Law school donation fulfilled ahead of schedule


Halle Bonner, Contributing Writer

The Hugh F. Culverhouse School of Law at the University of Alabama was recently ranked the eighth highest public law school in U.S. News & World Report’s list, and to celebrate, Hugh F. Culverhouse is fulfilling the last $5 million of his $25 million donation two years ahead of his original four-year schedule.


In September of 2018, the University announced the donation of $25 million from Hugh F. Culverhouse. Culverhouse’s original plan was to make multiple installments toward his pledge over a four-year time period, but after hearing of the law school’s new ranking, he decided to pay off the last $5 million later this year.


“The key is, I work hard,” Culverhouse said. “I’m fortunate enough to make money. I have no desire to make that school wait four to five years to get money if they can get it sooner.”


Culverhouse started working with Dean Brandon a couple years ago. After bonding over their love for constitutional, they decided to include a chair in constitutional law in the law school. Culverhouse offered to fund the chair.


“His first donation came two and a half years ago, it was a $1.5 million gift for a chair in constitutional law,” said Mark E. Brandon, dean of the Hugh F. Culverhouse School of Law. “He had gotten interested in what we were doing at the local school, and he has a keen interest in constitutional law. He and I started corresponding over a period of about a year and he got me in the Detroit airport, in an extended conversation that covered a range of topics. He said, ‘I want to help the law school, and I want to help take the law school to the next level.’”


With Culverhouse’s donation along with the help of alumni and friends, Brandon has a vision of what he wants to do to advance the law school and help students gain as many opportunities as they can.


“What we want to do is focus on three fronts,” Brandon said. “First, creating a program of business law. Business law, broadly conceived, is an area of opportunity for practitioners. It’s an area of interest for many of our students, and ensuring that our students are as well prepared as they possibly can be to enter into areas of business.”


Renovations to the library, common areas, and class rooms are also part of the plan for the law school.


“Second big area has to do with the building and grounds,” Brandon said. “What I would like not to do is to invest Hugh’s money in brick and mortar, building and grounds. What I’d like to do is to rely on our alumni and friends for to support us on those efforts. And we do have some things that I think will make us a better place to live.”


The third front includes two aspects. And one of the major improvements Brandon wants to prioritize is scholarships and career services. Students come from everywhere, local and out-of-state, so he wants to be able to provide more scholarships for those students. To attract the best and brightest students to the law school, he believes scholarships and financial support are part of that big picture.

Along with scholarships, the staff at the law school wants to improve the Career Service department. Brandon said improving this department will ensure students have the most opportunities when it comes time for them to graduate.


Like Brandon, Culverhouse wants to see improvements starting now, which is why he decided to fulfil the rest of his $25 million pledge this year.


“They can go hire professors,” Culverhouse said. “They can go provide scholarships instead of getting the money coming in on this long schedule. I want it improved today, not four years from now.”