St. Olaf says no more money for other non-profits

Courtesy of Photo: David Anderson, President of Saint Olaf College, poses with his family in a photograph posted on the college's Web site.

Saint Olaf College administrators have decided to stop donating the institution’s money to Northfield non-profits.

“It’s ethically troubling in hard economic times, with rising costs of higher education, to take tuition money and capriciously gift that to other non-profits,” Steve Blodgett, Director of Marketing and Communications, said on Thursday

David Anderson, college president, met with the city’s non-profit administrators on Wednesday for what Blodgett called a “coffee discussion.” During that discussion, Blodgett said Anderson explained the reasoning behind the decision. Anderson did not comment on the matter on Thursday and he has not issued any formal statement about the decision.

“Saint Olaf will continue as well its other contributions to the community,” Blodgett said.

Those contributions, he added, “dwarf the handful of cash donations to the relatively few non-profits affected by the decision

Ann Etter, interim Executive Director of the Northfield Arts Guild said Thursday she was not ready to talk about Saint Olaf’s decision. Daniel Freeman, also of the guild, said he did not feel happy following the discussion.

“I was disappointed with the president’s answer of ‘no further funding for local non-profits,'” Freeman said. “It is an understandable stance, however, and we all recognized that. We now look forward to working with the college to find new ways of capitalizing on the students and faculty and staff in creating awareness of all of our needs.”

Freeman said perhaps now individuals will contribute directly, by donating money or time.

Northfield Downtown Development Corporation and the Laura Baker Services Association were two more non-profits in attendance, among others.

The mission statement of the Laura Baker Association is to “respect the life choices and dreams of people with developmental disabilities and help them reach their goals.” The Downtown Development Corp. works to “sustain a vibrant downtown,” in part through “collaboration and cooperation with other public and private groups.”

Blodgett said the groups may deserve funding, but Anderson, “in thinking about the issue,” determined Saint Olaf should not be a donor.

“The decision reflects a philosophical or ethical point of principle,” Blodgett said. “Students pay tuition and alumni give to Saint Olaf for the express purpose of supporting the core educational mission of the college. Providing cash donations to a variety of other groups from college funds does not, in President Anderson’s view, fit with that intent.”

Blodgett said non-profits usually received $75 to a few hundred dollars here and there from varying college departments. As a comparison, Blodgett listed the college’s other contributions to the city that remain.

“Along with Carleton College, Saint Olaf will continue with its annual contribution to city in lieu of taxes, a unique tradition that dates back eight decades,” Blodgett said.

Last year, each college paid $73,000. To put that number into some perspective, Boston University paid its municipality about $4 million, Harvard University, about $2 million, Boston College, about $260,000, Northeastern University, about $140,000 and Wentworth Institute (which has about 3,600 students) about $35,000, according to estimates listed in a 2006 Boston Globe article.

Blodgett went on to say that Saint Olaf gives more than just cash.

“Saint Olaf, for example, waives tuition for Northfield High School students who take classes at the college, which annually comes to an in-kind contribution to the community of $100,000,” he said. “Moreover, over half of Saint Olaf’s student body is involved in some type of volunteerism, with an estimated 10,000 hours of community service provided each year. Some of those students volunteer with the non-profits involved.”

Blodgett added Saint Olaf is one of the city’s largest employers. “Saint Olaf pays over $16 million a year to the State of Minnesota in payroll taxes, income that is used, in part, to provide services that we here in Northfield also enjoy,” he said. “Although like all private, non-profit colleges, churches or other schools, Saint Olaf is exempt from state and local property taxes, the college pays over $800,000 a year for municipal services such as sewer, water and waste removal, whether provided by the city or privately contracted.”

Lastly, Blodgett said, “Saint Olaf is a major customer, one that helps sustain a healthy community. Approximately 3,000 Saint Olaf students call Northfield home from September to June. As consumers, they literally pump tens of thousands of dollars into the local economy. Their parents stay in our local hotels, eat in our local restaurants and so forth.”

