- Associated Press - Thursday, March 6, 2014

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Purdue University has reversed course and decided to allow an inscription on a dedication plaque to two donors that includes a reference to “God’s physical laws.”

Purdue graduates Michael and Cynthia McCracken had threatened to sue the university unless it accepted the language on a plaque recognizing their $12,500 donation to the school in 2012.

The plaque will be located in a renamed conference room in the campus’ Herrick Laboratories.

Purdue’s legal counsel, Steve Schultz, said last week that the school’s status as a public institution opened the door to a costly legal battle if the plaque included the proposed reference to God because it could be considered a government endorsement of religion.

Michael McCracken and his lawyers argued that the speech would be considered “private speech” and would not put the university in danger, The Journal & Courier reported (https://on.jconline.com/1fKbYlq ).



The McCrackens said in a statement Wednesday that they “are joyful that we’ve been able to reach a resolution on this matter.”

“I believe that there are certain situations in life where one must decide if they are going to stand for their principles - regardless of whether or not it is the easiest or most convenient option. That is why my wife and I felt it so important to resolve this issue instead of ignoring it,” their statement said.

Amy Noah, Purdue’s vice president for development, said in a statement that the university “certainly never intended to get into a disagreement with a valued donor or inadvertently expose Purdue to a potential legal crossfire.”

Noah also said the school had been considering ways to “accommodate” McCracken since late January and is “very pleased to have achieved that outcome and remain grateful for his generosity.”

The finalized plaque states in part: “Dr. Michael McCracken: ‘To all those who seek to better the world through the understanding of God’s physical laws and innovation of practical solutions.’”

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Information from: Journal and Courier, https://www.jconline.com

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