Donor Asks Queens College to Return $4.5 Million Gift

Medical entrepreneur and philanthropist Dr. Bernard Salick has asked Queens College to return a $4.5 million gift he gave the school in 1997 to help build an AIDS research center, the New York Times reports.

Salick asked that the gift be returned after it became clear that the college was unable to raise the funds necessary to construct the new facility. Originally, college president Allen L. Sessoms had promised to raise $30 million for the center, which was to be led by renowned AIDS researcher Dr. Luc Montagnier. After plans for the center were announced, the state and city of New York pledged $15 million and $4.5 million, respectively, on the condition that the money be matched by other funds. The matching support never materialized, however, and Sessoms later resigned his position.

In a letter to Queens College, Dr. Salick wrote: "This project, which was launched with the highest of hopes and pleasure, has become a source of severe embarrassment for our family. Our reputations in both scientific and philanthropic circles have been badly damaged by it."

Salick added that the money would not have to be returned to him directly, but would be allocated to another charitable organization, although he did not specify which one.

Dr. Russell K. Hotzler, the college's acting president, told the Times that he hoped it might still be possible for the school to develop a plan for a project that the Salicks would support.

Karen W. Arenson. "Donor Asks College to Return AIDS Money" New York Times 01/19/2001.