Trenton, NJ, Oct. 25, 2007 — New Jersey Superior Court Judge Neil H. Shuster cleared the way today for the trial of Princeton University on charges that it improperly spent more than $200 million from a charitable foundation intended to prepare Princeton students for federal government careers in foreign policy and international affairs.
One of the largest and most important “donor intent” cases in U.S. legal history, Robertson v. Princeton is expected to go to trial next year. The plaintiffs have asked the court to remove Princeton from any connection to the Robertson Foundation and its approximately $880 million endowment. They also have asked the court to order Princeton to return to the Robertson Foundation more than $200 million in foundation funds the university improperly diverted to its general fund and to departments unconnected to the Robertson Foundation program. In addition, the plaintiffs are seeking to recapture the investment return the university earned on the wrongfully diverted funds – damages estimated at $300 million to $400 million.
In a series of seven pre-trial rulings, totaling 355 pages, Judge Shuster sided with the Robertson family – the plaintiffs – on most key issues, including the two most important issues the court was asked to decide prior to trial: whether Princeton University was the intended beneficiary of the 1961 gift to the Robertson Foundation, and whether the university has a fiduciary duty to use the money only for its intended purpose.