Update 10/03

From a Minnesota Public Radio report written in June: “Rice County Judge Gerald Wolf has lifted some, but not all, of the restrictions on donations given originally to fund St. Olaf College’s radio station WCAL, which the college sold to Minnesota Public Radio in 2004.

The sale angered some donors, who objected to the college using money donated for the radio station.”

When asked if that ruling influenced the college’s decision about non-profit funding Blodgett replied:
“Very simply, No. The two subjects are many, many miles apart and one has absolutely nothing to do with the other.

The non-profit decision by the president was not about finances. The sums involved are very, very minimal and St. Olaf is not in any budget cutting mode. It was specifically about principle; about writing out a check to other non-profits from money given to the college.

An analogy here is as if the Laura Baker Services Association were to ask their donors for money to sustain their operations and then turned around and wrote a check to the St. Olaf annual fund after seeking that support.”

Update 10/03 1 p.m.

Comment from Joe Hargis, director of  public relations at Carleton College: “We don’t have a real black-and-white policy,” Hargis said of the college’s stance on donating to the city’s non-profits. “As Saint Olaf does, our college needs to be very prudent and sensitive any time it considers passing along funds for other non-profits. We’re not able to accommodate all requests, but we try to judge such requests based on a couple of things: Is this something that really benefits our faculty, staff and students? And, is it something most or all of the community can enjoy? For us, if there’s a strong college connection, we can consider that as well.


  1. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. The point that they have a duty to their students to be careful with how their money is spent is convincing. Convincing, but not necessarily right.

    First off, I’d be curious to know how much of their budget actually comes from tuition fees. I guess I don’t weep for alumni donations and endowment yields going into the community (nor do most people, which is why I suspect that the St. Olaf administrator quoted in the article didn’t mention those sources of funding).

    Second, doesn’t St. Olaf benefit from the nonprofits it donates to? Yes, both colleges contribute to the community themselves — I myself had the privilege of the program mentioned in the article allowing high school students to take a class there — but I think they benefit from being located in a culturally rich community. That cultural richness costs money.

    But here’s my biggest concern: couldn’t these statements be used by the for-profits in town? If Malt-O-Meal discovers that it could make its cereal a few cents cheaper by cutting donations to Northfield causes, would be “ethically troubling” to continue to give to the community when their customers are pinching pennies as it is?

    Ultimately, I’m not happy about this decision, but I accept that it may have been necessary to meet the demands of their budget. I just wish that they wouldn’t have called it a “philosophical or ethical point of principle.” They should have been more upfront with (what I believe to be) their real reason: money.

    October 2, 2008
  2. Coming from a neighborhood university environment, the two colleges in town are the very reason we chose Northfield as a home town. Us and people like us certainly pump dollars into the local economy and that fact is a direct result of the proximity to St. Olaf and Carleton. We had a lot of other choices.

    I think that St. Olaf College does a lot for the community offering arts to the community, most often free, and the many other programs and events that are open to the public. Carleton, too.

    St. Olaf just built an incredible science center and the societal benefits of that should be coming forthcoming before too very long. Let’s not impose upon them. We should be able to find sufficient support for any worthwhile non-profit.

    October 3, 2008
  3. ArtOrg has enjoyed a great relationship with St. Olaf, and gets funding for specific projects that quite directly benefit students. For example, just in the last year we facilitated the return of Jasper John’s printer, John Lund, and set up small presentations at both St. Olaf and Carleton. We also brought Society of Ilustrators Hall-of-Famer Mark English to St. Olaf for the kick-off lecture to our big Illo. Minn. show. We actually do quite a bit of stuff now, but it is based on a foundation of performance and results.

    This link
    shows a photo from John at St. Olaf.

    This link
    shows the Illo. Minn. opening.

    This link
    shows big 350-attendance The Bad Plus concert at Carleton. This was not sponsored by the colleges at all, we rented the space outright!

    We approach both colleges in direct ways that will benefit their students and other stakeholders. Many of our events are designed to attract people from out of town, and that helps eveyone.

