Letter to the Editor

The Spirit of the Gift

By Joan Kaplan,President, Kaplan Family Foundation
Posted 9/17/20

The Kaplan Family Foundation was recently made aware that the property now known as the Desmond Center for Adult Enrichment will be put on the market for sale by Mount Saint Mary College. The reason …

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Letter to the Editor

The Spirit of the Gift

Posted

The Kaplan Family Foundation was recently made aware that the property now known as the Desmond Center for Adult Enrichment will be put on the market for sale by Mount Saint Mary College. The reason given was that the financial burden that the property upkeep and maintenance causes for the college was no longer viable.  Given the Foundation’s decades long involvement with the college we were surprised and displeased to hear the news.

Over the course of several decades the Foundation has issued grants to multiple not-for-profits and other worthy causes. Prior to awarding these grants there is a process of rigorous due diligence to ascertain that the grant recipient’s mission coincides with that of the Foundation.  We occasionally discover after the fact that the grantee has not performed to the original intent of the grant. 

As a family foundation we believe that in accepting a generous gift of this sort there is a moral and possibly legal obligation to live up to the spirit of the gift.

Following the 1990 death of owner Alice Curtis Desmond, this property was donated to the college for parkland and educational purposes along with a $2 million endowment for maintenance. Over the past three decades, thousands of grateful area residents have taken more than 100 courses of instruction in the arts, sciences, fitness and more. In 2018 alone more than 2,000 people attended classes. To sell this property solely for the purpose of alleviating financial burden on the college, with no consideration of maintaining the spirit of the original bequest, would not only be a travesty, but also a breach of trust. 

The Kaplan Family and the Kaplan Foundation believes that any dispersal of this estate should continue to honor the wishes of Alice Curtis Desmond for the mission of adult education and use as a parkland and environmental education center.

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