By Sarah Light
A Utah Valley State College donor threatened to pull over $1 million in artwork donations as a result of the university”s recent decision to invite Michael Moore to the campus.
The donor, whose name has not been released, will only donate a portion of his collection to UVSC”s Woodbury Gallery.
“What upset him most was the price that the students offered Mr. Moore for coming, because Mr. Moore has never made that kind of money for a one hour speech,” said Barbra Wardle, director of the gallery.
Wardle said the donor would instead donate the other fraction of his collection to Brigham Young University.
“This gentleman can do as he chooses with his own property,” Wardle said. “We would have loved to have had it, but I respect his rights.”
Ian Wilson, vice president for institutional advancement and marketing at UVSC, said the donor has the same concerns as many of the alumni.
“The reasons are basically the same for all the donors,” Wilson said. “It”s not that they”re opposed to diversity or liberal views. From what I”m hearing, the donors are saying that Michael Moore is just a dishonest, disreputable propagandist as an individual.”
Wardle said the majority of the artwork in the museum comes from donors, although there are also several student works. The museum mostly relies on donations since the budget only allows for one or two purchases a year.
“That gift would have more than doubled our collection,” Wardle said. “Our total collection wouldn”t have come anywhere near what we would have had with his [donations].”
The donor has previously contributed $230,000 of early 20th century photography to the gallery.
Derek Hall, UVSC spokesperson, said officials had attempted to negotiate the situation, but the donor called off the negotiations.
“We hope he”ll change his mind,” Wilson said. “He may or may not, but for the time being, that”s what he has said.”
Wardle said she and other UVSC officials hope to maintain a relationship with the donor and still receive some of his work in the future.
“We have over a 20-year relationship with the donor, and I imagine that it will continue in some fashion,” Hall said. “It”s up to him. We”re keeping the channels of communication open.”
In addition to this threat, UVSC officials have continued to receive calls and e-mails from concerned alumni since the student government announced its decision to invite Moore. Wilson said although the calls from donors have decreased significantly this week, his department has received hundreds of calls since the student government announced its decision to invite Moore.
“A lot of it is Michael Moore the personality, not the fact that we”re bringing somebody with a different viewpoint,” Wilson said.
Although the invite to Sean Hannity has pleased some alumni, Wilson said most donors are still upset with the decision to invite Moore.
“For some of the donors, it was never an issue of balance,” Wilson said. “That was not the issue. It was Michael Moore as a personality, as an individual. So whether Sean Hannity comes or not, doesn”t change that part of it.”
“What ultimately happens remains to be seen,” Wilson said. “We”ll know down the road whether people carry through with that threat or not, or whether we”re able to persuade some of them to reconsider. The financial impact of it is really to be seen down the road.”