    October 3, 2008
  4. Bright,
    Since you also mention benefits to the community, I’d like to hear your thoughts on my concern — that St. Olaf receives from as well as gives to the community. If St. Olaf (or Carleton) were located in a community with, say, no organizations like ArtOrg to collaborate with, it would be a lesser college.

    It would be harder for them to get professors who want to live in the town (an issue which I think they already face to some degree), and it would obviously be impossible to have student collaboration with nonprofits if those nonprofits don’t exist.

    Both colleges contribute to the community with the resources they provide — and they should be appreciated for that. But the colleges also benefit from the nonprofits, and they should help pay for them. If they can’t afford to do it, that’s fine: I just want to hear that clear-cut truth.

    October 3, 2008
  5. kiffi summa said:

    Sean : Once again the youth illuminate the “adult” discussion.

    There is no question that Northfield would not be the town it is without the colleges.

    There is also no question that the amount of money the colleges “donate” to the town each year does not cover the costs of their coverage by city services… or does it? Is it true that the only buildings that require the capacity/height of the new fire truck ($750,000)are the St. Olaf high rise dorms? Why is there not an accurate accounting of this so that it does not continue to be a town/gown issue ?

    I love the colleges. I would not be living here if it were not for the colleges. On the other hand, I expect a college like St. Olaf, with their extraordinary commitment to sustainable, honest … and yes, “old fashioned”… core values to be what Sean has termed a little more “up-front” with their reasoning on this issue.

    How much do they contribute to what non-profits in town and how does that compare with their overall charitable giving?

    Is this action worth reactivating all the old town/gown negativity?

    Is this “savings” worth the negative PR it will bring?

    October 3, 2008
  6. Bonnie Obremski said:

    Interesting discussion points guys, especially last sentence of Sean’s latest post, “If they can’t afford to do it, that’s fine: I just want to hear that clear-cut truth.”

    Just a note to say I put two updates on the story so far. See them at the bottom of the article. Thanks!

    October 3, 2008
  7. Jane Moline said:

    Bravo, St. Olaf. When I give my hard earned money to a college, it is not with the idea that they are passing it out to other non-profits–I intend my gift to go to the mission of the non-profit. I think St. Olaf is being very wise. Unfortunately it doesn’t come off sounding so great–and it should have gone without saying. It seems strange that we would expect a not-for-profit to give away its donations to other not-for-profits.

    So Sean, I completely disagree on your idea–you man not feel bad for the alumni who donate–you think St. Olaf should pass that on to the community–but if those that donate think that St Olaf is just passing it out to other charities, they will stop giving to St Olaf and just give to another charity of their choice–it is reallly not up to St Olaf to give away money that was given to them.

    I also think they should try paying their staff a living wage so that they are more able to donate and support non profits. For some reason we have abdicated our personal responsiblity in supporting charitable organizations to our employers or other “non-person” entities. It is time for people–not corporations or colleges–to support charities, including churches, food shelf, and other worthy organizations.

    St. Olaf should continue, of course, its “in kind” programs, including joint programs with the Historical Society, the NDDC and other organizations–(the publc schools, etc.) either as opportunities for student programs or for student volunteering. This furthers their mission in education and makes them a full participant in the community. Expecting cash hand outs is too much. I know St Olaf profs have served on different boards and committees in Northfield, including on the Historical Society–and that is a contribution to the community as well.

    I know that their cash contributions have been minimal, but if it allows them to not raise tuition or to give their staff a small raise, I think we will benefit more as a community from those adjustmetns. (If it goes to give a raise to the President, I am dead set against it. Sorry David.)

    Anyway, I find it ethically troubling that we rely on for profit corporations like Malt O Meal to support our charities–again, you have employees that think they don’t need to give donations since MOM does it for them. At the same time, I see the benefits to MOM employees of having a vibrant Historical Society or public school system–places MOM has contributed.

    I think when you expect a “non-person entity” like MOM or St Olaf to act like a person–with compassion and generosity–you are projecting the human condition onto something that is not human.

