In wake of abortion ban, top donor tells students to boycott University


Photo courtesy of UA News

Hugh Culverhouse, Jr. pledged $25 million to the University last year.

Jessa Reid Bolling , Assistant News Editor

The University of Alabama System chancellor has recommended trustees return the largest financial gift in the University’s history and strip the Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. name from its law school over what he says were attempts at micromanagement by the donor.

“As part of an ongoing dispute, last week Hugh Culverhouse, Jr. asked for the return of $10 million, repeating numerous demands about the operations of the University of Alabama School of Law,” a statement from the UA System reads. “Consequently, yesterday Chancellor (Finis) St. John recommended to the Board of Trustees that it return all of Mr. Culverhouse’s $21.5 million donation to the Law School, which will be acted on at the Board’s meeting next week.”

This announcement came shortly after Culverhouse, a prominent lawyer and philanthropist, called for a boycott of The University of Alabama over the state’s recent abortion ban law. Culverhouse’s financial gift was the largest in the University’s history and the University’s School of Law was renamed after him in September of last year.

Culverhouse said that all foreign and U.S. international firms should boycott any business interactions with Alabama in protest of the state’s abortion legislation, also calling for out-of-state students to boycott the University in an effort to force state politicians to reconsider the bill.

“I cannot stand by silently and allow my name to be associated with a state educational system that teaches students law that clearly conflicts with the United States Constitution and Federal law, and which promotes blatant discrimination,” Culverhouse said in an interview with “The discrimination against women embodied by law could easily be extended to other Federal statutes and the US Constitutional decisions, which is a dangerous situation not only in Alabama but other states contemplating similar unconstitutional laws. What is next, a return to Jim Crow days? Is Brown v. Board of Education, which outlawed ‘separate but equal’ discriminatory educational systems, also at risk of being violated by the Alabama legislature?”

Alabama’s new abortion legislation, called House Bill 314 or the “Human Life Protection Act,” was signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey on May 15. It bans all abortions except cases where there is a serious health risk to the mother. The law has already been challenged by the ACLU of Alabama and Planned Parenthood Southeast.

Culverhouse’s attorney, Lawrence Kellogg, said Culverhouse feels that students, especially those that are women, should think twice about enrolling at the University until the legislation is struck down.

“Sixty-six percent of the students at Alabama pay out of state tuition,” Kellogg said. “A boycott by them therefore could certainly be effective.”

The Culverhouse family has donated over $30 million to the University. The Culverhouse School of Business is named for his father, Hugh F. Culverhouse Sr., and his mother, Joy McCann Culverhouse, was on the golf team in the early 1940s. Culverhouse Jr. and his wife Eliza have donated $2.25 million in scholarships to the women’s golf team since 2015 and $5.3 million to the business school since 2012.

The UA System’s statement said the dispute between the law school and Culverhouse Jr. was unrelated to the passage of any legislation.