Where's the $$ Ray Charles gave ASU? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Where's the $$ Ray Charles gave ASU?

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November 10, 2006

Albany - - Three years have passed since music great Ray Charles donated $3,000,000 to Albany State University in hopes of re-structuring the school's Fine Art's Department.

The school hasn't even begun constructing a new building, but officials there hope a change in a state policy may help them do it soon.  

Many students remember Ray Charles' $3,000,000 donation to Albany State, but they say they haven't seen where the money's gone.

"There has become a problem," says music education major Dominique Lane.

He feels a new building is what his department needs most.

"It's pretty much packed, pretty tight in there. Practice room wise, just being able to have your own personal space."

School administrators say when Charles donated the money, it wasn't enough to re-build a state-of-the-art facility they want, so they put the money into the school's general fund, used for student scholarships and activities.

ASU then asked the state for more money to help them re-build the fine arts department. But the state hasn't approved that extra funding.

That could change soon says administrator Connie Leggett.

"The advantage is we will get money every year for that period of time." 

Leggett says a change in a state policy, giving universities more flexibility in how they spend money could help ASU meet the goal.

"The Fine Arts building is one that's needed, however, for a stretch of 3 to 6 years, we have to make sure that if we allocate all of those funds for the building, that we'll be able to maintain some of the other buildings and do some of the things we may have on our plate."

The state will review schools' requests for new buildings next year, but under the new policy schools wouldn't see that extra money until 2008 or 2009.

For many students, the gift has become a dream deferred.

"It's a lot of different majors, english majors, foreign language majors in one building and the building is not really large enough for all of us to be in."

For now, they'll just have to stay put.  

The Board of Regents approved its new policy Thursday giving the state's colleges a set amount of money to spend on new buildings during a 6 year period. Albany State expects to receive $23,000,000.

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