Would John Emory Andrus approve of his $1 billion foundation’s pursuit of ‘social justice’?
‘It was just so off.” That’s what Kelly Cote Jasper recalls thinking when she attended the 100th anniversary of the Surdna Foundation a little over a year ago. Between the skits about white privilege and the speeches by progressive activists, she says, “I didn’t know what it represented, but it sure wasn’t John Emory Andrus.”
Ms. Jasper, who lives in Minneapolis, is a fifth-generation descendant of Andrus, who made his fortune as a chemical manufacturer and investor in New York before leaving 45% of his estate to start the Surdna Foundation (Surdna is Andrus spelled backward). But neither Ms. Jasper nor her cousin Carolyn Jones could square the $1 billion foundation’s current focus on “social justice” with a man who was by all accounts an unabashed capitalist.
So when Surdna—one of America’s 100 richest foundations—went on a search for a new president last year, the women objected to what they saw as the foundation’s abandonment of its founder’s vision. In a letter signed by two dozen family members, the cousins wrote that Andrus “entrusted his money and his legacy to his future descendants to carry on his wishes. We have let him down.”
James Piereson is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
Naomi Schaefer Riley is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons