After Merger, Radcliffe Turns to Donors

When alumnae wrote $72 million worth of checks payable to "Radcliffe College," they had no warning their money would end up in Harvard's bank account--through the new Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Before Tuesday's historic announcement that the 120-year-old institution would merge with Harvard, Radcliffe had been nearing the close of a seven-year, $100 million capital campaign. Though, as recently as two weeks ago, the campaign had a significant distance to go before reaching its goal, Radcliffe officials insisted they had several major gifts in the works.

But now the University will have to explain the switch to donors who have been kept in the dark about Radcliffe's plans for the last year. Officials from both institutions have said they are cautiously optimistic that donors will understand, but they're still waiting for the final verdict.

The retraction of donations is "certainly hypothetically possible," said Radcliffe's Vice President for College Relations Bonnie R. Clendenning.

She noted that when Wheaton College, a women's institution in Norton, went coeducational in 1988 immediately after finishing its capital campaign, alumnae pulled some $400,000 of recently donated funds.

"It was terrible timing," Clendenning said.

Now, Radcliffe faces the unenviable task of stepping up fundraising for the new Institute while simultaneously explaining to alumnae, like Adeline Naiman '46, that their alma mater is no more.

"I just don't see where the intimate connection is going to come from for the giving," Naiman said.

For many long-time donors to Radcliffe, giving money to Harvard--even through a Radcliffe institute--is a hard pill to swallow.

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