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College is agent for ship
Despite resolution, college says it won't be responsible for VDOT matching funds for slave-ship grant By KELLY HANNON and ELIZABETH PEZZULLO

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Date published: 3/16/2004


Mary Washington College will not use any college money to pay for a slave-ship replica at the U.S. National Slavery Museum.

Despite a resolution saying the college will pay 20 percent of the initial costs, its chief financial officer said it would only serve as fiscal agent for the project.

On Feb. 20, the museum applied for a $686,400 state grant to rebuild a Spanish slave ship from the early 1800s.

To get the grant, the museum must list a fiscal agent or co-sponsor to raise 20 percent of the replica's cost, estimated at $171,600. Eventually, the entire project will total $4.4 million.

The college is the grant's sponsor and will serve strictly as fiscal agent, said Richard Hurley, executive vice president and chief financial officer at MWC.

"We've been asked by the group responsible for the slavery museum to assist them in the project, and the role that we're going to play is one of fiscal agent," Hurley said. "The funds come from outside sources, not us."

However, a Feb. 12 resolution signed by MWC President William Anderson states, "Mary Washington College hereby agrees to pay a minimum 20 percent of the total cost for planning and design, right of way, and construction of this project, and that, if Mary Washington College subsequently elects to cancel this project, Mary Washington College hereby agrees to reimburse the Virginia Department of Transportation for the total amount of costs expended by the Department through the date the Department is notified of such cancellation."

Hurley said the resolution's phrasing raised questions for him initially, but he knows the college is not responsible for contributing any money.

"If they don't come up with the money, the project doesn't move forward," Hurley said.

President Anderson said the resolution is a "boilerplate" form state agencies use to outline endorsements in grant applications.

"That's standard language that's required for the grant process," Anderson said. "We were assured, before we ever went to the table, they'd already have that money in hand. We're not obligated for anything."

The Pan American-Pan African Association Inc. has confirmed it will put up the $171,600 matching funds, according to a grant application filed with VDOT by the slavery museum and college.

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