    Instead, eliminate the corporate income tax so quesions of compensation and contributions have no tax element–and let them make money like crazy so they can pay their employees more so their employees can make donations.

    October 3, 2008
  8. Jane, I think we have a really fundamental difference of opinion on this, so I won’t respond to your whole post, but I want to grab one piece:

    When I give my hard earned money to a college, it is not with the idea that they are passing it out to other non-profits–I intend my gift to go to the mission of the non-profit.

    I don’t like the idea — presented both in the article and in your comment — that people who give money (via tuition or donation) have a claim to see how that money ought to be spent. Now if you’re explicitly donating money to, say, a science building, you have a reasonable expectation that it be spent on the science building. If you’re just donating to the college, though, I don’t think you should be able to reasonably expect that that money stay within the college.

    (Incidentally, Carleton and St. Olaf presidents’ salaries are the first- and third-highest in the state, respectively. I don’t think donors have a right to demand their money not be spent on that, either, but I think if you’re going to attack something, this seems like at least as attack-worthy as community donations.)

    October 3, 2008
  9. john george said:

    Jane- Great comment, this, “…It is time for people–not corporations or colleges–to support charities, including churches, food shelf, and other worthy organizations…” It is too easy, I believe, to just go along thinking someone else will take up the cause. Here’s a scripture in I John 3:17 I think you would like, “…But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

    I think Sean has a very good point, though. When we give to any organization, be it church, college, food shelf, or whatever, I don’t think we have a right to tell them they can’t do thus and so with our money unless it is specifically designated for a specific need. Just my opinion, there, but I agree with his point.

    October 3, 2008
  10. With regards to the principle of non-profits giving to other non-profits, I would disagree. In many cases, it makes good business sense, enhances both parties, and brings visibility to our own projects and events.

    For example, ArtOrg has donated to the Laura Baker auction in the past, and the donated “Governors Ball” print raised $2000 for that group. The deal that we struck with the Sesquicentennial Committee resulted in another two prints being sold for $4600, and that money went to fund other things (Ray Jacobson’s sculpture or perhaps Fifth Bridge, I think). Still last Friday night a “Twenty Views of Dundas” print suite raised $2400 for the Friends of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts–at their huge “Art Perchance” fundraiser.

    We have also donated the special set of the “Twenty Views” and the special print of the “Governors Ball” marked “Museum Proof” to the Dundas and Northfield Historical Society respectively.

    We are a bit different perhaps than the discussion going on here. If its a good idea and makes sense, we will do it–even if it means donating to another non-profit! 🙂

    October 3, 2008
  11. Sean, I don’t think it would be all that much of a lesser college. Big organizations like these two colleges have a lot going on, that is to say they are very self contained and don’t really need to rely on the host town to provide much more than the basic food and clothing.

    Besides the student’s studying and participating in sports and hikes around the campus and socializing amongst themselves, there is very little time really.

    Collegians and all can always go into the cities for big concerts and plays, museums,etc. I am not saying Northfield offerings aren’t valuable, I am just saying they are not all That crucial to a good and beneficial college life.

    When we make donations to any organization, we should know ahead of time how their funds are allocated, and decide whether or not we wish to
    promote the same in kind. If not, move on, there is some organization that will gladly take your money and do things you like with it.

    October 3, 2008
  12. I have a fundamental question: Does not St. Olaf benefit from Northfield being a strong community?

    As Northfield goes, so goes the fate of its colleges to a certain degree.

    President Anderson, at his meeting with non-profit leaders, of whom my wife is one, commented that non-profits do not give to other non-profits. This is completely untrue, and a pretty tough sell in a group of non-profit leaders.

    He also stated that St. Olaf got one request a week from non-profits. This is an insurmountable challenge for a college that netted 42.5 million dollars in FY 2006? That’s net income – income after expenses – not gross income. I get one request a DAY for money from local and national non-profits; I’m not netting anywhere near that much cash, I can assure you.

