court filings. That money was used in part to build a new library and a student center, both of which are named for Mrs. Weill.
“The Weills are really wonderful people, and I know they’re disappointed. I’m disappointed,” the college’s president, Cathy S. Dove, said. “Honestly, in every conversation I’ve had with them they’ve continued to say we care about the students, and I don’t think that will ever change.”
Asked whether the Weills offered their gift without a naming condition after the judge’s ruling, Dr. Dove said, “When the court turned down our petition, that agreement was no longer valid.”