This morning I Tweeted . . .
Terrific. UConn paid Hillary Clinton $251K to speak in April. Also just raised tuition 6.5%. http://t.co/UAeR9B9FJ2— jimgeraghty (@jimgeraghty) July 3, 2014
University of Connecticut deputy spokesman Tom Breen Tweeted back and wrote in, insisting that it’s inaccurate to say the university paid to bring Hillary Clinton to campus; instead a donor fund specified for guest speakers, the Edmund Fusco Speaker Series, paid the fee.
The university insists that these particular funds are not fungible. Kevin Edwards, the university’s vice president of finance, explained in a letter to the university’s communications office,
the donations supporting the speaker series are restricted to be used for the Speaker Series as defined by the donors in making their donation. Utilizing these contributions for any other purpose would be a breach of donor intent.
The speaker series is administered by the UConn Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization “separate and distinct from the university, but existing solely to support the university.” So the donation that helped fund Hillary Clinton’s speech at the university was tax-deductible.
According to the University’s web site,
The program is sponsored by the Fusco family of New Haven, who created the contemporary issues forum at UConn through a philanthropic gift to celebrate their family’s 90th year in business, as well as the 90th birthday of Edmund Fusco.
Hillary Clinton was the second speaker brought to the campus under the Fusco Speaker Series program. The previous one was historian Doris Kearns Goodwin in October 2012. According to Washington Speakers Bureau, Goodwin is a “category 6″ speaker, meaning a fee of $40,001 and up.
It’s a free country, and the Fusco family is free to specify how their donation is to be used, any way they like. Some may wonder whether using $250,000 to bring in a speaker for one hour of remarks and a question-and-answer session afterwards is really the best or most cost-effective way to help the university in the long run.
At the close of fiscal year 2013, the University of Connecticut’s endowment was valued at approximately $357.6 million. In 2013, tuition, room and board at the university cost $23,496 for in-state students, $42,444 for out-of-state students.