Campus & Community

Sutton Island statement

2 min read

There were two properties sold in Maine. Both were seaside houses for faculty to use for relaxation and retreat. They were on Sutton Island, near Bar Harbor. One was a gift from George L. Paine made in approximately 1958, the other from William M. Kendall, in approximately 1942. Mr. Paine’s gift gave Harvard discretion to sell the property after a period of time, and could be used “to the general purposes of the University.” Mr. Kendall’s gift was restricted in use for faculty “rest, recreation and study.” After years of consideration and subsidizing their costs, Harvard sold the two Sutton Island properties in 2007.

The decision to sell the two houses was based on mounting costs and the short 8 to 12 weeks per year of use by a relatively small group of people. Funds generated by market rate rental fees and the endowments left to maintain the properties were not enough to cover needed repairs. The properties were very isolated which added to the costs of general management and maintenance. The University did not think it was appropriate to continue to allocate general University funds.

Harvard asked the Maine Attorney General for a ruling to allow Harvard to sell the Kendall property in a way that could maintain the original intent of the gift. In accordance with the Maine Probate Court order of January 23, 2007, Harvard was authorized to sell the Kendall property and apply the proceeds from the sale to a separate endowed fund to be used “exclusively to support the rest, recreation and sabbatical study of Harvard University faculty, including lodging and travel expenses but excluding general operating expenses of the University.” That fund has been established.

The University took a fiscally responsible action in accordance with the gifts’ terms while assuring that the original intent of the gifts continued to be honored. The University periodically evaluates all of its property portfolio in relation to the core mission of the university in a manner that respects donors’ original intentions as the needs of the university evolve.