An unexpected e-mail arrived in the inboxes of New York area alumni Tuesday afternoon.

“In light of the extraordinary events that have rocked global financial markets this week, I write to express my deepest sympathy and concern for all members of the Georgetown University community impacted by the upheaval,” said the e-mail, signed by Georgetown’s Vice President for Advancement James Langley.

Although he said that 23 out of 30 responses received were appreciative and grateful, several alumni felt that they were receiving either a letter about a death or a reminder to continue donating to the university.

According to Langley, outside of Washington, D.C., the highest concentration of Georgetown alumni live in the greater New York area.

any of these graduates work in the financial sector and were affected directly or indirectly by the events that rocked Wall Street last week, including the disintegration of financial services firm Lehman Brothers, an unprecedented $85-billion government bailout of insurance corporation AIG and a single-day drop of 500 points in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Langley said he wrote the letter to assure alumni that Georgetown would attempt to help them in any way it can. “The mission of advancement is to help Hoyas in need,” Langley said.

“I cannot express how appreciated it is to receive words of support from Georgetown University,” said Joe Dillon (SLL ’89), who works as an assistant vice president of international and corporate affairs at AIG.

“It is nice to know that people are thinking kind thoughts about those of us who are working to save the industry we love,” Melissa Shaw (LAW ’03) said.

Some alumni felt that the Office of Advancement was dramatizing the effects of the downturn and sending a selfish message with financial contributions in mind.

“I’m sure you were well intentioned, but this is a letter reserved for the death of an individual, a loss of life, not the loss of material goods,” Dr. Richard D. Milone (COL ’59), a psychiatrist in Rye, N.Y., said.

ark D. Kingstone (LAW ’92), an associate for Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, saw the note as a reminder to donate to GU during difficult financial times. “What an utterly disingenuous and offensive e-mail. Your only concern is for alumni giving,” he said.

Langley said that the Office of Advancement often sends out letters to alumni. Some are personal, in the case of lost loved ones, and others are sent to larger groups of alumni including, for example, hurricane victims.

He stressed to those who perceived the letter as a means to gain funds that, in addition to fundraising, the mission of the Office of Advancement is alumni relations and community-building.

“We are looking for ways to help people with difficult moments,” he said.

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