8 months ago

‘Culverwho?’: University of Alabama System returns $21.5 million donation, strips name from law school

TUSCALOOSA — Hugh F. Culverhouse, Jr.‘s $21.5 million donation to the University of Alabama has been returned and his name has been permanently removed from the university’s law school.

The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees on Friday morning unanimously approved a resolution at the recommendation of Chancellor Finis “Fess” St. John, IV to restore the school’s name to “The University of Alabama School of Law.”

The portion of Culverhouse’s total $26.5 million law school gift he had already paid, $21.5 million, will be returned to the Floridian. His was the largest donation in university history, but Lockheed Martin CEO and UA alumna Marillyn Hewson and her husband will now reclaim that distinction.

The university moved swiftly to remove Culverhouse’s name from the law school, sending a facilities crew within minutes of the board meeting ending to chisel “Hugh F. Culverhouse, Jr.” off of an exterior sign and taking down his portrait inside the law school.

In adopting the resolution, Board of Trustees President Pro Tem Ronald Gray of Huntsville said the board routinely deals with complicated matters that require a lot of debate.

However, “This decision was not difficult or complex,” he emphasized to the meeting attendees.

The resolution stated that it became “apparent in recent months that the parties (Culverhouse and the university) do not share the same vision and expectation for the use of the funds.”

In a prior press release, the System had advised Culverhouse was making operational and structural demands of university and law school administration. This came after he attempted to disguise the rift between the parties as being related to his pro-abortion stance, effectively trying to publicly martyr himself to cover the real reason he was at odds with the university.

It should also be noted that Culverhouse first claimed he was not asking for the return of any of his money when he came out against Alabama’s new abortion law, but it was soon revealed he had demanded $10 million be returned by the university over unmet demands having nothing to do with abortion. Despite that, in a statement Friday, he once again asserted he had not asked for the return of his donation.

The resolution approved Friday said that St. John recommended returning the donation after “numerous conversations and communications” with University of Alabama President Stuart Bell and law school Dean Mark Brandon.

According to the resolution, the law school foundation board of governors on May 30 approved the return of Culverhouse’s gift and all related accumulated earnings.

During the meeting, St. John said since Culverhouse made his record donation last year, it became increasingly clear that Culverhouse’s expectations related to his gift were “inconsistent with the essential values of academic integrity.”

St. John said despite “good faith efforts” by university and law school administration, the disconnect between Culverhouse’s expectations and how the university operates based on “those values” ultimately meant there was “no path forward.”

One of the reported demands Culverhouse made was increasing the number of students admitted to the law school, which is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s best.

“Donors do not dictate to administration at the University of Alabama,” St. John stressed.

Gray concluded, “This decision is clearly the right one and is in the best interest of the University of Alabama, this system and this board of trustees. It is one of our top priorities as a board to protect the integrity of these great institutions, and we will continue to do so with every decision we make now and in the future.”

Friday’s action does not affect the Culverhouse family’s other, non-law school contributions to the university.

However, after the board’s vote on Friday, he released a statement, asserting, “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.”

To be clear, neither the University of Alabama System or the University of Alabama has advocated in any way for the abortion law Culverhouse continues to refer to.

Culverhouse earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida in 1971, an MBA in corporate finance from New York University in 1972 and a law degree from the University of Florida law school in 1974 – the same year he became a CPA in Florida.

His parents were his only ties to the University of Alabama.

An observer at the removal of Culverhouse’s name from the law school signage joked that the former namesake will now be dismissively known as, “Who F. Culverhouse, Jr.”

Update 12:40 p.m:

The University of Alabama System issued the following statement:

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

28 mins ago

Nick Saban: I still consider Jalen Hurts ‘one of our players’

MOBILE — Former University of Alabama Crimson Tide star quarterback Jalen Hurts is still beloved by many in Bama nation, including head coach Nick Saban.

Saban has spoken this past year about his respect and admiration for Hurts. However, speaking to members of the media on Wednesday at the second day of Senior Bowl Week practices at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Saban made it clear he really feels that Hurts is still part of the Tide family.

To open his remarks, Saban said, “My only comment is we’re glad to be here. It’s always great to come back to Mobile for the Senior Bowl. It’s such a tradition, and I think this community really embraces this game.”

“It’s really good for the players to have the opportunity to showcase their talent, any player from any place but especially good to see our players be able to do it — and Jalen, who I still consider one of our players … always good to be here to support our players,” Saban continued.

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The legendary coach then answered questions for approximately four minutes.

He discussed what NFL teams will like about both Hurts and outgoing Tide junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Watch:

This came after Hurts this week has spoken highly of the University of Alabama football program, its fanbase and the state of Alabama.

Hurts will wear a two-sided helmet during Saturday’s Senior Bowl game; one side is a replica of his iconic No. 2 Bama helmet, and the other has the Oklahoma Sooners logo on it.

RELATED: Bama’s Jared Mayden glad to be reunited with ‘natural leader’ Jalen Hurts for Senior Bowl

Hurts recently said about Saban, “We always had a love for each other … our relationship will never die.”

Get tickets to Saturday’s Senior Bowl game here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

39 mins ago

Shelby County sheriff one of 18 officials appointed to Trump law enforcement commission

Shelby County Sheriff John Samaniego on Wednesday was named by the U.S. Department of Justice as an appointee to the newly-established Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr appointed Samaniego and 17 other law enforcement officials from across the nation to the commission, which was created through executive order by President Donald Trump in late October.

