• O’Leary

Fisk University President Hazel R. O’Leary announced yesterday that it will appeal the chancery court ruling that put certain conditions on its Stieglitz Collection-sharing deal with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The court ruled last month that Fisk could enter into the controversial 50-50 sharing deal with Crystal Bridges, but that it could not use all of the $30 million Alice Walton will pay Fisk for the half share to support the Tennessee university. Instead, the court said Fisk could spend only $10 million at its own discretion, and the remainder had to be placed into an endowment for the collection.

O’Leary’s statement (full announcement here):

“This restriction effectively confiscates proceeds from the approved sharing agreement and places Fisk in a more risky position than before. During the trial, Fisk presented evidence that the annual direct cost to maintain the art gallery where the Collection is housed is approximately $130,000. The Court has directed that Fisk dedicate approximately $1.0 million of income earned annually from the $20 million endowment for the support of the Collection exclusively. It is inconceivable to decide that $870,000 should be used annually to care for and educate the public about the Collection. As a result, any excess earnings not required for those purposes are unavailable to the University for educational purposes, to attract high quality scholars and researchers to the faculty, to provide scholarships to its talented and underserved students, or to maintain the many historic buildings which require constant repairs on our campus.”

Here’s some context from arts writer Lee Rosenbaum (who gets to spend her whole day thinking about art!).

And yes, Hazel O’Leary was Secretary of Energy during the Clinton administration. That just bubbled up to the top of my gray matter. Took a while.