The courting of Cope: How we reported

DKS editors

No university employees associated with the Cope Court donation spoke to the Daily Kent Stater for this article, despite numerous attempts over two weeks. One trustee hung up his phone after one minute and another emailed one sentence saying she agreed with the university statement; the rest never talked at all.

The university administrators and board members featured in this article were all told of what would be published and ignored attempts for comment.

Information was gathered solely through obtaining public records, including hundreds of pages of emails, with attachments, sent to and from university administrators, and audio and documents from the Dec. 13 board of trustees meeting.

On the afternoon of Friday, Jan. 27, Vincent emailed Daily Kent Stater reporter Doug Brown for a meeting first thing the next Monday morning with Nielsen, Finn, Harvey, Willis Walker, vice president for human resources and chief university counsel, and Charlene Reed, secretary to the Board of Trustees and chief of staff to the president. The Stater declined that meeting because they were prohibited from recording it on-camera and several records requests were not yet fulfilled.

Vincent and Neumann have since refused every interview attempt, even after the Stater promised to only record the audio to ensure accuracy. Numerous phone calls and emails to individually reach Lefton, Finn, Nielsen and Geis for comment all went ignored.

The Stater also contacted each board member through multiple emails and left messages for those with listed telephone numbers.

On Feb. 1, Vincent emailed the following statement: “The acceptance by the university of the Cope Family gift complied with all existing donor gift acceptance and naming rights policies. It also followed the normal submission process with the usual level of detail being provided to the Board of Trustees. The Advancement and Athletics administrators who worked with the donor family

considered the available public information regarding Mr. Cope. Their interpretation of the record was that the litigation is a decade old; he has made the required restitution; and no criminal charges have been made against him.”

“Beyond this statement, the university has nothing else to say at this time,” she wrote. She wouldn’t say what public information was considered or if they knew if he made the required restitution.

On Feb. 10, the Stater sent an email to Vincent, Neumann, Nielsen, Finn, Geis, Reed, Lefton and all 11 trustees, attempting for the last time to seek comment from anybody before this article was published.

Only Neumann responded.

“Just to clarify, the Board Chair speaks on behalf of the entire Board of Trustees, therefore her statement reflects comments from the entire Board. Similarly the university statement reflects the position of all those involved,” Neumann wrote.

Still, nobody from the university has answered questions.