US college criticised for spending $1m donated by late librarian on a new scoreboard

Robert Morin left $4m to the University of New Hampshire, with only $100,000 going to the library he spent 50 years working in

US college criticised for spending $1m donated by late librarian on a new scoreboard


When a librarian who spent 50 years working at the University of New Hampshire passed away last year, a lifetime of frugality had led to him amassing a personal fortune of $4m, which he bequeathed to his workplace. But now a decision by the college to allocate only $100,000 of it to the library he worked while spending $1m on a new video scoreboard for its football stadium has been widely criticised for disrespecting the spirit of Robert Morin’s donation.

Morin, who graduated from UNH in 1963 and who spent nearly half a century working as a cataloguer in the school’s Dimond Library, was known to his colleagues as a man of simple pleasures.

“He would have some Fritos and a Coke for breakfast, a quick cheese sandwich at the library, and at home would have a frozen dinner because the only thing he had to work with was a microwave, Ge was a very unusual gentleman,” Edward Mullen, Morin’s longtime financial advisor, told The Boston Globe when it first reported his generous will request.

On campus, he was also known for his voracious appetite for reading and watching video tapes from the library collection. According to a UNH press release: “Morin also had a passion for watching movies, and from 1979 to 1997 he watched more than 22,000 videos. Following this feat, he switched his attention to books. He read, in chronological order, every book published in the US from 1930 to 1940 – excluding children’s books, textbooks, and books about cooking and technology. At the time of his death he 1938, the year of his birth.”

The late Robert Morin, whose donation of $4m to the college left many stunned [UNH]

A man with clear passions, it came as a surprise then when the college’s financial authorities decided to dedicate a quarter of the fortune left to them by Morin on the scoreboard for their football stadium – a structure that had just recently been reopened following a $25m redevelopment. The move has been poorly received by the college community, with one blogger writing that nobody would look back at their UNH experience in ten years and remember the impact the scoreboard had on them.

Of the remaining $2.9m, the vast majority is to be spent on expanding the college’s career centre for its students and graduates. The final sum of $400,000 has yet to be allocated.

In a press release last Friday, the university explained its choice by saying that Morin had developed an interest in college football during the last 15 months of his life.

“Despite being asked many times over many years by his financial advisor, it was Mr Morin’s firm decision to designate only a small portion of his estate to the library and to leave the rest unrestricted for the university to use as it saw fit,” the statement reads.

“Yes, we have heard from people who disagree with out the gift was used. We respect and acknowledge that feedback, but it does not change our decision.”

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