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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Scott Kull: The new Director of Athletics
Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

Money, Money, Money

A+statue+of+Jerry+Richardson+on+Wofford%E2%80%99s+campus.+Richardson+has+considerable+influence+on+the+Wofford+administration%2C+most+recently+through+a+%24150+million+donation.+Photo+courtesy+of+Mark+Olenki.
A statue of Jerry Richardson on Wofford’s campus. Richardson has considerable influence on the Wofford administration, most recently through a $150 million donation. Photo courtesy of Mark Olenki.

In a rich man’s world, who’s the boss?

On Feb. 24, Wofford students and faculty received an email from the Office of Marketing and Communications announcing that alum Jerome “Jerry” Richardson ’58 donated $150 million to Wofford College. 

According to the email, the donation funds will be used to begin the implementation of a $15 minimum wage to campus staff, fund off-campus learning opportunities, and supplement need-based scholarships and building repair funds. Richardson’s donation is a part of the “For Wofford” campaign, which began in Oct. 2018. Richardson’s $150 million supports the campaign’s goal of reaching $300 million by Oct. 2022. 

With more than half of the monetary goal reached in a single donation, Richardson’s contribution is undoubtedly going to make a positive impact on the Wofford community moving forward—a $15 minimum wage alone is enough to change the lives of many members of the Wofford and Spartanburg community. Not to mention the scholarships that will come out of this endowment; tuition is still increasing yearly, and financial aid can be the dealbreaker that prevents a capable, intelligent prospective student from accepting a spot as a Terrier. 

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It is quite ironic, though, that Richardson made this donation during Black History Month, followed by Women’s History Month, considering the allegations made against him in 2018. The former Carolina Panthers owner, Richardson was fined more than $2 billion for workplace misconduct—sexual harassment and the use of racial slurs. 

Two years ago, I wrote an opinion piece detailing a petition made by Wofford faculty to rename Wofford’s recently-completed freshman dorm, Jerome J. Richardson Hall. Some faculty members felt that naming the building after Richardson himself memorialized his racist and sexist behaviors, and instead requested that the college discuss other names for the dorm that would avoid yet another building named after Jerry Richardson on our small campus. 

That petition was quickly dismissed by the Provost. But the sentiment that Wofford should be more selective with Richardson’s donations remains on campus, especially now that Richardson has given the largest donation in Wofford history. 

The moral dilemma Wofford continually faces is whether or not to prioritize finances that would benefit students or to reject a donation to uphold the principles that many of its students value. Administration has made its choice—with this money, hopefully the Wofford community can further its goals of social justice. But at the same time, members of the Wofford community continue to question their decision.

There is a difference between this donation and past endowments given by Richardson; at least here, the money directly benefits underrepresented groups in a way that donations of the past have not. However, that does not mean we can forget, or even forgive, Richardson’s past actions. 

In the past, students and faculty have been most upset by the number of buildings on campus that memorialize his name and persona. This money, however, does not erect yet another monument to a wealthy, scandal-ridden donor. How can Wofford address modern issues while also keeping the financial interests of the college in mind?

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    Leo LiebermanJul 19, 2021 at 8:04 pm

    Mr. Richardson was fined $2.75 million, not billion. That’s a pretty substantial error in reporting.