Portland State U. Almost — Almost — Got a $100-Million Donation

[Updated (8/21/2015, 11:17 p.m.) with details about the unraveling of the would-be donation.]

Talk about a tough break.

Portland State University was on the verge of securing a $100-million donation from an anonymous donor — even going so far as to plan the details of the news conference announcing the gift — but the deal didn’t go through.

College officials told The Oregonian they were still in talks with the donor but acknowledged that the donation may be dead. “Ultimately, it’s up to a donor to make a gift or not,” a university spokesman, Chris Broderick, told the newspaper in a statement.

According to the newspaper, the would-be donor is a former Portland State student, and the donation would have nearly doubled the institution’s endowment.

On Friday night, the newspaper reported that the would-be donor, John Michael Fitzpatrick, “turns out to be a tech promoter with hardly any obvious assets and a history of insolvency.” Mr. Fitzpatrick reportedly endured bankruptcies in 2011 and 2012, failed in a bid for the U.S. Senate, and became ensnared in controversy when he produced an anti child-pornography documentary that contained explicit images.

University officials were red-faced over how badly they had been duped.

“In retrospect, we should have taken more time to review Fitzpatrick’s offer,” President Wim Wiewel wrote the university’s trustees. “And we are taking a hard look at our internal procedures to ensure this is a one-time occurrence.”

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