A few days after the University of Mississippi announced that it was transitioning to an online-only class schedule to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, the school sent out an email asking people to consider including the institution in their wills. The email referred to the old expression that “change is the only constant in life,” and specifically cited the “health” and “financial” changes, among others, that many people experience. It then noted: “By adding a bequest in your will, you guarantee that the priorities in your life are matched to your legacy. Also, by expressing the philanthropic priorities of your life, you can continue investing in the students, faculty, mission and values of the University of Mississippi.” I think not, thank you. Our health and finances are changing, rapidly and for the worse.
The school apparently recognized the horrific timing of the missive, sent out as it was during the COVID-19 global pandemic, and quickly sent out an email reading: “We deeply apologize for a University Development email sent Tuesday morning dealing with estate-planning information. This message was a previously scheduled newsletter focused on providing guidance for planned giving. The delivery of this message at this time was insensitive in the current climate. We have adjusted our communication protocols to align them with the emergency situation facing our university and nation, and we are sorry for the distress that this message caused.”
I’m sure the school will send out another heart-felt, follow-up email soon, reading: “Again, we are frightfully sorry about the original email asking you to put us in your will. It was clearly in bad taste, considering the global pandemic we are all currently experiencing. We assure you we are not hypocritical, greedy little pointy-headed left-wing monsters bashing capitalism while clamoring for your money. You can be certain it won’t happen again. After all, we are an institution of higher learning and, as such, learn from our mistakes, ha, ha, ha. But, if you happen to be feeling a bit off, maybe a bit feverish or short of breath, we do hope you’ll consider donating whatever you can to the noble cause of a great college such as the University of Mississippi. Whatever you can afford to invest, whether it be $50, $1,000, $10,000, your entire estate, or even an internal organ or two, will be greatly valued. Stay safe. Cordially, University Development.”