ASU refunds Ray Charles grant

Jan. 10, 2013 at 11:45 AM

ALBANY, Ga., Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Albany State University in Georgia has refunded money donated by the Ray Charles Foundation after failing to use the money to build a fine arts building.

The foundation gave the university a total of $3 million in 2001 and 2002 to build a fine arts building, Albany (Ga.) Herald reported Thursday. It was unclear how much money was refunded.

However, the school had yet to start building, the foundation said.

"The funds were granted solely to help build a performing arts center, The Ray Charles Fine Arts Building, housing a theater to be named in honor of the singer's mother, Retha Robinson," foundation spokesperson David Brokaw said. "Since no effort was made to build the facility and years of promises produced no outcome, the Foundation contacted Georgia Attorney General Samuel Owens [sic] to seek his office's assistance. Graciously, Attorney General Owens [sic] agreed to listen to their grievance."

In February, 2012, ASU said $2 million of the money from the foundation went to fund 125 Ray Charles Presidential Scholarships, while $1 million was not spent. The university also said it was was a "misconception" of the Ray Charles donation "as being restricted."

"Ray Charles, Joe Adams, who was Ray's longtime manager, and I were clear and specific about how this gift was to be spent. It is incomprehensible that ASU failed to use the money in the manner Mr. Charles specified. We are grateful to Attorney General Owens [sic] and his office for holding ASU accountable and thereby making it possible that future donations are used as stipulated by donors," foundation President Valerie Ervin said.

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