Quick Takes: Judge Blocks Fisk From Selling Art, IRS Releases New 990 Form, Athletics Overhaul at Toledo

June 15, 2007
  • A Tennessee judge ruled Tuesday that Fisk University may not sell any of the 101 works of art it received from Georgia O'Keeffe in 1949, The Tennessean reported. Fisk has been trying to sell two works for millions of dollars -- and would have no trouble closing a deal -- but legal challenges have questioned whether the O'Keeffe gift permitted such a sale. Judge Ellen Hobbs Lyle said: "The only conclusion a reasonable person can reach is that it is the collection as a whole, not the individual artworks, which accomplishes the educational purpose specified at the time of the donation and that the donation was not given to Fisk to use as a source of revenue…. Dividing the collection destroys the identity and effect and the charitable purpose [of O'Keeffe's gift]. Similarly selling the entire collection converts it into a source of revenue for the University and destroys the art educational purpose." A spokesman for Fisk officials said the university wouldn't announce a reaction until after its board meets, next week. The proposed sale has prompted a national debate about if and when it is appropriate for colleges to sell art.
  • The Internal Revenue Service has released a new Form 990, the form private colleges and other private nonprofit groups must file every year and release to the public upon request. Additional or rephrased questions seek more information about executive compensation and about the way boards and executives of nonprofit groups conduct business. The release of the new form follows criticism that some nonprofit groups have found ways to be less than complete in their answers on the old form, and amid greater Congressional scrutiny of private colleges and other nonprofit groups.
  • Following a series of scandals, the University of Toledo is overhauling its athletics program. The Toledo Blade reported that reforms include: interviews for every basketball and football player, prior to next season to determine eligibility; replacing the team's physician; and moving some financial record-keeping from the athletics to the accounting department.
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