BOSTON -- In a highly unusual gesture in an era when even prestigious Ivy League institutions are counting pennies, Yale University said yesterday it would return a $20 million gift to Texas financier and Yale alumnus Lee M. Bass.
The announcement followed a series of articles in the Wall Street Journal capped by a scathing editorial yesterday that lambasted the Connecticut university for failing to implement a Western civilization curriculum mandated in the 1991 donation from Mr. Bass, a 1979 Yale graduate. The Journal said Mr. Bass demanded a full refund after reaching "the logical conclusion about Yale's treatment of his endowment."
The final blow apparently came when Yale refused to honor Mr. Bass' request to approve faculty appointments to the Bass Program of Common Study in Western Civilization.
Mr. Bass envisioned the curriculum as focusing on the ancient thinkers, artists and writers who shaped the European culture on which much of modern American society is based.
Faculty members at Yale and elsewhere in the Ivy League said there was opposition to the focus of the program among some professors and students who saw it as a traditional "dead white European male" academic agenda.
Instead, these factions favored a more multicultural approach that would emphasize the historical contributions of minorities and women.