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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: Litigation would vindicate detractors

Published: September 4, 2009
Section: Front Page

On Oct. 13, the university will find itself in Probate Court facing the ire of three Rose Art Museum benefactors. The benefactors, who filed suit against the university in July, are seeking an injunction preventing the sale of the museum’s art. The university is hoping the suit will be dismissed.

If the Rose benefactors are successful, and the court refuses to dismiss the case, it is in the university’s best interest to settle with the plaintiffs.

While the university’s outside counsel Thomas Reilly has dismissed the suit as “frivolous” and has expressed determination to fight it “aggressively,” to do so would only further damage our national reputation.

Last January, after President Jehuda Reinharz announced that the Board of Trustees had authorized the closing of the museum and the sale of its artwork, our university’s formerly good name was dragged through the mud in local and national publications alike.

We were decried as philistines who looked at a Warhol and saw only dollar signs. The university administration was understandably horrified by our vilification in the press, and took pains (and spent money) to reverse the damage.

If Reinharz and the university’s counsel choose litigation over settlement as Reilly has indicated, they are not only agreeing to the possibility of years of court battles, and the wasting of hundreds of thousands of dollars, they are sending the message that the university’s detractors were in fact correct.

The public relations finessing we saw over the last eight months, would be for naught. Pursuing the lawsuit would broadcast once and for all that the cultural and educational value of the Rose Art Museum’s collection is lost on the university’s administration.