University of Alabama rejects $26M gift after abortion flap

MGN Online

The University of Alabama gave back a philanthropist’s $26.5 million donation and took his name off the law school Friday, a week after he called on students to boycott the institution over the state’s new abortion ban.

Posted: Jun 8, 2019 5:20 PM

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — The University of Alabama gave back a philanthropist’s $26.5 million donation and took his name off the law school Friday, a week after he called on students to boycott the institution over the state’s new abortion ban.

Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr., a 70-year-old Florida real estate investor, said he has no doubt the board of trustees acted in response to his remarks, and he complained that the state of Alabama is only reinforcing its reputation as “the land of the backward,” full of “hicks.”

University officials emphatically denied the decision had anything to do with Culverhouse’s stand on the abortion law and said it was prompted instead by his attempts to dictate how the money should be spent. They did not elaborate.

Culverhouse’s pledge, announced in September, was the biggest contribution ever made to the university. In return, the law school was renamed the Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law.

Within minutes of the trustees’ vote, a maintenance crew had removed his name and the university had wired him a $21.5 million refund of the money he had already given the university toward fulfilling his pledge.

Alabama’s toughest-in-the-nation abortion ban, passed last month and set to take effect in November, would make terminating a pregnancy a crime punishable by 10 years to life in prison for the provider, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Last week, Culverhouse urged students to boycott the university over the ban, saying: “I don’t want anybody to go to that law school, especially women, until the state gets its act together.

Hours later, Alabama announced it was considering giving back his money — a move it said was underway even before Culverhouse spoke out.

University Chancellor Finis E. St. John IV said Friday that Culverhouse’s expectations for the use of the gift were “inconsistent with the essential values of academic integrity and independent administration” at Alabama.

St. John said that “for these reasons and for these reasons alone,” he recommended returning Culverhouse’s gift.

Culverhouse acknowledged telling the university that the law school should admit more students and that his donation was intended to fund scholarships to achieve that. But he said he thought the matter had been resolved.

The businessman and attorney did not attend Alabama, but his parents did, and the business school bears the name of Hugh Culverhouse Sr., a wealthy tax lawyer, developer and philanthropist in his own right who owned the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After the trustees’ vote, the younger Culverhouse said that he and father had donated to the university over the years in part to rid Alabama of a certain stereotype: “We are the land of the backward, we are hicks, we lack the sophistication to see two sides to an argument.”

“What have you done Alabama? You have effectively put a 12-gauge in your mouth and pulled the trigger,” Culverhouse said. “You have reinforced that horrible stereotype that my father and I have tried so hard to eliminate.”

Robert Kelchen, a professor of higher education at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, said it is unusual for a gift of this magnitude to be returned so quickly, adding that disputes of this sort typically develop over years.

Kelchen said the dust-up “could pressure more politically liberal donors to cut off support to the university.”

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 15229

Reported Deaths: 723
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds99925
Lauderdale73561
Madison72023
Scott65012
Neshoba63038
Jones59825
Forrest55338
DeSoto5337
Rankin4217
Leake42112
Holmes39728
Copiah3104
Jackson30513
Attala29216
Yazoo2734
Newton2714
Leflore25831
Harrison2577
Lincoln25628
Monroe25525
Lamar2355
Oktibbeha23512
Lowndes2119
Pearl River20931
Pike20211
Adams19615
Noxubee1856
Wayne1771
Warren1719
Washington1687
Covington1652
Bolivar16011
Jasper1574
Smith15011
Lee1496
Kemper14411
Clarke14318
Chickasaw13312
Lafayette1314
Coahoma1214
Carroll11711
Marion1159
Clay1124
Winston1121
Claiborne1112
Lawrence1021
Simpson1010
Yalobusha905
Hancock9011
Tate891
Grenada893
Wilkinson889
Itawamba877
Union835
Marshall833
Montgomery831
Sunflower813
Jefferson Davis772
Tippah7311
Panola703
Webster691
Calhoun644
Humphreys607
Amite601
Walthall550
Tunica543
Prentiss523
Perry503
Choctaw432
Jefferson421
Tishomingo320
Pontotoc323
Stone300
Franklin282
Tallahatchie271
Quitman260
George251
Alcorn171
Benton150
Greene121
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 17359

Reported Deaths: 618
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2191115
Jefferson1780102
Montgomery163238
Tuscaloosa73814
Marshall6879
Franklin5457
Lee54033
Shelby50319
Tallapoosa42364
Butler40217
Chambers35325
Walker3442
Elmore3398
Madison3274
Baldwin2839
Dallas2603
Morgan2511
Etowah24811
DeKalb2433
Lowndes23812
Coffee2291
Sumter2206
Autauga2164
Houston2094
Bullock2034
Pike1980
Colbert1782
Russell1670
Marengo1636
Lauderdale1612
Hale1598
Calhoun1543
Choctaw1518
Barbour1501
Wilcox1447
Clarke1422
Cullman1260
Randolph1257
Marion12111
St. Clair1181
Pickens1114
Dale1100
Talladega1093
Chilton1001
Limestone940
Greene944
Winston880
Covington771
Jackson772
Crenshaw763
Macon754
Henry742
Bibb721
Washington686
Blount611
Escambia573
Lawrence480
Geneva400
Conecuh391
Coosa381
Monroe372
Perry370
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar230
Fayette150
Cleburne141
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 80°
Columbus
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 82°
Oxford
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 78°
Starkville
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 79°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather