Regent Bernstein withdraws $3 million gift to new multicultural center

Thursday, July 21, 2016 - 4:48pm

University of Michigan Regent Mark Bernstein (D) formally withdrew his $3 million dollar donation he offered in April to help construct the new multicultral center on State Street at the final summer regent's meeting — Bernstein's first as chairman of the board.

Bernstein withdrew his donation because Trotter Multicultural Center is the only building on campus that is named after an African American.

"There are hundreds and hundreds of buidings on this campus and only one — Trotter — bears the name of an African American," Bernstein said. "This is wrong."

Bernstein added that his name on the new multicultural center would diminsh the legacy of the Trotter house, which was also a sentiment expressed by students and other members of the University community.

"Once the applause for our gift announcement quieted, we heard something else — voices on this campus that expressed deep, heartfelt concern about what was happening," he said. "What we believed to be a gift, others felt as a loss. Since the gift announcement we spent time with faculty, students, staff and alumni who shared with us their sense of loss and to express their fear that the only African American name on a building at our University would be diminished or erased."

Rick Fitzgerald, University Director of Public Affairs, said the withdrawal of Bernstein's gift would not affect the building's construction in any way, including its design and size.

"It won't have any impact on the project moving forward," Fitzgerald said. "This project was approved before Regent Bernstein and his wife gave their generous gift."