Paul L. Caron
Dean


Friday, May 31, 2019

Alabama Donor Doesn't Want His $21 Million Back; He Wants Law School To Increase Enrollment And 'Tell U.S. News, F*** You.’

Alabama Logo (2018)Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Law.com, Culverhouse's Rift with Law School—Fomented by Abortion Law—Puts $27M Gift in Peril

The University of Alabama is poised to return more than $21 million given to the law school after a dispute seemingly touched off by the state’s new abortion law—a move that would strip the name Hugh Culverhouse from its law school. ...

Culverhouse on Wednesday called for students to boycott the University of Alabama in a bid to pressure state lawmakers to roll back the law, which bans abortion. But university officials responded that tensions between the law school and its namesake donor predate the abortion law and that they would not stand for donor meddling.

Culverhouse said in an interview Thursday that he has pushed law school dean Mark Brandon to increase the size of the student body and offer more scholarships to bring in students, but that the school has instead opted to maintain it class size in a bid to preserve its U.S. News & World Report ranking. (The school is currently ranked No. 25, up two spots from the previous year.) ...

University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis St. John on Tuesday sent a memo to the board of trustees recommending the return of Culverhouse’s entire donation and restoring the law school’s previous name: The University of Alabama School of Law. ...

Culverhouse said he was befuddled by St. John’s recommendation to return his donation and that attributing the move to earlier disputes is a red herring. “I don’t know why they came back and said, ‘We’re going to send this money back, but it has nothing to do with his stand on abortion’, ” Culverhouse said. “Bullshit.”

“I don’t know who or what has put a bug up the ass of the law school,” Culverhouse said. “It’s the rest of the campus where I’m saying, ‘If you are out of state and a have a daughter, think long and hard before you send her to Alabama. ...

But Culverhouse acknowledged existing tensions with Brandon centered on the number of students at the law school. ... Culverhouse said he would like the school to return to a student body of about 500 students, which has dwindled to 381 over the past eight years. But the school is resisting that expansion in order to maintain its U.S. News rank, he contends. ...

Culverhouse made his aspiration for a larger law school clear in a speech he delivered last fall when the school was officially renamed. He said he initially believed Brandon was working toward expanding the school’s enrollment but now thinks otherwise. ...

Culverhouse said Thursday that he doesn’t want his money back. ... “I want the university to be one of the best universities, but we’re going to do it the right goddamn way and compete with other people by doing the same thing every other law school does,” he said, noting that prominent public law schools including the University of Georgia School of Law and the University of Florida Levin College of Law have nearly twice and triple the number of students, respectively. “You’ll have a full boat of students and you’re going to teach them and tell U.S. News, ‘Fuck you.’ What’s wrong with that? You’re a state school. You need lawyers. And you need to teach them. 381 isn’t going to do it.”

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2019/05/alabama-donor-doesnt-want-his-21-million-back-he-wants-law-school-to-increase-enrollment-and-tell-us-1.html

Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

"“I want the university to be one of the best universities, but we’re going to do it the right goddamn way and compete with other people by doing the same thing every other law school does,” he said, noting that prominent public law schools including the University of Georgia School of Law and the University of Florida Levin College of Law have nearly twice and triple the number of students, respectively. “You’ll have a full boat of students and you’re going to teach them and tell U.S. News, ‘Fuck you.’ What’s wrong with that? You’re a state school. You need lawyers. And you need to teach them. 381 isn’t going to do it.”"

Translation: Alabama Law is losing money (which is fairly evident if you look at its decreasing enrollment, level faculty, and increasing tuition discounting), my gift will help stanch the bleeding, but you gotta stop letting the law school lose money and the way to do that is by increasing enrollment.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | May 31, 2019 8:39:48 AM

When Alabama had a problem with a previous major donor, they pulled his Tide Pride reserved seats and banned him from sporting events. Culverhouse is treading in dangerous territory. >> https://rolltide.com/sports/2016/6/10/tickets-tidepride-html

Posted by: Woody | May 31, 2019 9:53:08 AM

Guess that is why the IRS discerns a "completed gift." If the "strings" are negotiated on the front end...

Posted by: Tom N. | May 31, 2019 10:09:08 AM

Alabama's system of public higher education is among the most overbuilt in the country. The LAST thing they need is to enroll more people. They need to squeeze the pus out.

Posted by: Art Deco | May 31, 2019 4:06:44 PM

For $21 million I'll say whatever he wants.

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Jun 2, 2019 4:23:59 AM

I think UA just sent their own FU to Culverson. The school is probably more representative of the prevailing sentiment in the State than a single benefactor.
Perhaps he should bequeath a Tractor Maintenance School at Auburn?

Posted by: Spudislander | Jun 2, 2019 6:50:34 AM

The question this incident raises has been troubling me for years. Why, I ask myself, are rich people often such idiots? Bill Gates Jr., obscenely rich, is an example. Why did he help Common Core push an insanely stupid way of teaching arithmetic to millions of school kids? All anyone needs to do is find countries whose children do well in math and find out how they're taught. Methods like Singapore math are known to work.

Now we have this rich idiot thinking he has any business telling Alabama's law school how it ought to be run and telling a state legislature what laws it can and cannot pass. In that may lie the answer to my question. Rich people find it easy to surround themselves with 'yes people' who agree with everything they say. Until this Culverhouse clashed with Alabama's law school he probably hadn't had anyone tell him "that's stupid" in years.

I'm an Auburn graduate, but I must say that I've been quite impressed with how well Alabama's law faculty has responded to this attempt at bullying. Bravo for them!

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Jun 2, 2019 7:11:14 AM

Looks like both sides win. The donor gets his money back (Hmm.. wonder how that will be treated on his tax return.) The school gets to go its own way, good, bad, or ugly.

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Jun 2, 2019 10:59:06 AM