TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Alabama Returns $21.5 Million, Strips Donor's Name From Law School After His Call For Boycott Over State's New Abortion Law

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  AL.com, UA Trustees Return $21.5 Million Donation, Rename Law School:

University of Alabama trustees voted Friday to return a record $21.5 million donation from controversial donor Hugh Culverhouse Jr. and rename the law school. Culverhouse had originally pledged a total of $26.5 million.

Culverhouse last week called for a boycott of Alabama — school and state — over the state’s latest near-total abortion ban law.

The UA System quickly responded saying the university and Culverhouse have been in an ongoing dispute over the millions he has donated to the law school unrelated to the abortion legislation, vice chancellor for communications Kellee Reinhart said last week. In an emailed statement, Reinhart said Culverhouse asked the school to return $10 million, “repeating numerous demands about the operations of the University of Alabama School of Law."

Culverhouse issued this statement after the trustees vote Friday:

“I expected this response from UA. I will not allow my family’s name to be associated with an educational system that advocates a state law which discriminates against women, disregards established Federal law and violates our Constitution. I want to make clear that I never demanded that $21.5 million be refunded and wonder if the University is attempting to silence my opinions by their quick response. I will not be silenced. Once again, I call on students to protest and reconsider their educational options in Alabama. I also appeal to out-of-state and international businesses to consider the consequences of conducting business in a state that discriminates against women and defies constitutional law. These boycotts and acts of resistance should remain in effect until the State of Alabama reverses the illegal anti-abortion statute.”

Washington Post op-ed by Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr.:  I Gave the University of Alabama $26.5 million. They Gave It Back When I Spoke Out About Abortion.

Additional media coverage:

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2019/06/alabama-may-returns-215-million-strips-donors-name-from-law-school-after-his-call-for-boycott-over-s.html

Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

Let's see:

1) AL Law's 1L enrollment has dropped from 160 to 118 since the start of the decade, even though they lowered their LSAT splits to attempt to keep enrollment up (applications have declined 18% since 2011),

2) They considerably increased both the percentage of students receiving tuition discounts and the amounts discounted, from 46.2% of the student body receiving a median discount of $14k/year in 2011 to 69% of the student body receiving a median discount of $21k/year in 2018,

3) Meanwhile in-state tuition only increased from $18k/year to ~$24k/year over that period and out-of-state tuition from $30k/year to ~$42k/year,

4) The number of full-time faculty has stayed level while the overall number of faculty has increased, and

5) The law school built a new wing in 2007, just before everything went wrong in law school land, at a cost of $13.5 million.

Does this sound like the portrait of a law school that can afford to return >$20 million? Because it sure looks to me like they're in the red. But hey, it's probably worth it to commit economic seppuku to own the libs, amirite?

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jun 8, 2019 7:52:29 AM

I knew accepting the donation was a huge mistake as soon as I read the mouthful that became the law school’s new name.

See if you can find a rich donor with a short name like George Bush; you certainly don’t want any donors with “Jr.” in their name, as the commas are an unmitigated nightmare.

Posted by: Anon | Jun 8, 2019 8:02:01 AM

From what I've read, Mr. Culverhouse seems nasty, belligerent and overly concerned with the minutia of operations and administration of the law school itself. I can't blame 'Bama for preferring to cut ties rather than suffer his out-sized ego. No amount of money is worth it.

Posted by: Anon | Jun 8, 2019 10:27:13 AM

Well, that didn't take long. It took less time to strip the donor's name off the law school than for lefties to pull down a Confederate statute. Nick Saban brings more money to the university and he keeps his mouth shut. Perhaps Alabama should pull the football ticket package from Culverhouse and pass it to one of the 30,000 people in line who will donate without trying to harm the school.

Posted by: Woody | Jun 8, 2019 11:03:16 AM

I suspect the law school has been looking for a reason to be rid of this guy for a long time. This rant of his provided them with an excellent opportunity.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Jun 8, 2019 3:17:58 PM

Alabama is a parody of what happens to a Law School when your only goal is moving up US News. Law isn't football (yet).

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Jun 9, 2019 3:10:18 AM

One can see the right's *commitment* to free speech in this comment thread. How dare a public law school's biggest donor open his mouth!

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jun 9, 2019 12:44:29 PM

UN, the facts seen to belie your reasoning, such as it is.

Mike L, I'm not sure I understand your comment. If Alabama's chief objective was to move up in the rankings wouldn't they take the dough no matter what?

Posted by: Mike Petrik | Jun 10, 2019 5:03:26 AM