Honor For Controversial Pastor May Hurt TCU Alumni Giving

This story was written by David Hall & Valerie Hannon, Daily Skiff
Reactions have been strong and donations to the university may be jeopardized because of Brite Divinity School's decision to honor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the parent relations director said Tuesday.

April Culver, director of parent relations, said she has received numerous angry phone calls from students' parents threatening to stop giving to the university if Wright is given the Black Church Leader Award. Culver said, though, that none of the donors have pulled their funding yet.

Wright is scheduled to be honored by the Brite on Saturday for his career in ministry. However, Chancellor Victor Boschini has said TCU would not give a similar award to the controversial pastor.

"We're trying to get people to understand that there's a difference between TCU and Brite," Culver said.

It makes little difference to the donors who still threaten to stop giving even after explanations of Brite's status as a separate institution from TCU, Culver said.

TCU's Phonathon program, which hires students to solicit donations for the university's annual fund, has also received negative reaction regarding Wright.

"We've had a few people who have asked not to be contacted because of this issue," said Jerome Douglas, Phonathon director.

Douglas said the people who asked not to be contacted by Phonathon weren't regular givers.

He said some regular donors had voiced concern, but said they will wait until Brite awards Wright to make a final decision.

Karin Lewis, the chancellor's administrative assistant, said the chancellor's office also received numerous calls at the height of the controversy from alumni and other donors from the community saying they would no longer donate to the university.

"There were some who said they had thought about donating to TCU in their will, and this decision made them reconsider," Lewis said. "Others just said they wouldn't donate to TCU anymore."

Lewis said she has also received calls from past football-season ticket holders saying they would no longer be purchasing season tickets.

She said calls have significantly lessened since the announcement that the event would be moved off campus. She said she received three such calls Tuesday, down from last week when the office was handling calls continuously.

The university's board of trustees voted to move the event off campus citing "security issues."

The banquet honoring Wright has been moved to Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, said Elizabeth Payne, the pastor's assistant at the church. Carolyn Ray, president's assistant at Paul Quinn, said the luncheon will be at the college Saturday.

However, Joan Harrell, minister of communications for Wright's Chicago church, told the Dallas Morning News late Tuesday that Wright's schedule wasn't final yet and that his presence in Dallas is still up in the air.
© 2008 Daily Skiff via U-WIRE
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