Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Guarded Secret

Julius A. Hallgarten’s dying wish was to leave an endowment of $20,000 for FAU to fund an annual chess tournament for students. Little did he know that 29 years later, a chess team adviser would be fighting for the tournament to even exist.

That adviser is Bill McLean, a systems analyst at FAU. When he took the adviser position in 2003, he had no idea that $20,000 had been given to FAU as an endowment in 1974. He had not been told about the gift’s purpose, either.
“[I was] a student here [in] 1974 and hadn’t seen any sort of chess activity. I heard about [the endowment] in 2003. It seemed like it was a closely guarded secret,” says McLean.

Hallgarten, who was a Boca Raton resident, specified the purpose of the endowment in his will: to hold an annual chess tournament on the Boca campus with monetary prizes, titled the Julius A. Hallgarten Awards, given to the winning students.

However, school documents can’t prove that the money was ever used for this purpose, so McLean wants to know where that money is.

FAU officials claim that the money has been put to good use.
“There was an adviser [for the Chess Club] in 1975 who held tournaments,” says Kristine Gobbo, the assistant vice president and press secretary of Media Relations at FAU. “For a period, [the Hallgarten money] was used for tournament expenses, … but I don’t think they were ever specifically called ‘Hallgarten Tournaments.'”

But when McLean began to inquire about the money, the FAU Foundation, which handles the Hallgarten fund, was only able to provide him with expense information from the last 10 years.

The money was managed properly, according to the FAU Foundation.
Although the endowment might not be widely known among students, a famous grand master who passed away in 2005 was not shy about spreading the news.
“I heard about [the Hallgarten fund] from Zvi Roth, a professor in electrical engineering, and he told me about the Hallgarten endowment,” says McLean. “He mentioned that there used to be a famous chess grand master, Arnold Denker, who used to be a member of the Pompano Beach Chess Club, and he was telling people that there was money for chess at FAU.”

After becoming the adviser six years ago, McLean began questioning the FAU Foundation. He has subsequently received three travel reimbursements for the Chess Club from the endowment.
“The university managed and authorized appropriate expenses from the fund, all expenses going toward scholarships for chess-playing students, awards for chess tournaments, chess tournament registration and travel,” according to the foundation.

The expense information given to McLean details that $8,583 was spent in the last decade for those reasons, but only $175 of that amount was given as awards.

Julius Hallgarten’s will and wishes express a different use of the money.

His will, which was given to FAU in 1975, states that he wanted his gift of $20,000 to be used “for the purpose of stimulating and encouraging a greater interest in the game of chess. … In order to accomplish this goal … I request that there be an annual invitational chess tournament at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.”

But Hallgarten did not dictate that the money should be used for scholarships or
travel reimbursements.

The FAU Foundation has no records of a tournament being held. Even so, the will explains that $800 should be used for first, second and third place awards, but according to the FAU foundation, only a fraction of that has been used for award purposes.

The endowment, which has been sitting in a bank account since 1974, is now worth $63,934, but the FAU Foundation states that only $8,100 can be spent on a chess tournament.

Foundation officials, McLean and Chess Club members will meet soon to discuss using the donation for a 2009 Hallgarten Tournament.
“They like playing hardball with it,” says McLean about the fund.

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