The commission will explore modern issues affecting law enforcement that most impact the ability of American policing to reduce crime, according to the DoJ.

“There is no more noble and important profession than law enforcement,” Barr said in a statement. “A free and safe society requires a trusted and capable police force to safeguard our rights to life and liberty.”

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“But as criminal threats and social conditions have changed the responsibilities and roles of police officers, there is a need for a modern study of how law enforcement can best protect and serve American communities,” he continued. “This is why the President instructed me to establish this critical Commission, whose members truly reflect the best there is in law enforcement. Together, we will examine, discuss, and debate how justice is administered in the United States and uncover opportunities for progress, improvement, and innovation.”

Read more about the commission here.

This comes after Samaniego was recently named as the winner of the 2019 Crime Stopper of the Year Award by Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama.

On Monday, he was one of eight Alabama sheriffs to publicly endorse former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ 2020 bid to return to the Senate.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

58 mins ago

Etowah County mega-site to receive $2.7M in improvements

The Etowah County-located Little Canoe Creek mega-site is to receive $2.7-million in improvements as part of an effort to make it a more attractive location to potential industry.

The site is composed of around 1,100 acres just off of I-59 southwest of the city of Gadsden. The funding for the improvements comes from a donation by the Norfolk Southern Corporation.

According to a release sent to Yellowhammer News, the improvements “will include grading a portion of the over 1,000-acre property to create a pad-ready rail-served site sufficient to accommodate a large industry. Natural gas lines will be relocated near the edge of the property, and a new railroad crossing will be added to the industrial access road off U.S. Highway 11.”

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“The mega-site has many location advantages for industrial recruitment and this project will improve upon its assets and greatly increase our overall competitiveness,” said Marilyn Lott, economic development director for Etowah County.

Etowah County began buying the land that now composes the Little Canoe Creek site in 2008. In addition to bordering the local interstate, the site is also adjacent to U.S. Highway 11 and a Norfolk Southern mainline.

Little Canoe Creek was designated an “Alabama AdvantageSite” in 2018. Being labeled an “AdvantageSite” amounts to a guarantee from the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama “that the site is ready for major industrial use.”

According to local leaders, a key factor in the improvements announced on Wednesday is the Growing Alabama Tax Credit. A credit “is equal to 100% of the donating taxpayer’s contributions to the economic development opportunity during the taxable year for which the credit is claimed and may offset up to 50% of the taxpayer’s income tax liability.”

“We truly appreciate this funding made possible by Norfolk Southern and the state,” said Jeffery Washington, president of the Etowah County Commission.

“This infrastructure improvement project at the Little Canoe Creek Mega-Site perfectly illustrates how we can use the Growing Alabama Credit as a tool to facilitate growth and expand employment,” added Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

1 hour ago

Steve Marshall travels to D.C. to urge Senate to reject Trump impeachment articles

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Wednesday traveled to Washington, D.C. to file a blistering 14-page “friend of the Senate” letter urging the upper chamber to reject the two articles of impeachment filed against President Donald J. Trump.

The Senate on Tuesday began the impeachment trial of Trumps, and Marshall joined 20 of his Republican attorneys general from across the nation in signing the letter.

However, Marshall was only one of six of the attorneys general invited to the U.S. Capitol to attend a press conference Wednesday commenting on their letter and the impeachment trial.

Of the letter, Marshall remarked, “It is thorough. It is a full examination of both the facts and the law that the Senate has to apply. But despite that significant analysis, fundamentally what that letter is about is the idea of fairness — or maybe better said, the lack of fairness.”

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“As a prosecutor for 20 years, what I’ve seen is an unfair process brings about an unjust result,” Marshall advised. “And that is what the Senate now has an opportunity to stop.”

“I also find it remarkable, as somebody who has stood before juries and judges, whose brought charging instruments against defendants, to now hear the House say that they are not prepared. And that they are not ready. What that simply shows is not that they are not prepared but that they have no case,” he continued. “Our letter demonstrates the various reasons why the Senate should reject this effort, and we need to return the president back to the work of this country…”

Watch:

In a tweet referencing the letter, Marshall called the articles of impeachment passed by House Democrats against Trump “unfounded and fundamentally flawed.”

The letter states, “If not expressly repudiated by the Senate, the theories animating both Articles will set a precedent that is entirely contrary to the Framers’ design and ruinous to the most important governmental structure protections contained in our Constitution: the separation of powers.”

Read the letter below:

State AG letter to Senate o… by Fox News on Scribd

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele inks three-year extension

Auburn University head football coach Gus Malzahn on Wednesday announced that defensive coordinator Kevin Steele has officially agreed to a new three-year contract that will take him through the 2022 season.

In a statement, Malzahn said, “Kevin has done a fantastic job with our defense the last four years making it one of the best in the country.”

“This will provide great stability and leadership for our defense in the future. I’m appreciative of Kevin’s hard work,” he added.

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Steele has been Auburn’s defensive coordinator for the last four years. During that tenure, the Tigers’ defense has ranked in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense. Additionally, Auburn is one of only five FBS programs to hold opponents under 20 points per game in each of those seasons.

Malzahn and Steele were both spotted at Senior Bowl Week practice in Mobile on Tuesday.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn