TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — University of Alabama trustees voted Friday to return a record $21.5 million donation from controversial donor Hugh Culverhouse Jr. and rename the law school. Culverhouse had originally pledged a total of $26.5 million.
Culverhouse last week called for a boycott of Alabama — school and state — over the state’s latest near-total abortion ban law.
The UA System quickly responded saying the university and Culverhouse have been in an ongoing dispute over the millions he has donated to the law school unrelated to the abortion legislation, vice chancellor for communications Kellee Reinhart said last week. In an emailed statement, Reinhart said Culverhouse asked the school to return $10 million, “repeating numerous demands about the operations of the University of Alabama School of Law.”
Culverhouse issued this statement after the trustees vote Friday:
“I expected this response from UA. 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. 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. Once again, I call on students to protest and reconsider their educational options in Alabama. I also appeal to out-of-state and international businesses to consider the consequences of conducting business in a state that discriminates against women and defies constitutional law. These boycotts and acts of resistance should remain in effect until the State of Alabama reverses the illegal anti-abortion statute.”
Culverhouse’s father, Hugh Culverhouse Sr., and his mother Joy both attended UA and were prominent donors to the university. He said his father was an active officer of a Planned Parenthood in Jacksonville, Fla., when he was a child and his mother was strong-willed and never would have stood for Alabama’s strict abortion regulations. Culverhouse Jr. said he does not want his donation back, but he is afraid students from out of state will be deterred by Alabama’s strict laws on reproductive health.
The abortion ban was signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey and has already been challenged by the ACLU of Alabama and Planned Parenthood Southeast. State Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur said the purpose of the ban is to challenge the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.
The Associated Press contributed to this story which will be updated