June 27, 2019 | 84° F

Judge supports Rutgers position in dispute with AADC


On Tuesday, Rutgers accused the Alumnae Association of Douglass College of misdirecting donations, hiding financial records and lying to potential donors. Rutgers attorneys filed more than 200 pages of legal documents to state their case,. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY NAAZ MODAN / PHOTO EDITOR

The legal dispute between Rutgers and the Alumni Association of Douglass College (AADC) came to a head on Thursday when a judge declined to intervene and supported the position of the University, University spokesman Greg Trevor said in an email to The Daily Targum.

Following the recent ruling, Trevor said in an email that Rutgers University has offered to enter into mediation of the outstanding issues and disputes with the AADC, with a goal of concluding the mediation as quickly as possible.

"Rutgers University is committed to Douglass’ mission of advancing women and the unique experience it creates for the next generation of female leaders," Trevor said. "We hope the AADC will join us in this effort."

Last week, the University tried to strip the AADC of fundraising abilities in an effort to increase transparency. The alumni association made a request for a temporary injunction to stop Rutgers from making changes to the group.

On Tuesday, the University accused the AADC of misdirecting donations, hiding financial records and lying to potential donors. Rutgers attorneys filed more than 200 pages of legal documents to state their case, NJ Advance Media reported.

In the judge's document released Thursday, the University argued that the AADC failed to provide financial records to the University and had a general lack of cooperation regarding fundraising.

"Our intention is to ensure that fundraising for Douglass is done efficiently and with full transparency and that a new spirit of cooperation can be established between the AADC and the University," Trevor said.

The AADC employs 17 people, and spent between 24 percent and 52 percent of the money it raised through donations on operational expenses between 2008 and 2013, NJ Advance Media reported. A majority of donations raised through the Douglass Annual Fund Drive are used to pay the group’s $1.2 million annual operating budget.

The AADC also did not follow through on the request of a donor to make a partial payment of $535,000 to a center that maintains an archive of the Douglass Library, NJ Advance Media reported. The AADC, however, denied the accusations of mishandling finances.

"The AADC's management of every single donation is accountable, transparent and efficient,” AADC president Jeanne Fox told NJ Advance Media. “We review every donation personally in order to ensure that we honor the intent and direction of each donor."

Rutgers officials said in their defense argument the alumnae group has been feuding with University officials for years over finances and access to donor contacts.

In their defense argument, the AADC accused Rutgers of cutting off its access to a key computer system and access to donor contacts and gift records that it needs to "effectively perform its mission."

" ... On April 20, 2015, without advance warning or notice, (the University) cut off AADC's access to a key computer system ... and other aspects of technological support in which AADC's donor gift, biographical and contact records are stored," Judge Philip Lewis Paley wrote in his nine-page decision. 

Still, the judge ruled the AADC failed to prove its case and that Rutgers has done its part by granting the AADC access to the computer systems for 30 days and providing passwords to the group upon request.

"(After 30 days) all computerized data will remain available to the AADC, if they pay the appropriate fee and/or assessment therefore," wrote Judge Paley.

Avalon Zoppo

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