"UNH stands firm as critics question scoreboard plan" by Andy Rosen Globe Staff September 16, 2016
The University of New Hampshire on Friday defended its decision to buy a new football scoreboard with a portion of a bequest from a longtime librarian, a purchase that had met with objections that the money should go toward academic pursuits.
Robert Morin, who died at 77 after nearly 50 years with the school, left $4 million to UNH. The money represented his entire estate and surprised many, given the modest life Morin had led.
See: Longtime UNH librarian leaves $4 million to school
UNH is using part of the gift to buy a $1 million video scoreboard for Wildcat Stadium. Some alumni and faculty had said the school had other pressing needs that might better represent the legacy of a man who devoted his life to the library.
On Friday, UNH spokeswoman Erika Mantz said the university has heard the disagreement but intends to proceed as planned at the Durham campus.
“We respect and acknowledge that feedback, but it does not change our decision,” she said in a statement, adding that Morin deliberately had given the money to UNH with few restrictions.
While Robert Morin was known to live simply, he quietly amassed the fortune that was left to UNH following his death.
“Despite being asked many times over many years by his financial adviser, it was Mr. Morin’s firm decision to designate only a small portion of his estate to the library and to leave the rest unrestricted for the university to use as it saw fit,” Mantz added.
The university’s Dimond Library will get $100,000, the only gift specified by the will. Another $2.5 million will help expand the university’s career center, a use that Mantz said will “directly support students.”
The UNH Faculty Senate discussed the issue of the scoreboard at its Monday meeting, according to chairman Dante Scala, associate professor of political science. The body hasn’t taken any action, he said, but a few speakers shared concerns with the university administration.
“They wanted to know what the rationale was for why that portion of the gift was being spent the way it was,” Scala said by phone Friday. “There was also frustration that the money was being spent without consultation with the faculty.”
Scala noted that the university had long made clear its desire to improve the stadium, but he said the library can always use resources to build and maintain its collection. “I’m sure my colleagues could come up with a dozen different priorities, but one thing they could do is plow some more money back into the library,” he said.
The scoreboard decision rankled Claire Cortese, a recent graduate who wrote of her objections online. She said the stadium had only recently been given a massive overhaul, observing that Morin’s own department received just a tenth of the amount given to the sports department.
“I just think people go to school to learn and to be educated, and that’s what he spent his life dedicated to,” she said.