For Immediate Release


October 23, 2007




Group Hoping for Action from Attorney General Bob McDonnell


LYNCHBURG, VA -In an effort to prevent the trustees of Lynchburg's

Randolph-Macon Woman's College (R-MWC)-known as Randolph College since

July-from auctioning four irreplaceable paintings to increase an

Already generous $153 million endowment, a motion for temporary injunction

and a complaint requesting a temporary and permanent injunction has been

filed before the Lynchburg Circuit Court, Preserve Educational Choice announced



"Judging by how hastily and secretively Randolph College officials took

away the art, it is clear that the college fears a ruling from the

Supreme Court against their actions and is moving to sell the pieces of

art as quickly as possible," said Anne Yastremski, Executive Director of

Preserve Educational Choice, the alumnae group supporting the lawsuits.


"This motion for injunction seeks to stop the College from irreparably

harming their reputation and their world-class American art collection

until these lawsuits against Randolph College have been cleared by the

Commonwealth of Virginia's court system. We've been waiting for Attorney


General Bob McDonnell to take action to stop the College, but since we

Know of no action thus far, the plaintiffs in this injunction suit and

Thousands of other alumnae, donors to the College and the Maier, and

citizens of Lynchburg felt they needed to take action themselves."


The plaintiffs that have filed the request for an injunction include

all of the students, alumnae and donors of R-MWC involved in the

charitable trust and breach of contract lawsuits that currently are

being considered on appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia, as well

as the eleven potential "intervenors" who have asked the Lynchburg

Circuit Court to stop Randolph College's attempt to sell off the art

purchased with funds from the Trust of Louise Jordan Smith.


Just last month, the Supreme Court of Virginia decided to hear appeals

Of two lawsuits challenging the College's fall 2006 decision to become

co-educational. The first suit, which involves "donor intent,"

challenges the college on charitable trust grounds, arguing that the

college should have to prove it cannot continue as a woman's college

before it can use the assets accumulated under the original charitable

purpose - to "educate women in the liberal arts" - for the benefit of a

coed college. The second suit, filed by a group of students, alleges breach

of contract, saying that they had been promised four years of single-sex

education. Both suits pending before the Supreme Court of Virginia include

allegations that the protection of the art collection is vital to providing

the relief sought by the student and donor plaintiffs.


In the Circuit Court case filed by the College, the College asked the

courts for permission to break the Trust of Louise Jordan Smith.

Relatives of Louise Jordan Smith, students, alumnae, former faculty and

Maier Museum directors, donors, and Lynchburg citizens filed a Motion for

Leave to Intervene in the suit, alleging that the money from Smith's trust

was used to purchase a large number of the most valuable paintings in

Randolph's Maier Museum collection. The intervenors contend that the

entire art collection must be protected in order to honor the intentions

of Smith, both through her trust and her efforts during her lifetime.

A hearing on that motion to intervene is scheduled for November 15.


"The Court's decisions in these cases could affect whether or not the

College can or needs to sell the paintings now at Christie's," says

Yastremski. "If the College is allowed to go forward with the

Christie's auction before our cases are finalized, the art-pieces like

George Wesley Bellow's 1912 "Men of the Docks" which constitute the

cornerstone of the Maier-will be lost forever."


Yastremski, pointing to the college's $153 million endowment (one of

the largest in Virginia), believes the College's efforts to sell these

paintings are "due to greed, not need."


While the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) has put

The College on financial warning, it was not due to the size of the

endowment. The specific issues that SACS cited the college for -

astronomical tuition discounting (nearly twice the national average),

excessive deferred maintenance, and operating deficits - are all signs

of fiscal mismanagement, not a too-small endowment.


"Randolph College officials will do anything to mask the real problems:

out-of-control spending and poor management, neither of which will be

Fixed by selling portions of the school's treasured art collection," said

Yastremski. "This collection was not assembled as a financial

Investment for future 'hard times,' but rather from public donations and

funds allocated to benefit the college's educational mission and to create

a cultural resource for the community. Two of the four paintings in question

were donations from private individuals to the permanent collection, one was

purchased with fees paid by students (at their request) specifically for

the purpose of buying art and supporting artistic events on campus, and the

most valuable one - "Men of the Docks" - was purchased by a Lynchburg-based

community group with the express purpose of forming a permanent collection for

the benefit of the students and the citizens of Lynchburg."


Even if an infusion of capital was necessary, which thousands of Alumnae and

donors don't believe, the national art community has strict Standards against

the sale of art for general fund purposes. Nearly every major Virginia and national

art association has condemned the College's plans to sell the four paintings,

including the Association of Art Museum Directors, the Association of Art Museum Curators,

the College Art Association, the Association of College and University Museums and Galleries

and the Virginia Association of Museums.


"It is obvious that the current Randolph officials and Trustees care

nothing for ethics or their donor's wishes. Hopefully the Attorney

General and the Commonwealth's Courts will realize this, and act

accordingly," said Yastremski. "If not, donors may need to think twice

about investing their hard earned resources with the state's many nonprofits." 


T.Patrick Brennan

Sr. Director of Preservation, Programs & Properties

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation

1516 Peachtree Street

Atlanta, Ga 30309-2908

direct 404.885.7814

fax 404.875.2205