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School Projects in Doubt due to Donor Filing for Bankruptcy


A common practice for many businesses and individuals is to make charitable contributions that can then be used as a tax deduction. Whether the motivation be a tax benefit or true philanthropy, many organizations depend on these contributions.

The contributions that Joe Kimmel has made to two local universities in western North Carolina are likely to come to an end soon as the philanthropic business man has filed for personal bankruptcy protection as well as protection for his company, Kimmel and Associates. Kimmel is the sole owner of Kimmel and Associates, a company that specializes in executive searches for the construction industry. Exactly how the two bankruptcy filings will affect the donations he has pledged to two universities remains to be seen.

Kimmel has pledged a combined $9 million to the University of North Carolina at Asheville and Western Carolina University. A new basketball arena was to be constructed in Asheville and a new construction college at WCU.

He made his pledge to Western Carolina University back in December of 2005. He was supposed to be donating $6.92 million to go to the construction of the Joseph W. Kimmel School of Construction Management, Engineering and Technology. The donations were to be spread over an eight year time frame.

Information has yet to be obtained about the $2 million Kimmel donated to the University of North Carolina in Asheville. The convocation center for the Center for Health and Wellness at the University is set to be named after Kimmel.

While Kimmel and his business will likely come out of the bankruptcy court in good shape the same may not be said for the construction projects already underway by both universities. It is almost a certainty that any future contributions will be out on hold as Kimmel and his company regain their financial footing. None of the nearly hundred employees of Kimmel and Associates are expected to lose their jobs.

At least three of the payments to Western Carolina have already been made. Bankruptcy law permits a Trustee to recover amounts contributed to a charity if the contributions were made with an intent to defraud creditors. While the true motivation of Kimmel's contributions are probably not of a fraudulent nature, it is certain that no future contributions will be made. This will leave the school scrambling to obtain additional funding to complete the projects.

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