« Ind. Gov't. - An overview of the brouhaha caused by the deletion of a single provision in HB 1380 | Main | Ind. Gov't. - Driving on a suspended license termed “a crime of poverty.” »

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - Still more on "Purdue University Rejects Donor's Reference to 'God's physical laws' on Plaque Honoring Parents' Legacy" [Updated]

Updating this post from March 2nd, a settlement has been reached between the donor and Purdue University, according to a news release from Liberty Institute. Purdue University approved the following wording to appear on the plaque of alumnus Dr. Michael McCracken:

“Dr. Michael McCracken: ‘To all those who seek to better the world through the understanding of God's physical laws and innovation of practical solutions.’ Dr. Michael and Mrs. Cindy McCracken present this plaque in honor of Dr. William ‘Ed’ and Glenda McCracken and all those similarly inspired to make the world a better place.”
The phrase "God's physical laws," which was the basis for the earlier rejection, remains.

Dr. McCracken's accompanying statement concludes:

“We are also especially grateful to the Liberty Institute and Covington & Burling LLP for providing their time and resources to help us resolve this issue. Without people serving as they have, most would not have the resources to have their voices heard.”
The amount of the gift to Purdue was $12,500. It is unclear from the release re whether Covington & Burling's services were donated.

[Updated on March 6th] The Lafayette Journal Courier has a story this morning by Hayleigh Colombo that begins:

Purdue University has decided after all to allow a donor to reference “God’s physical laws” on a plaque recognizing the alumnus’ donation to the university.

The West Lafayette research university will avoid a First Amendment fight between itself and a donor, engineering graduate Michael McCracken, who alleged that Purdue was violating his rights by not allowing him to reference God on a plaque commemorating his parents. The plaque, in a renamed conference room in Herrick Laboratories, was offered to him after McCracken made a $12,500 donation to the university in 2012.

The argument came to a head last week when Purdue’s legal counsel, Steve Schultz, said Purdue’s status as a public institution opened the door to a costly and lengthy legal battle if Purdue accepted McCracken’s proposed language for the plaque, which referenced “God’s physical laws.”

McCracken and his lawyers argued that the speech would be considered “private speech” and would not put the university in danger.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 5, 2014 07:09 PM
Posted to Indiana Government