Judge rules for KU in Watkins Trust case
Douglas County District Court Judge Jack Murphy has denied plaintiffs’
final requests in a suit against KU and Bank of America regarding the
operation of Watkins and Miller scholarship halls.
In a decision dated Feb. 26, Judge Murphy ruled that the student plaintiffs
“do not have a right to control the day-to-day operations, maintenance,
renovations or improvements made to the halls.” That responsibility
resides with the university, and the trustee has the duty to review KU’s
use of the trust income for appropriate expenditures, the judge ruled.
The judge also denied the students’ request that the court establish
a committee of students and university administrators so that students
would have direct input into decisions regarding hall maintenance and
upkeep. The judge wrote that the court was convinced “students do
have other avenues to voice their concerns about maintenance of the halls”
through student proctors, the All Scholarship Hall Council and the Student
Housing Advisory Board.
The plaintiffs, who filed the case in early 2001, had alleged that the
bank and the university had mismanaged the trust, which was established
by KU benefactress Elizabeth Watkins in the 1930s. The student plaintiffs
in September 2003 abandoned all of their allegations and claims against
the bank and university. The court has now dismissed the students’
petition at their cost.