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July 15, 2015

Ohio U. Urged to Cut Ties With Donor Over Race-Tinged Email

Some students and faculty at Ohio University are calling on the school to cut ties with a multimillion-dollar donor who advised administrators to "play the race card" in a controversy involving the campus's African-American president, The Columbus Dispatch writes.

The critics want Steven Schoonover to resign as a trustee of the Ohio University Foundation and for the school to remove his name from campus facilities, including a communications building for which he gave $7.5 million.

Amid an outcry over university plans to spend $1.2 million on a home for President Roderick McDavis — a deal that was eventually nixed — Mr. Schoonover wrote in an April 2 email to campus officials and fellow foundation board members that the school should "handle it the same way the Democrats do every time Republicans attack President Obama. ... Just play the race card and call them racists and make them defend themselves!"

University spokeswoman Katharine Quaranta said Mr. Schoonover "made his remarks to express his personal opinion on the matter." Protesters said the email harms campus efforts to promote diversity and inclusion and indicates undue donor influence on university policy.