    The organization to which I dedicate the lion’s share of my time and resources – the Northfield Arts Guild – of whom my wife is the interim executive director, asks St. Olaf for $1350 to sponsor a show. Let’s assume that this is the request one week matched by similar requests the other 51 weeks, and let’s round it up even higher, and say that they get requests for $100,000 a year. They don’t even have to grant all of those requests, but let’s say they do. That’s less than one-quarter of one percent of net income.

    What does this piddling outlay buy St. Olaf in community spirit and goodwill? Probably way more than $100,000, if such a thing were to be measured.

    I’m interested if alumni, especially alumni that live in Northfield and surrounding communities, will lessen their donations if they catch wind of this, and the wind they catch smells foul to them.

    If the amount of money is not the issue, why are they so “ethically troubled”? How much money will they spend on advertising and PR spin to counter the negative effects of looking like a poor neighbor? How much money to massage away their troubled ethics? Not a good idea when they are still fighting off the negative publicity from the WCAL sale.

    As an individual, I give money and a lot of time to non-profits. I expect employers, especially the largest employer in town to chose to do the same.

    They have a duty to educate and serve their students, first and foremost, but I find it troubling that this duty obliterates any sense of responsibility to the community that provides their fundamental base of support. Most other organizations seem able to keep both in view at the same time.

    Would we like it if for-profit companies claimed their duty was only to their shareholders and employees and not to the community in which they are based? Probably not, and most companies give a lot to those communities for good PR, good business sense, and the principle of reciprocity.

    As for the $100,000 they give for Northfield high school students to take classes there, I believe that this is a state law dating back 20 years. Those classes would run whether the high school students were added to them or not. The increase in Olaf’s expenses, I believe, would be marginal, and considering those high school students are probably also buying textbooks for the course and food at Olaf (from time to time), they are probably not putting out even that much. These are sunk costs, to a very large extent.

    I’m also curious if this was a decision made only by President Anderson. Were the Regents involved? What about alumni? What about faculty and staff? What about students? Do any of those constituencies even know about it? More importantly, did they know it was coming?

    As a “College of the Church” does St. Olaf officially no longer recognize a central truth of most major religions: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”?

    I fully – let me stress this, FULLY – understand that St. Olaf is not mandated to give money to the community and its organizations. They can do with their money what they will, but it doesn’t mean they are doing the right thing. There is a world of difference between “can” and “should”.

    It gives me pleasure to know that my alma mater still gives generously to Northfield organizations. I sincerely hope they always recognize the overwhelming merits of doing so.

    October 3, 2008
  13. Jane Moline said:

    Sean and David: I absolutely believe that if you give your donation to a charitable organization–whether a school or an arts group or a food shelf–you should have a reasonable expectation of knowing what they are doing with your gift.

    ArtOrg is giving as part of their mission. The examples you sited, David, are important to what ArtOrg does.

    St. Olaf’s tax-exempt, not-for-profit purpose is to educate the students. I don’t see how giving to local charities educates the students.

    Sean–if you look at the levels of charity under Buddha–you will find the highest level is when both the donor and donee know nothing of each other–like I would give money away and not worry or care where it went, and the charity receiving would not know where it came from. This is a philosophical mind-set that we would strive to achieve as we become better people.

    However, if you talk to anyone in “development” (getting people to give them money for charitable purposes) they will tell you that it is very important to most donor’s that they feel they are directing where their money will go–and where it will not go. So charitable organizations, including St. Olaf, are careful to explain the schools uses of donors funds. Very few people do not care–so St. Olaf must be cognizant of these issues when they ask for donations.

    I think St. Olaf is doing the right thing. I agree that St. Olaf benefits from a vibrant Northfield, both as a residence for employees and a future home for graduates. Plus, St. Olaf students and professors can participate in learning in a vibrant city. St. Olaf may be self-contained for the most part–but they need and want us as much as we need and want them.

