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Donor's Slur Raises Questions for Colleges

July 12, 2018

John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John’s Pizza, on Wednesday apologized for using a racial slur to describe black people. His use of the slur also raised questions for universities with which he is associated as a donor.

The University of Louisville announced that he was stepping down as a trustee.

Purdue University received $8 million from Schnatter's foundation this year and then renamed an economics center the John H. Schnatter Center for Economic Research. The Journal & Courier reported that Purdue officials said they would "continue to assess the situation while reinforcing our values."

The University of Kentucky received a $12 million gift in 2015 -- from Schnatter and the Charles Koch Foundation -- to create a center for the study of free enterprise. Jay Blanton, a spokesman for the university, released this statement: “Without question, the language reported in the conference call is unacceptable and has no place in our community. We look forward to Mr. Schnatter further addressing this issue in response to the heavy criticism he is rightly receiving.”

Ball State University also has a free enterprise center named for Schnatter, an alumnus. A spokeswoman said via email, "We just received this information within the last few hours so it is premature for us [to] comment on this specific incident involving John Schnatter. At Ball State, our alumni, faculty, staff, and students are committed to the Beneficence Pledge which encourages us 'to act in a socially responsible way' and 'pledge to value the intrinsic worth of every member of the community.'"

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