"One of the flashpoints in the debate over whether colleges and universities should ever sell significant works of art was resolved Thursday -- with Brandeis University pledging to strengthen the Rose Art Museum rather than sell its masterpieces.
"There have been several cases in recent years of colleges trying to sell or being pressured to sell parts of valuable collections. Fisk University remains in a legal battle over its desire to sell (or to partly sell) a $30 million collection of modern paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe and others. The University of Iowa this year fended off calls for it to sell Jackson Pollock's "Mural," an 8-by-20 foot painting that is considered one of the masterpieces of abstract art and of modern American art. Some estimated that the painting could have brought in as much as $140 million.
"The university made the announcement in January 2009, with officials citing a major hit taken by the endowment and severe budget problems facing Brandeis. “These are extraordinary times,” said a statement from Jehuda Reinharz, then the university's president, as the decision was announced. “We cannot control or fix the nation’s economic problems. We can only do what we have been entrusted to do -- act responsibly with the best interests of our students and their futures foremost in mind.”