chancellor Fess St. John is recommending that trustees return $21.5 million to Hugh Culverhouse, Jr. and strip his name from the as a result of a dispute with Culverhouse over administration of the funds.
In September 2018, Culverhouse pledged $26.5 million — the largest commitment in the university's 187-year history — in support of the law school, including a $1.5 million gift made in 2017 to create the Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. Endowed Chair in Constitutional Law and $25 million over four years to establish the Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law Endowment for Excellence. According to a St. John sent to UA System trustees earlier this week, Culverhouse has since made two payments of $10 million each, for a total of $21.5 million — none of which has been spent — but "has complained about the law school's administration of these gifts," to the point of requesting the return of the most recent $10 million installment.
"[I]t is apparent that university and law school leadership will not be able to meet the donor's expectations and do not share the same vision for the future," the memo states. "It is my recommendation that we comply with the request to return the recent gift, as well as the prior gifts, and restore the name 'The University of Alabama School of Law'." The board is scheduled to meet next week.
Meanwhile, Culverhouse has called for a boycott of Alabama's state institutions — including the UA system — to protest the near-total abortion ban signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey — legislation that has been challenged by the and . Culverhouse, whose parents attended and were prominent donors to UA, told that his father had been an active officer of a Planned Parenthood in Jacksonville, Florida, and his mother never would have supported Alabama's new abortion regulations.
The largest donor in UA history, Culverhouse said that while he does not want his gifts back, "[a]ll foreign and U.S. international firms that do business in Alabama should boycott. It would get the law changed quickly."
"I cannot stand by silently and allow my name to be associated with a state educational system that teaches students law that clearly conflicts with the United States Constitution and federal law, and which promotes blatant discrimination," Culverhouse told . "The discrimination against women embodied by the law could easily be extended to other federal statutes and the U.S. Constitution decisions, which is a dangerous situation not only in Alabama but in other states contemplating similar unconstitutional laws."
In a accompanying the memo to trustees, UA System officials said that "[n]one of the issues between the law school and Mr. Culverhouse had anything to do with the passage of legislation in which the university had no role. Donors may not dictate university administration."