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The University of Alabama is severing ties with its biggest donor.
On Friday, the university’s board of trustees voted to return a $21.5 million contribution from Hugh Culverhouse Jr. and to remove his name from its law school. The decision was made after Culverhouse encouraged businesses and prospective students to boycott both the school and the state over Alabama’s new abortion law.
The university denied that their decision was rooted in retaliation. Rather, they claim that Culverhouse had previously asked them to return a $10 million contribution and that he was also making demands about how his donations were to be used.
“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,” said Kellee Reinhart, the university’s vice chancellor for communication. “That was the only reason the Board voted to remove his name and return his money.”
Shortly after the decision was made, Culverhouse issued his own public statement in which he defended his stance and questioned the university’s motives.
“I expected this response from UA,” Culverhouse said. “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 added, “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.”
Back in May, when Culverhouse first called for the boycott, he explained why the issue is so important to him.
“My father was an officer of Planned Parenthood in Jacksonville, Florida, during the 1950s,” he said. “This is a civil rights issue that has been important to my family for many years.”