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      Albany State University issues rebuttal against Ray Charles Foundation's accusation

      Albany State University has issued a response to the Ray Charles Foundation. / From file


      From a press release issued by Albany State University:

      On Oct 10, 2011, Albany State University sent a response to the Ray Charles Foundation that addresses the misconception of the Ray Charles gift as being restricted. In the letter, Albany State University's Counsel points out that the first check in the amount of one million dollars given to then ASU President Portia Holmes Shields by Mr. Charles' personal manager, Joe Adams, was not restricted. The only request was to ensure that Dr. Shields' representation of ASU was "everything she said it was." Mr. Adams found that to be true after meeting with Fine Arts Department faculty, members of the ASU Concert Chorale and presidential scholars. After Mr. Adams' visit, an Albany Herald article on Wednesday, June 13, 2001 heralded Mr. Charles' gift with the following headline: "Singer Charles gives $1 million for Albany State scholarships".

      The letter also states Mr. Ray Charles gave a two million dollar gift at the Spring 2002 Commencement in which he served as the Commencement Speaker, and in an interview with the Albany Herald after the program, he did not specify how the money should be spent, but that "They'll do the right thing. That's why I gave it to them."

      The University does believe that a Fine Arts Building named after Mr. Charles, with a theatre named in honor of Mr. Charles' mother, Mrs.... Aretha Robinson, is one of the ways to do "the right thing." The University has been working tirelessly towards that goal. We have received additional funds from the state to support the design phase of the building, and we will continue in our efforts of honoring Mr. Ray Charles by constructing a Fine Arts Building in his name.

      UPDATED: Ray Charles was the spring 2002 Commencement speaker.

      The Ray Charles Foundation gave Albany State University a three million dollars gift in which the organization says was for the construction of a performing arts center that should be named in the late singers honor.

      The university says that an interview that took place after Mr. Charles speech in 2002 and he didn't give specifics on how the money should be spent. Mr. Charles is quoted the Albany Herald as saying "They'll do the right thing. That's why I gave it to them." (Albany Herald, "Hall of Fame singer has 'ASU on his mind'", A1, May 7, 2002).

      And because of that statement Albany State has used some of the money.

      "In fact we used 2 million dollars for presidential scholarships for a hundred and twenty five students," Dr. Everette Freeman, Albany State University President.

      In the letter, Albany State University's Counsel points out that the first check in the amount of one million dollars given to then ASU President Portia Holmes Shields by Mr. Charles' personal manager, Joe Adams, was not restricted. The only request was to ensure that Dr. Shields' representation of ASU was "everything she said it was." Mr. Adams found that to be true after meeting with Fine Arts Department faculty, members of the ASU Concert Chorale and presidential scholars. After Mr. Adams' visit, an Albany Herald article on Wednesday, June 13, 2001 heralded Mr. Charles' gift with the following headline: "Singer Charles gives $1 million for Albany State scholarships" A7-A8.

      The University has the last one million dollars in an account waiting to put with other funds in which they are hope they receive from Chancellor at the University System of Georgia.

      Plans have been drawn up and estimated to cost twenty-seven million dollars and is expected located to be located near the ACAD auditorium on campus.

      It won't be in the academic budget year 2012 but the moneys will be allocated for fiscal year 2013 or 2014. It's there, it's going to happen," Dr. Freeman.

      The University does believe that a Fine Arts Building named after Mr. Charles, with a theatre named in honor of Mr. Charles' mother, Mrs. Aretha Robinson, is one of the ways to do "the right thing." The University has been working tirelessly towards that goal.

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