Thursday, October 22, 2015

Paul Smith’s Will Not Appeal Denial Of Name Change

Paul Smiths CollegePaul Smith’s College have sent a statement to the press saying they will not appeal a ruling by the New York State Supreme Court denying their request to rename the college to include the name of a wealthy donor.

“Despite our continued confidence in the merits of that proposal, we believe that an appeal would ultimately be counterproductive for students, alumni, faculty and staff,” Philip E. Saunders, chairman of the Paul Smith’s College Board of Trustees said in a statement sent to the press Thursday.

The press statement said that Joan Weill and her husband, former Citibank chair and CEO Sandy Weill, will not be going through with a gift of $20 million to the college, which was contingent on having the college named in Joan Weill’s honor.

The college has previously said that the Weills have given Paul Smith’s nearly $10 million over the last 20 years and have helped the college raise almost $30 million from other donors. They continue to seek funding from other sources.


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20 Responses

  1. Bellota says:

    So the Weills are taking their toys and going home because they couldn’t change the name of Paul Smith’s College to Joan Weill-Paul Smith’s College. She thought she was rebranding an arena or sports facility. What misguided egotism,

    • Paul says:

      I assume it was mis-guided egotism when the Smith family insisted on the name of the college in exchange for the starting funds and the land?

  2. Onno says:

    How sad that the Weills are withdrawing their donation, which will surely put the college in a very difficult position. Intending to purchase honor for her name and family, and to make the College better, she instead accomplished just the opposite on both scores.

  3. joe says:

    Of course Paul Smith was on something of an ego trip as well when he deemed the place had to carry his name forever. The critical comments toward Joan are way over the top.

    In any case, the alumni, like Scott Van Lear, got what they wanted. Now they have to actually support PSC financially. If alumni don’t, all they will have accomplished is ruining the place the say they love so much. Step up the donations and plan to do so forever because it will be a long long time before a benefactor like the Weil’s shows up – probably never. The college is clearly wounded by all this. Please turn your attention to caring for it. Without a lot of help and support from you, it won’t be around for long.

    • Randy says:

      Joe, I think you’re mistaken on Paul Smith’s ego. It was his son Phelps who started the college and stipulated that it be named for his dad, whose hotel was where the college was built. Appolo Smith did more for the area than the Weill’s and all their money ever will do. I’m not knocking wealthy benefactors who donate money and support to any number of institutions, but I am knocking the intent of Weills to make the college into some sort of bauble that Joan can wear around and show off to all her friends. The fact that they withdrew the funding IN TOTAL is a testimony to their outrageous egos. PSC will endure and if the Board of Trustees have any brains they’ll include this publicity as leverage for more alumni support, as well as making sure they include more alumni on the Board.

      • joe says:

        Right, ok. If I’d been in their shoes, I’d have made the same choice and would be unlikely to return to PSC, ever. The nasty personal attacks and tone of the whole thing would have turned me off, for sure. But that’s all over now.

        I hope you do save the College. It certainly needs and deserves all the support you can muster. In a year or two, the result will be clear. It’ll be a lot of work. Maybe that is the silver lining of this whole mess – an alumni that is engaged with the place, supporting it. Go for it, I say. I wish you all the luck in the world and hope you succeed beyond your wildest dreams. Take advantage of the emotions stirred up to turn it into dollars for the College. Get to work on this pronto, don’t wait, and turn this negative energy in positive energy that lasts for a long time. Now is the time to show you can do this.

    • Jason says:


      I have no dog in this fight but have been following the story. The way I see it, if somebody wanted to donate the money to be generous, than the name change shouldn’t have mattered. This proves that it was all about ego and the Weils should be ashamed, but these people have too much money to act like human beings.

  4. Boreas says:

    It seems it was always more of a business deal than a philanthropic venture. Essentially, the Weill’s planned to buy the name of another institution for a mere $20m. If one were to look at the new name (with Weill coming first), it would appear that they owned more than half of the institution. Very misleading, but a good buy for $20m.

