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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

As budget cuts loom, FSU takes $10-mil gift from "Chainsaw Al" Dunlap



With state universities facing tens of millions in budget cuts when lawmakers meet for next month's special session, it's hard to pass up a hefty private donation.

FSU's latest donation comes from "Chainsaw Al" Dunlap, the take-no-prisoners former CEO of Sunbeam Inc. Dunlap was fired from the now-defunct Boca Raton company in 1998 amid multimillion-dollar allegations of fraud and mismanagement by Dunlap and others. But you wouldn't know that by the press release announcing Dunlap's recent $10-million gift to FSU.

In announcing the money for a "Student Success Center" bearing Dunlap's name, FSU folks make only a vague and glossy reference to his troubled corporate past: "During his business career, Dunlap was a top CEO, running nine companies in the United States, Australia and England. He never shied away from the controversy that so often comes with leadership."

The release quotes Dunlap as saying: "Criticism is the price of leadership, and I think it's a price well paid."

He paid, alright. After he was fired in June 1998, the courts ordered Dunlap to pay out $15-million in the settlement of a class-action lawsuit by Sunbeam shareholders who lost millions when officers inflated stock prices and gave misleading sales and earnings information.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 12:56pm]


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