According to an article by the New York Times, the Alavi Foundation—which donated $100,000 to Columbia around the time that the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke on campus in 2007—was accused of "illegally providing money and services to Iran" this month.
The Alavi Foundation is a nonprofit organization that has supported "educational programs related to Islamic and Iranian culture at schools and universities," according to the Times. Other institutions, such as Rutgers, Harvard, and Portland State, have also received donations from this foundation.
Speaking for Columbia, David Stone told the Times that this $100,000 grant was for a classical Persian language class, which soon received another $50,000 grant the next year. Stone said to the Times that Columbia has received about $332,000 in total over the past 25 years from the foundation for Persian language and culture classes.
Stone also said he believes that any link between this donation and the invitation to the Iranian president is "false, and does not stand up to rational scrutiny."
The Alavi Foundation has denied these charges.
Stay tuned for a longer news story about the way Columbia considers donations.