ASU responds to Charles' Foundation statements

ALBANY, Ga. — Albany State University officials have released a statement reiterating their position on a $3 million gift music icon Ray Charles gave the school following critical statements made by the Ray Charles Foundation in a newspaper story Sunday.

Valerie Ervin, president of the foundation, was quoted in a story in Sunday’s edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution criticizing ASU’s use of Charles’ $3 million gift, $1.2 million of which was returned by the university after the foundation enlisted the help of Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens to bolster its claims that the money was not spent as Charles had wished.

“Ray Charles, Joe Adams, who was Ray’s longtime manager, and I were clear and specific about how this gift was to be spent. It is incomprehensible that ASU failed to use the money in the manner Mr. Charles specified,” Ervin said Saturday evening during Morehouse College’s 25th annual “A Candle in the Dark” gala.

Ervin announced that the foundation would be giving an additional $3 million to the university to name an academic wing of Morehouse’s Fine Arts building after Charles’ mother, Aretha Robinson.

The statement triggered a response from Albany State University President Everette Freeman.

“The Ray Charles Foundation has offered a version of what happened to the gifts that Mr. Charles contributed to Albany State University in an article by Fran Jeffries in Sunday’s February 17th edition of the Atlanta Journal Constitution,” Freeman wrote. “However, facts that are pertinent to this matter were carefully reviewed by the University System of Georgia’s Office of Internal Audit and Compliance (OIAC). The OIAC’s report, dated December 4, 2012, meticulously accounts for how the funds were expended, and concluded that none of the $3 million contribution made in 2001 and 2002 to Albany State by Mr. Charles was inappropriately spent. ...

“According to the OIAC’s review, ‘the two checks totaling $3 million donated by the foundation established by Ray Charles were not accompanied by documents providing restrictions, covenants, or specific instructions.’ While there is some disagreement by the Ray Charles Foundation about the interpretation of Mr. Charles’ intent, we believe that ASU did not violate his trust and acted according to his wishes. The OIAC document includes a quote from an article by staff writer Brannon Stewart of The Albany Herald who interviewed Mr. Charles after announcing the gift at a commencement ceremony. Published Tuesday, May 7, 2002, it states: ‘Charles said he did not specify how the money should be spent. “They’ll do the right thing. That’s why I gave it to them.”’ Today, our efforts remain focused on constructing a state of the art Fine Arts facility for the students of Albany State University and the citizens of Southwest Georgia.”

The Herald asked the Charles’ Foundation for additional comments, but did not receive an immediate response.


jglass 2 years, 9 months ago

So, they received that money back in 2001-2002, what did they use it for? Did they spend it?


whattheheck 2 years, 9 months ago

As I recall, it was basically used for President's Scholarships awarded by the school. I don't think there was any doubt in how Ray Charles, and the Foundation wanted the money used. What the donors failed to realize is they were dealing with folks who had no problem using the money for other purposes once funding support for the building dwindled. The audit by the Reagents.was only meant to try and get ASU out of the crack it fell into. Reminds me of the jewelers commercial "be as sure of the diamond as you are of the girl".


Sister_Ruby 2 years, 9 months ago

You can't support the school and keep up the payments on the Benz.


AuntieDee 2 years, 9 months ago

“Charles said he did not specify how the money should be spent. ‘They’ll do the right thing. That’s why I gave it to them.... If the Herald indeed quoted Mr. Charles, seems to me giving Scholarships should be okay. After all, the students' education should the be focus of the university.

I think someone should investigate the foundation.


VSU 2 years, 9 months ago

ASU stole that money, plain and simple.


Roundman 2 years, 9 months ago

This was not like $300.00 -- This was $3,000,000.00 - MILLION. IF and a big IF he made that statement about trusting them --he did not know who he was dealing with -- ASU's Freman knew Mr. Charles intent --to get his Mother's name on a building -- ASU found a "loophole" and did what they wanted to with the money. If they had not been caught up with they might have named an 8X10 storage room for his Mom. It's a shame that we have these people leading & teaching in our colleges -- There is no way to know how that money not refunded was spent. Who did they give it to?? You can just guess!!! The Regents understand what they have here, but it's just looked over and they say "Well that's the way these people are -- you can't change them". AND WE HAVE NOT SEEN ANYTHING YET!!!


Cartman 2 years, 9 months ago

ASU didn't squander the gift. It is simply redistributed. Morehouse will be glad to put the money to its intended use and can be trusted to do so. I certainly hope you guys don't expect the public to make up the loss. I wonder why someone wasn't fired over this embarrassment.


dmyers80 2 years, 9 months ago

I dont think that ASU misused the money because IF the report is accurate it was not specified... Now that being said... the conditions at Holley Hall are horrible, Band, Art, english classes all going on at one time, the place is so small it is literally bursting at the seams!! Ther shouldnt be $50 spent by ASU if it isnt for helping Holley Hall!!


Ihope4albany 2 years, 9 months ago

This whole matter is so unfortunate. Philanthropy is a very vital part of any nonprofit or educational institution's development program. If Mr. Charles gave an unrestricted gift to ASU, that what it is, unrestricted. A restricted gift is restricted for specific purposes. Thus, ASU did not do anything wrong. The Ray Charles Foundation gives philanthropy a black eye by continuing to give the public false information.

I hope that ASU will name the Fine Arts Center after someone else and also honor Mr. Charles by including a plaque of recognition of his gift to the university in the Center once it is built.


waltspecht 2 years, 9 months ago

The money was used for schlorships that shifted the money from the grant to operating funds for ASU via the schlorship payment. This in turn bolstered ASU's numbers for State and Federal funding. Has anyone checked to see how many of these recipients were a part of the group that should have never been accepted by the College due to academic standing? How about how many of them completed a degree and are currently productive members of society? I don't mean the results of some College generated poll, I mean actual verification. This has nothing to do with ASU bashing, it has everything to do with honesty and integrity.


chinaberry25 2 years, 9 months ago

They had to admit to some wrong doing if they returned part of the money. He said, she said and if they went to court, then 'ASU would probably lose if it were tried outside of Albany.


Tonto 2 years, 9 months ago

Everything that ASU said on the record up until this recent "version" said they knew it was for the purpose Mr. Charles intended but they were trying to raise additional funds before the project could start.


oldster 2 years, 9 months ago

While I wish ASU well, there is a definite perception that throwing a million dollars at them is like throwing a drop of water out in the middle of the Sahara desert, it is lost and gone forever. What is sad is the that music department is outstanding, and they are the ones being hurt by this alleged misuse of donated money.


bubbavet 2 years, 9 months ago

ASU is a paper mill. They just have a way of covering up the smell. Class of 76.


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