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August 31, 2015

Portland State Fundraisers Quit After Dubious $100-Million Pledge Falls Through

Portland State University's two highest-ranking fundraisers are resigning in the wake of the unraveling of a dubious $100-million pledge from a supposed billionaire with a history of making grandiose promises, The Oregonian reports.

Francoise Aylmer, president and CEO of the PSU Foundation, and Kristin Coppola, the university's chief development officer, had pursued the would-be donation from John Michael Fitzpatrick, the planned announcement of which was abruptly called off earlier this month when university officials developed suspicions about the donor.

The Oregonian subsequently reported that Mr. Fitzpatrick filed for bankruptcy four years ago and did not appear to possess significant wealth. His business past includes running a check-cashing business, dealing Bitcoins, and peddling a plan to build a supercomputer in Portland.

Mark Rosenbaum, chairman of the PSU Foundation board, said Ms. Aylmer and Ms. Coppola were not fired but stepped down voluntarily. Their departures come as the university, which has been buffeted by reduced state funding and relatively minimal private giving compared to peer institutions, embarks on a $300-million fund drive.