The University of Alabama’s board has voted to return the largest donation ever made to the school, $21.5 million, which came from Florida lawyer Hugh Culverhouse Jr., for whom the law school was previously named, after he encouraged students to boycott the school over the state’s abortion ban.
The Daily Beast says that the school’s vice chancellor for communication, Kellee Reinhart, says that the school had no choice but to return the funds after she says that Culverhouse tried to interfere with the school.
“The action taken by the Board today was a direct result of Mr. Culverhouse’s ongoing attempts to interfere in the operations of the Law School. That was the only reason the Board voted to remove his name and return his money,” Renhart said.
Culverhouse also released a statement that said he could no longer support a school that advocated violating women’s rights, and stated that he was not surprised at all by the school’s decision to return the donation after he encouraged students to express their displeasure over its support of Alabama’s near-total abortion ban.
“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,” Culverhouse said in the statement.
“Culverhouse, a Florida lawyer and investor whose father was a longtime owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, made the largest donation in the school's 187-year history last September when he committed to give $26.5 million.” https://t.co/hKaTyuvX1z
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) June 7, 2019
Slate says that Culverhouse, 70, a Florida real estate investor and lawyer, is now being removed from the University of Alabama School of Law, which was called the “Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law.” The school denies that they are returning the money in response to the donor’s opinions, but they say that it’s about his efforts to use his money to dictate the policies of the law school.
Culverhouse says he is standing by the reasons he initially called for the boycott saying that he doesn’t think that anyone should go to that law school.
“I don’t want anybody to go to that law school, especially women, until the state gets its act together,” he said.
He also added that he thought it was a bad precedent for a law school to support a law they “knew to be unconstitutional.” Culverhouse also said that this matter draws into question the idea of putting a living person’s name on a school or university building because living people will always have an opinion and “might start talking.”
The new law, which won’t go into effect until November, is being challenged by the ACLU of Alabama and Planned Parenthood Southeast in court.