The University of Alabama has returned $21.5 million to its largest donor and turned down an additional $5 million. The decision came after that donor, Hugh Culverhouse Jr., encouraged a boycott of both that school and the entire state following the passage of the state's law limiting abortion.
What abortion law?
On May 15, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed a law making it a felony to perform an abortion except in instances where it would save the life of the mother. Abortion supporters criticized the bill for lack of exceptions for pregnancies conceived through rape or incest and claimed it violated women's rights. The law will take effect in November.
What happened with the school?
Kellee Reinhart, the University of Alabama's vice chancellor for communication, said that the decision was made to return the funds as "a direct result of Mr. Culverhouse's ongoing attempts to interfere in the operations of the Law School." Reinhart insisted that this "was the only reason the Board voted to remove his name and return his money."
But Culverhouse was not convinced. "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," he said. "I want to make clear that I never demanded that $21.5 million be refunded and wonder if the University is attempting to silence my opinions by their quick response. I will not be silenced." He had promised $26.5 million, but had not yet given the final $5 million of that funding.
In May, Culverhouse called for a boycott of not just the state, but of the University of Alabama specifically.
"Sixty-six percent of the students at Alabama pay out-of-state tuition. A boycott by them could certainly be effective. Hugh also strongly believes that out-of-state and international businesses should not be doing business in a state that discriminates against women," Culverhouse's lawyer, Lawrence Kellogg, told Florida Politics.
Culverhouse also responded to the news that his name was taken off the law school, quipping, "You probably shouldn't put a living person's name on a building, because at some point they might get fed up and start talking." The school had only just been renamed after Culverhouse in September after he promised the $26.5 million donation. The university still has a Culverhouse College of Business named after this Hugh Culverhouse's father.