  5. Hal Janailer says:

    I am glad it is going to remain plain old “Paul Smith’s College”. Sure Joan Weill has given ALOT to the college, but a huge donation to name it after herself?? WHAT !!?? Full of yourself much, Joan?? Who does she think she is??
    If the name change went thru, my daughters said that they would NOT attend there in a few years. I suspect it would have affected enrollment as well as increased transfers out of PSC and reduced transfers IN to PSC.

  6. M.P.Heller says:

    It’s good that the college has decided not to pursue any further litigation in this most distasteful matter. Now that they have come to this conclusion I hope they have the good sense to now also start building bridges with their alumni. There may be bad feelings on both sides at this particular point in time, but that must be overcome for the good of the institution into the future. I’m confident that the leaders within both groups will find a way to work together to make a bright future for Paul Smith’s College.

  7. Definitely good news for those who believe the rule of law applies to contract law too.

  8. Charlie S says:

    Joe says: “The college is clearly wounded by all this.”

    I’m sure they’ll fare well in the long run Joe. Apparently the Weil’s egos were more wounded than the college. Accumulated wealth makes some people funny… not necessarily in a humorous kinda way.

  9. Bob Meyer says:

    Joan, do the right thing and give the money without the perk. 🙂

  10. Bill Ott says:

    Ripped from the pages of Wikipedia:

    “In 2002, the Joan Weill Adirondack Library and Joan Weill Student Center were dedicated at Paul Smith’s College.”

    “In 2015, Joan Weill offered an additional $20 million to Paul Smith’s College, but only if it changed its name to Joan Weill-Paul Smith’s College.”

    I came back to this thread many times before thinking to check Wiki. Other institutions have benefited from the Weills and have named schools or buildings for them.

    And then in the same Wiki: In September 2013, Weill and his wife wrote an op-ed for CNBC stating that philanthropy goes beyond just money. “For us, philanthropy is much more than just writing a check. It’s donating your time, energy, experience, and intellect to the causes and organizations you are passionate about.”

    Draw your own conclusions..

    Bill Ott
    Bill Ott association for self promotion.

    • Paul says:

      As I understand it she has dedicated lots of both time and money to the college. This whole incident, and the publics mean spirited response, has probably driven the most wealthy family that owns a home in the Adirondacks out forever. This one that didn’t just lock itself behind a gate, but actually seemed to genuinely care for the area and its residents.

      • Boreas says:

        I guess we’ll see how much the Weills really care for the area. After a quick look into their past, I suspect they may have chosen the center of the ADKs for more than philanthropic reasons. The Adirondacks have long been a sanctuary for the gilded class for over a century.

        But ultimately it was the court that decided the issue, which I would like to assume is impartial. As far as the residents’ reaction, I think ADK residents have viewed Paul Smiths as ‘our little college’ since its inception. I feel the “mean-spirited” reaction is simply a reaction to the appearance of someone trying to put their name on part of our history. If anyone made an error in judgement in the matter, it was the PSC administrators for not realizing what the Paul Smiths name means to the ADK community, and what our reaction to the name change would be.

        It was an unfortunate episode for all involved, but hopefully we can put it behind us and perhaps give our attention to keeping the school afloat without changing the name.

  11. Bruce says:

    “For us, philanthropy is much more than just writing a check. It’s donating your time, energy, experience, and intellect to the causes and organizations you are passionate about.”

    How true. It makes one wonder why in this case they weren’t satisfied with donating their money, time, experience etc., without the catch. All of these things can add value to a Paul
    Smith’s education; renaming the college adds nothing. The Weill’s vanity can be assuaged by what the media and other people freely say about their generosity.

  12. Paul says:

    Did you ever notice how the “leaning pine” logo for the college is basically stealing Stanford’s logo by making the “tall tree” (Palo alto) lean a bit?

  13. Charlie S says:

    “Bill Ott
    Bill Ott association for self promotion.”

    I got a good laugh out of that one Bill. Humor is important! Thanks.

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