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Albany State Refunds Ray Charles Donation

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The Albany Herald today reports that Albany State University has refunded money given to the university by Ray Charles through his foundation. It is not clear how much money the institution has refunded to the Foundation, and the transaction ends years of acrimony between the school and the organization, which says Albany State never made good on its promise to build a fine arts center in honor of Charles’ mother.

“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. Since no effort was made to build the facility and years of promises produced no outcome, the Foundation contacted Georgia Attorney General, Samuel Owens, to seek his office’s assistance. Graciously, Atty General Owens agreed to listen to their grievance,” David Brokaw, a spokesman for the Charles Foundation told the Herald Wednesday.

Last year, Albany State officials said that Charles donated $3 million to Albany State between 2001 and 2002, and that neither of the gifts were explicitly restricted to construction of a campus fine arts center. Reports from 2012 suggest that the university awarded $1 million of his gift in student scholarships, and earmarked the other $2 million towards the fine arts center conceptualizing and construction, which the university said would be completed in 2013 or 2014 at a cost of $72 million.