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July 28, 2014

Departing Ind. Charity Head Drew Heat for Stockpiling Assets

The president and CEO of a northern Indiana grant maker is stepping down after a decades-long career that saw him draw praise for funding a wide range of local charities and criticism for not doling out more as his organization's coffers swelled to $358-million, writes the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

John Walling has announced he will leave North Central Health Services in West Lafayette, Ind., by the end of the year. Because NCHS, as it is known, offers medical services through a local psychiatric hospital as well as making grants, it is not considered a foundation and is not subject to the regulation that it spend 5 percent of its assets annually.

According to tax records, from 2007 to 2011 NCHS made grants totaling $12.7-million while its assets grew from $248-million to $358-million. "The money's just been sitting there, and John became the king of that," said Dr. Bob Hagen of Lafayette Orthopaedic Clinic, who has led efforts to build a new facility for the Indiana University School of Medicine in Lafayette. NCHS declined to donate to that project.

Mr. Walling declined to be interviewed for the article. NCHS board members praised his stewardship, saying the charity has sought to spend prudently and where it can do the most good, for example not funding organizations that have recourse to tax dollars.