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University says returning donor’s funds ‘was never about…abortion’

School provides internal documents to back it up

The University of Alabama has provided evidence that the return of a major donor’s funds was not, as news reports have stated, due to the pro-choice donor’s calls for a boycott of the school over the issue of abortion.

Hugh Culverhouse, Jr., had previously urged students to boycott the school over Alabama’s recent abortion law, which placed significant restrictions on the killing of unborn humans. “I don’t want anybody to go to that law school, especially women, until the state gets its act together,” Culverhouse had stated.

Last week the university’s trustees voted to return over $21 million that Culverhouse had donated to the school. The timing of the decision suggested that the funds were returned over Culverhouse’s controversial calls for a boycott of the school; Culverhouse himself stated as much in a Washington Post op-ed. But the school is pushing back against that perception, providing documentation to show that the trustees made their decision prior to Culverhouse’s remarks about abortion.

The school released “emails that showed the recommendation [to return the donation] was made four days prior to any public remarks he made about the subject,” Yellow Hammer reports.

A school spokesman stated that the decision “was never about the issue of abortion. It was always about ending the continued outside interference by the donor in the operations of The University of Alabama School of Law.”

From the report:

While Culverhouse first denounced Alabama’s new abortion ban law to Florida Politics on May 29, emails show that University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis “Fess” St. John and Trustee Joe Espy on May 25 recommended the return of the donation amount Culverhouse had already paid — along with the cancellation of the amount yet to be paid and the renaming of the law school.

This came after an early morning May 25 email from Culverhouse to UA President Stuart Bell, in which Culverhouse admitted his expectation of “quid pro quo” was not being met. In that lengthy email, Culverhouse bashed the law school dean, Mark Brandon, repeatedly and trashed the nationally highly ranked law school as “mediocre.”

“I also know you have never dealt with a gift of my size-either for endowed professor or a something as large as to change the name of the law school. You are unprepared,” Culverhouse wrote to Bell. “Mark will always be a small town, insecure dean. The outside world frightens him.”

Culverhouse then said as a result of his demands about admitting more students and the hiring of personnel not being met, the amount of his donation he had paid ahead of schedule ($10 million) should be returned.

In his op-ed in The Washington Post, Culverhouse had previously written: “I expected that speaking out would have consequences, but I never could have imagined the response from the University of Alabama.” In that essay, Culverhouse did not mention that he had requested the return of the $10 million due to his demands not being met. He did tell Florida Politics that the released emails prove his claims about the university’s retaliatory intentions.

Read the report here.

MORE: University of Alabama donor calls for student boycott over abortion ban 

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