State wonders: Where's John Kluge (and his wallet)?

When the new Virginia Civil Rights Memorial is unveiled in Richmond's Capitol Square July 21, Rita Moseley, 61, will be there with her new college degree. Moseley's degree in business administration comes courtesy of the Brown v. Board of Education scholarship program started in 2004. When the new Virginia Civil Rights Memorial is unveiled in Richmond's Capitol Square July 21, Rita Moseley, 61, will be there with her new college degree.

Moseley's degree in business administration comes courtesy of the Brown v. Board of Education scholarship program started in 2004. The idea is to pay tuitions for black students whose local schools in Prince Edward and Warren counties, as well as the cities of Norfolk and even Charlottesville, were closed in the name of Massive Resistance after the landmark 1954 ruling. In the case of Prince Edward, the closing lasted five years, effectively terminating the educational careers of some students who are now grown and in some cases retired.

The scholarship fund, however, still has some unfinished business. In 2004, former broadcasting tycoon John Kluge, a wealthy donor formerly of Charlottesville and now living in Palm Beach, Florida, encouraged the state to add $1 million to its initial appropriation of $50,000. He promised to match the state increase with a $1 million gift of his own. The state appropriated its share, but Kluge's million has yet to materialize.

"There's been some efforts to reach out to him," Governor Tim Kaine says. "Maybe we just don't know the right people to get to him."

Attempts to reach Kluge, who was out of the country recently, were unsuccessful. Meanwhile, frustration has been simmering as Kluge continues his philanthropy elsewhere. At a meeting of the Brown v. Board scholarship commission last year, a staffer produced a copy of USA Today reporting Kluge's $400 million donation to Columbia University– the fourth largest gift ever given to an American university.

"Maybe we'll have to get the FBI," jokes former commission chair and former Senator Benjamin J. Lambert III.

Some say the fuss over the Kluge donation is beside the point. Since the fund was initiated, only $463,000 of the $1.05 million has been given to 49 adult students.

"That much is never going to be eaten up by my classmates," Moseley says. The scholarship money is only redeemable at Virginia schools. "A lot are out of state because these schools closed and they did not return," she adds.

As this issue was going to press, the Hook reached longtime Kluge aide Jennefer Hirshberg. "If the commitment hasn't appeared, it's an oversight, and it will be taken care of," says Hirshberg.

–This story was actually written by Amy Biegelsen of Richmond's Style Weekly.

1 comment

Is it any wonder you never got your money? He won't even pay Metromedia (aka Bennigan's - Steak and Ale) employees the money he owes us that we worked for!! He sure does like to walk away when he thinks it's not worth it to HIM!!