Weills Withdraw $20 Million Naming Gift to Paul Smith's College

Sanford I. and Joan Weill have decided to withdraw their $20 million naming gift to Paul Smith's College after a judge ruled that the school could not be renamed for Mrs. Weill, the New York Times reports.

The Weills had pledged the gift on the condition that the school be renamed Joan Weill-Paul Smith's College. Earlier this month, however, a New York State court rejected the name change on the grounds that it violated the terms of a 1937 bequest from Phelps Smith, the son of Adirondacks hotelier and entrepreneur Apollos "Paul" Smith, which stipulated that the college "be forever known" as Paul Smith's College of Arts and Sciences, in honor of his father. While the college had argued that the stipulation "nearly fatally impedes the ability of Paul Smith's to seek large gifts from a single donor in order to make the investments it needs to remain viable," its board of trustees announced on October 22 that it would not appeal the court's decision.

Joan Weill has served on the board of the college, and the Weills have contributed nearly $10 million and helped raise almost $30 million more for the school, which is known for its programs in forestry and hotel management and is the only four-year college in the six-million-acre Adirondack Park.

"It was a naming gift, so without the court allowing us to go forward there was no money," said Paul Smith's College spokesperson Bob Bennett. "That was the deal, right from the beginning."

"After Ruling, Paul Smith’s College Won't Get Weills' $20 Million Renaming Gift." New York Times 10/22/2015. "Paul Smith's College to Accept Court Ruling." Paul Smith's College Press Release 10/22/2015.