ASU Returns $3 million To Ray Charles Foundation


Albany State University has refunded the entire $3 million donation from Ray Charles Foundation after failing to construct a performing arts center in the campus.

"There's no question it was disappointing. Ray Charles gave the commencement address back in 2000 or 2001 where he announced the gift himself and it's disappointing that his intentions were not carried through," David Brokaw, Ray Charles Foundation Public Relations, Walb 10 News reports.

ASU's fine arts building was to be named after the famed singer and Albany native Ray Charles, and its Children's Theater was to be named in honor of his mother, Aretha Robinson Ray. 

The university alleges that the cost calculated for ASU's fine arts building was estimated to be around $28.8 million. Even if the entire Ray Charles gift had been considered, it would still have been impossible for the university to make progress until the remaining funds had been secured.

In February 2012, university officials said that nearly $2 million went to fund 125 Ray Charles Presidential Scholarships. Therefore, only $1 million was left and the university could not secure additional funding from the state.

"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," Foundation president Valerie Ervin said, Albany Herald reports."We are grateful to Attorney General Owens (sic) and his office for holding ASU accountable and thereby making it possible that future donations are used as stipulated by donors."

Albany State University president Everette J Freeman said that a new fine arts building still remains one of the school's important projects.

"I hold dearly and take seriously the memory of Ray Charles, who taught me over two decades ago never to give up on what is right. Mr. Charles' instructions to honor his late mother will be realized at Morehouse College. Unfortunately, it will not be on the campus of ASU," Ervin said.

Charles, who died in 2004, also donated over $1 million to Morehouse that has built a performing arts center.

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