Prepare to feel the burn.
The lingering questions about Burlington College’s finances are based, in large part, on a cryptic three-page spreadsheet.
The spreadsheet — a list of confirmed and potential donors to the college’s 2010 capital campaign using each donor’s initials — helped Burlington College and then-president Jane O’Meara Sanders to finance the purchase of a new $10 million lakefront campus.
At least four of the donors included on the spreadsheet, however, have challenged the listed amount of their donations. The document now appears to be wrapped up in an ongoing FBI investigation about whether the donations were exaggerated to mislead the bank.
One former member of Burlington College’s board of trustees, David V. Dunn, said the board began to doubt the veracity of some of the capital campaign donations in the summer of 2011, and he says the doubts led to the removal of Sanders as president that fall. Dunn said the college’s finance office indicated that actual donations were less than what was originally represented.
A second former trustee, Jonathan Leopold, denied the account and said the board had no doubts about the approximately $2.6 million in listed capital campaign pledges. Leopold said the board was more concerned that additional fundraising efforts had stalled.
The college needed to raise $6 million to support the debt from the $10 million property purchase. College leaders also planned to renovate the spacious new campus, which would attract new students and their tuition dollars. The plan was to double enrollment.