Princeton Settles Endowment Lawsuit

Princeton entered into a settlement on Tuesday that will pay out $90 million to end a lawsuit brought against the university for failing to fulfill the original intent of an endowment fund donor.

The case was filed by decedents of a donor in July 2002.

According to a press release from Princeton, the Robertson Foundation, originally established with a $35 million stock donation by Marie Robertson in 1961, was at one time valued over $900 million before the recent economic downturn.

The foundation was established to support the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs with the mission of preparing graduates for careers in government service with special emphasis in international relations.

In an attempt to seize control of the funds, the plaintiffs sued Princeton for misusing the money in ways that they said did not align with the foundation’s mission.

Harvard Kennedy School professor Joseph S. Nye, a graduate of Princeton and an authority on international relations, defended his alma mater, saying that the Wilson School follows the original mission of the foundation “very much so.”

Nye said that he thought the case did not provide a legitimate accusation.

The six-year-old litigation has come at significant cost to both sides.

“It’s a pity to think $80 million were wasted on litigation when that money could have been spent on scholarships,” Nye said.

Approximately $40 million from settlement will go toward reimbursing the legal expenses of the Robertson family.

The remaining $50 million will be redirected to a new foundation to be established by the Robertson’s family.

Jennifer Berkowitz, a spokesperson for the Robertson family, said in an e-mail that “no decisions have been made yet” regarding whether the Robertson’s family will use the settlement money to support another university program.