'A very unusual' librarian donated his entire $4 million estate to his university upon his death -- and it spent $1 million on a football scoreboard

A University of New Hampshire librarian, who spent a lifetime living frugally, surprised the school by donating his entire estate — worth $4 million.

But then UNH decided to allocate only $100,000 to the library, $2.5 million to a career center, and $1 million to a new video scoreboard at the football stadium, The Washington Post reported.

Robert Morin, who died a little over a year ago, graduated from UNH in 1963 and worked in the school’s Dimond Library as a cataloger for nearly 50 years, according to UNH.

Morin lived alone, spent little of his income on himself, and saved instead.

“He would have some Fritos and a Coke for breakfast, a quick cheese sandwich at the library, and at home would have a frozen dinner because the only thing he had to work with was a microwave. He was a very unusual gentleman,” Edward Mullen, Morin’s longtime financial adviser, told The Boston Globe, who first reported the story of Morin’s remarkable gift.

Morin also had a voracious appetite for reading and watching videos. A UNH press release read:

“Morin also had a passion for watching movies, and from 1979 to 1997 he watched more than 22,000 videos. Following this feat, he switched his attention to books. He read, in chronological order, every book published in the US from 1930 to 1940 — excluding children’s books, textbooks, and books about cooking and technology. At the time of his death he had reached 1,938, the year of his birth.”

Many people expressed their outrage at UNH’s decision to use such a large portion of the donation for the scoreboard, saying it was out of line with Morin’s passions and commitment to the library:

The university explained its actions in a statement on Friday, saying that Morin developed an interest for football in the last 15 months he was alive.

“Despite being asked many times over many years by his financial advisor it was Mr. Morin’s firm decision to designate only a small portion of his estate to the library and to leave the rest unrestricted for the university to use as it saw fit,” the statement read. “Yes, we have heard from people who disagree with how the gift was used. We respect and acknowledge that feedback but it does not change our decision.”

Morin did technically donate the majority of his $4 million gift as unrestricted money for UNH. The only earmark he included was the $100,000 for the library, and the remaining $400,000 doesn’t have an allocation yet.

“Unrestricted gifts give the university the ability to use the funds for our highest priorities and emerging opportunities,” Deborah Dutton, president of the UNH Foundation, said in the original release. “This is an extraordinary gift that comes at a critical time for launching a number of initiatives that are only able to move forward because of his generosity.”

But many alumni thought a $1 million scoreboard was a wasteful way to spend the librarian’s gift.

Alumna Claire Cortese wrote a blog post vilifying the school’s decision, identifying UNH’s art and photography departments, and student publications — which have received funding cuts in recent years — as more worthy recipients of Morin’s money. She also drew attention to the fact that the school just completed a $25 million renovation of the football stadium.

“Ultimately, the school’s administrative decision to spend a quarter of Morin’s generous donation on a inconsequential trinket for the athletic department is a complete disgrace to the spirit and memory of Robert Morin,” Cortese wrote. “As a wildcat, I feel deeply saddened, and honestly completely ashamed of my alma mater for this.”

Read The Boston Globe’s full story here »

Read The Washington Post’s update on the allocation here »

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