Governance agreement on funding signed

by Peter Charalambous | 2/24/17 2:10am

A governance agreement between the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and the Geisel School of Medicine signed Feb. 3 has established measures to ensure that funds donated to the NCCC will be used in accordance with donor intent.

“We have in place all of the mechanisms to ensure that the donors intentions are followed,” Dr. Christopher Amos, the interim director of the NCCC and Geisel chair of biomedical data science said.

This announcement follows months of controversy surrounding the NCCC, which began when Mark Israel, the longtime director of the NCCC, stepped down from his position last September. Israel later filed a lawsuit alleging he was forced out of his job because he objected to the diversion of $6 million raised for research to instead fund operating expenses. Israel claimed that $1.6 million of those funds were raised through the Prouty, an annual fundraiser for the NCCC.

Controversy continued when Thomas Donovan, director of the charitable trusts unit in the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, mailed the NCCC a letter concerning the use of charitable funds in late January. Donovan ultimately concluded that Dartmouth-Hitchcock did not break the law by diverting the 2015 Prouty funds.

In the aftermath of these controversies, NCCC created a governing agreement to ensure that donated funds would be properly allocated according to donor intent. While the policy itself has not been publicly released, a recent op-ed in the Valley News as well as interviews with administrators indicate the purpose of the agreement.

With the new agreement in place, donated funds will be placed in restricted accounts that can only be used for supportive patient services, research, development of new cancer therapy, education or recruitment of new faculty, Amos said. Furthermore, the director of the NCCC will report to the chief executive officer of DHMC as well as the dean of Geisel regarding the use of donations.

“[The agreement] gives comfort to our generous community to say ‘our funds are now protected and will be used exactly as we state they will,’” said Shelley Gilbert, the chairwoman of the Lebanon Friends of NCCC board of directors.

This assurance that funds will be used according to donor intent is especially pertinent to the Upper Valley community because of its involvement in the Prouty. Last year’s fundraiser raised $3 million for cancer research.

The Prouty is a charity event that occurs every summer and consists of runs, bike rides, walks and sports events.

Dartmouth’s student body plays a major role in fundraising, with Greek organizations raising around $110,000 each year.

“For us, it’s really about helping our community,” said Jase Davis ’18 of Theta Delta Chi fraternity, which has been one of the leading Greek houses in the fundraising efforts.

Administration from the NCCC as well as the Friends of the NCCC hope that the recent measures will prevent the misuse of any funds raised by the NCCC during the Prouty or through other donations.

“The donors can now be confident in knowing that that will happen because it is a written agreement,” Gilbert said.