    October 3, 2008
  14. Sarah Hale said:

    As a St. Olaf alum living in Northfield, I am disappointed to hear of this decision. I give to the annual fund drive, and I love seeing St. Olaf’s name as a sponsor of community activities. I see it as a part of the college’s motto — Ideals to Action — in action, in our community. I also see the college’s giving as a valuable learning tool for its students — we support the community in which we live.

    A point of correction though: the colleges (in Northfield) are not mandated by law to allow high school students to take classes at their institutions. Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) is a state-funded program that most (if not all) public colleges and universities and 14 Minnesota private colleges participate in. St. Olaf and Carleton both do not, but instead offer an Honors Program for qualified NHS and ARTech seniors to take one class per term at the schools to no cost to the student nor to NHS and ARTech.

    One more note of interest: The Princeton Review ranks St. Olaf as #8 in the country for “Town/Gown Relations are Great.” Carleton is not ranked.

    October 4, 2008
  15. Thank you, Sarah Hale, for the correction of the PSEO and St. Olaf and Carleton’s roles in it.

    As a Carleton alum, I also feel pride when I see its name listed as a sponsor of a local event or program. I think many alumni give to their schools with the expectation that the money will be used for students AND to help maintain and increase the value of their alma mater in the eyes of larger communities – locally, nationally and internationally.

    Call it enlightened self-interest: when my school’s reputation increases in a positive direction; so does the perceived value of me being an alum. (Not the purest motive for giving, but a powerful motive nonetheless.)

    Obviously, improving education on campus goes a long way toward that goal, but so does increasing the quality of their students’ experiences in the surrounding community. This is to say nothing of the benefits which accrue and rebound to the institution through the wider opportunities afforded to faculty and staff in a vibrant community.

    Like Kiffi, I love what the colleges do for Northfield, all the tangible and intangible benefits. They have been integral to Northfield’s history. They should continue to be so for Northfield’s future.

    I feel St. Olaf – although probably only St. Olaf’s current president, for I do not have the impression that much of the College’s student body, faculty, staff or Board of Regents has been involved in or even knew of this decision – has taken a step entirely in the wrong direction.

    It is only President David Anderson’s specious reasoning on this topic and apparent disconnect he’s willingly creating between town and gown that I find “ethically troubling.”

    I think those great philosophers, The Beastie Boys, said it best: “What goes around / comes around // what comes around / goes around.”

    October 5, 2008
  16. kiffi summa said:

    Some years ago, a tragic auto accident occurred, resulting in the death of five St. Olaf students at once.

    Many people in town were very saddened by this, and searched for a way to visibly express their distress. Victor came up with a great visual idea, involving all of St. Olaf Avenue where we live.

    There are about 90 boulevard trees on St. Olaf avenue, some very large. We purchased hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of yards of black and gold ribbon after counting and measuring all the trees. It was expensive but a local merchant gave us a discount because it was for the lost students. The kids from the Key worked with us all day to tie the school color ribbons on EVERY boulevard tree from Hwy. 3 to the college entrance. As we worked, people came out of their houses and insisted on giving ten and twenty dollar bills to share in the project.

    Every tree was encircled, tied with a bow, and had long streamers of the school colors fluttering in the wind.

    A day or two later, the students’ families and others driving up St. Olaf avenue to the college for the memorial service were greeted with a visible expression of sympathy from the residents of St. Olaf Avenue, and the Key kids who had given up their Saturday to help.

    This happened because St. Olaf is part of “us”, and we are part of “them”.

    October 6, 2008
  17. Bonnie Obremski said:

    I spoke with Dave Legvold, educator, “sustainable” corn and soy farmer and soon-to-be former executive director of the Watershed Partnership. He pointed out that sometimes people in Northfield give significant amounts of valuable time and resources to St. Olaf without expecting compensation.

