UNH Defends Its Scoreboard Purchase

Concord Monitor
Saturday, September 17, 2016

Durham, n.h. — Robert Morin, a library cataloger at the University of New Hampshire, drove a 1992 Plymouth and ate chips for breakfast. Upon his death in 2015, he stunned his alma mater and employer of nearly 50 years by donating the entirety of a $4 million fortune he had quietly amassed over decades of thrift.

The school celebrated the gift, publicly releasing the details of how it planned to use the money late last month. Morin’s story was picked up by national media outlets, but the details of how UNH planned to use the gift led to backlash at home.

UNH on Friday stood by its decision to use $1 million of the $4 million bequest to install a video scoreboard at the school’s new football stadium.

“Yes, we have heard from people who disagree with how the gift was used. We respect and acknowledge that feedback but it does not change our decision,” UNH’s director of media relations Erika Mantz said in a statement on Friday.

The largest portion of the bequest — $2.5 million — will be used at the university’s career center. By contrast, $100,000 was spent at Dimond Library, where Morin worked.

“Matching infrastructure to UNH’s aspirations and investing in student career success are two of our highest strategic priorities that we have communicated with our board and our campus community,” Mantz said.

The school further defended the decision by saying it was Morin’s “firm decision to designate only a small portion of his estate to the library and to leave the rest unrestricted for the university to use as it saw fit.”

Gov. Maggie Hassan also joined the fray on Friday, saying the gift could have been put to better use elsewhere.

“It is concerning and perplexing that the University of New Hampshire decided to use part of this generous donation on an expensive new scoreboard,” Hassan said in a statement. “There were much more appropriate uses for these funds — such as the library and career center that received part of the donation, the new science building that the university wants or holding down the cost of tuition.”

However, the money already has been spent, Mantz said in an interview. The stadium opened earlier this month with the 30-foot by 50-foot scoreboard in place.

Mantz said it was UNH President Mark Huddleston’s call as to how the money was spent.

A blog post by UNH graduate Claire Cortese took the school to task for spending $1 million on an “inconsequential trinket” while its students struggle to pay one of the highest tuitions in the country.

“Despite putting their alumni in financially crippling debt, the university still seems to find it appropriate to throw their money away into completely trivial money pits,” Cortese wrote in a post that was shared more than 6,000 times online.