Saturday, July 13, 2019
Following up on my previous posts (links below): Martin Morse Wooster (Capital Research Center), The Real Story Behind Alabama’s Return of $26m Gift to Law School Donor:
What can donors and colleges learn from the Culverhouse episode?
First, the issue of abortion is a smokescreen that played no role in the arguments Culverhouse had with the University of Alabama.
Second, the hiring and firing of faculty is a bright line that no donor can cross. Donors should realize that they can have no say in hiring professors.
Third, Culverhouse should have realized that just because he put up a lot of money for an endowed chair that the money could not buy talent. Maybe the big name constitutional law professors were happy where they were. It’s also plausible that the finalists for the chair were the most qualified ones willing to move.
Fourth, the University of Alabama did a poor job in communicating with their most generous donor. The school was right to say that Culverhouse couldn’t just walk into classes unannounced. But why couldn’t they ask professors if Culverhouse could sit in? Why couldn’t there be a day where Culverhouse observes three classes, gives a talk in the afternoon, and then hangs out at a coffeehouse with students?
Universities have to figure out how to have donors involved in giving while making sure that academic freedom, which includes the power to hire and fire, is respected. I’m glad that the University of Alabama published their correspondence with Hugh Culverhouse, but the emails show they did a poor job in dealing with a very generous—and very demanding—donor.
Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:
- University Of Alabama Law School Receives $26.5 Million Naming Gift; Donor Hopes For Top 10-15 Ranking (Sept. 28, 2018)
- $26.5 Million Donor Completes Naming Gift Ahead Of Schedule Due To Alabama Law School's Rise In The U.S. News Rankings (Mar. 30, 2018)
- Alabama May Return $21.5 Million, Strip Donor's Name From Law School After His Call For Boycott Due To State's New Abortion Law (May 30, 2019)
- Alabama Returns $21.5 Million, Strips Donor's Name From Law School After His Call For Boycott Over State's New Abortion Law (June 8, 2019)
- Alabama Releases Emails Showing Donor Used Abortion Law As Preemptive Attack After Law School Decided To Return $21.5 Million Gift Due To His Meddling In Admissions, Scholarships, Faculty Hiring, Dean's Job Status (June 10, 2019)
- Krotoszynski: Sorry, Hugh Culverhouse. Alabama Law School Class Sizes Aren’t Your Call.(June 12, 2019)
- An Abortion Red Herring In Alabama: The Real Story Behind Hugh Culverhouse’s Rejected Donation To The State Law School (June 13, 2019)
- What The Alabama Returned Gift Episode Can Teach Us About Donor Relations (June 17, 2019)