    October 6, 2008
  18. A.RIpka said:

    hm. i don’t see why they can’t limit their donations to a certain allowance per year rather than stop donating entirely. (or did i miss something?) a little bit is better than nothing at all. and if you are giving annually to a school, one would think you are giving because you trust those funds to go towards making the school a better place – directly or indirectly. brandon said it right on (#15) and i agree. how can giving to the the community it resides in not help??
    over stolaf’s homecoming weekend i was able to have several conversations with the parents of current students. for many, the community of northfield itself played a large part in their decision to enroll. i would like to know what the parents of current students think about this decision. that would interesting.
    honestly, their decision doesn’t surprise me. i’m an alum, i have a local business, and the most support i’ve gotten was a short article when i first opened. don’t get me wrong, i’m grateful because it was more PR than the newspaper, but it would be nice to have them order their art supplies from me and to feel that support. in my 10 months back in this city, carleton has been more receptive and eager to establish a reciprocal relationship than my former alma mater. gotta give props where props are due.

    October 7, 2008
  19. Ruth Sylte said:

    St. Olaf’s denials about a WCAL link to this decision just don’t stand up to the facts and timing — and, in fact, these make the conjecture more plausible.

    You see, charitable trusts and nonprofits are supposed to use the funds they solicit only for the purposes for which they are solicited. That is exactly the point of SaveWCAL’s efforts.

    St. Olaf College solicited funds for the WCAL trust for decades to run a public radio station — a public trust. In 2004, they destroyed that trust so that they could “write a check” from the WCAL Trust fund to St. Olaf College and use the funds for purposes of their own choosing, unrelated to the Trust. St. Olaf’s intent to do this is clearly indicated in the Original Petition that St. Olaf College filed with the court in December 2006. And it’s against state law.

    And note the timing of St. Olaf’s decision and announcement re local non-profits. It occurs just one week after SaveWCAL filed a Petition To Redress Breach Of Trust in Rice County District Court on September 24.

    The Petition directly asks the court to void the sale because it was against state law, determine the full value of the trust (incuding pre-sale assets and/or value of those assets, which could raise the trust value to perhaps around $15-20 million or more) — and remove St. Olaf College as the trustee of the WCAL trust.

    Also note that October 1 was the date that St. Olaf College President David Anderson ’74 sent a personal email to a SaveWCAL board member (and fellow alumnus) declaring that it will deny any requests for tickets to the renowned St. Olaf Christmas Festival from certain SaveWCAL supporters.

    Apparently, some people are not happy with SaveWCAL — but the College administration and Board of Regents have no one to blame but themselves, In his June 10, 2008 Order, Rice County District Court Judge Gerald Wolf wrote:

    “The only watchdog looking out for the interests of the trust in this case was the Respondent, the non-profit organization SaveWCAL. SaveWCAL raised the alarm when they first learned of the sale of WCAL by St. Olaf, but neither St. Olaf nor the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office paid any heed to SaveWCAL’s warning.”

    So Blodgett’s comment that “The two subjects are many, many miles apart and one has absolutely nothing to do with the other” rings hollow to those of us at SaveWCAL — and to others as well.

    You can read more about this and read some of the comments SaveWCAL readers made on this topic (including one on how another institution handles the issues of donations to local charities) on the SaveWCAL blog at:

    SaveWCAL also sincerely hopes that members of the St. Olaf and Northfield communities will be able to meet the needs of the local nonprofits in the same way that WCAL donors generously did for WCAL for more than 80 years. Donor support matters!

    October 14, 2008
  20. Griff Wigley said:

    Is St. Olaf being a Grinch for denying SaveWCAL folks tix to the Xmas concert?

    David Anderson, president of the Northfield college, drew ire from a group that has fought St. Olaf over the sale of the school’s former radio station, WCAL, when he said that board members, including half a dozen St. Olaf graduates, could not have tickets to the college’s popular Christmas festival.

    October 16, 2008
  21. Tickets to the Christmas concerts are online affairs now, for the most part (a few call-ins allowed for those who are sans computers), so is there a Big Brother online looking out for banned names? I do not understand how tickets can be denied. They are hard to come by online anyway. They were “sold out” (meaning $5 handling fee) already at the two alum appointed online hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Oct. 1st. I finally got a couple at the 7 p.m. check-in time online.
    At any rate, this is not good publicity for my alma mater.

    October 16, 2008

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