TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — The University of Alabama gave back a philanthropist’s $26.5 million donation and took his name off the law school Friday, a week after he called on students to boycott the institution over the state’s new abortion ban.
Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr., a 70-year-old Florida real estate investor, said he has no doubt the board of trustees acted in response to his remarks, and he complained that the state of Alabama is only reinforcing its reputation as “the land of the backward,” full of “hicks.”
University officials emphatically denied the decision had anything to do with Culverhouse’s stand on the abortion law and said it was prompted instead by his attempts to dictate how the money should be spent. They did not elaborate.
Culverhouse’s pledge, announced in September, was the biggest contribution ever made to the university. In return, the law school was renamed the Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law.
Within minutes of the trustees’ vote, a maintenance crew had removed his name and the university had wired him a $21.5 million refund of the money he had already given the university toward fulfilling his pledge.
Alabama’s toughest-in-the-nation abortion ban, passed last month and set to take effect in November, would make terminating a pregnancy a crime punishable by 10 years to life in prison for the provider, with no exceptions for rape or incest.