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Philanthropist donates millions to Alabama law school

September 22, 2018

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — The University of Alabama is lauding the largest gift in its history — a $25 million donation to the School of Law from Florida businessman and attorney Hugh Culverhouse Jr.

In recognition of the gift announced this week, UA President Stuart Bell says the university is naming the law school after Culverhouse, The Tuscaloosa News reported . The renaming got preliminary approval from the UA System’s board of trustees’ honorary degrees committee on Thursday and the full board formally approved it Friday, said university spokeswoman Monica G. Watts.

Culverhouse and his wife, Eliza, have donated nearly $40 million to UA over the last decade.

The previous record donation was $15 million from Marillyn A. Hewson and her husband, James, earlier this year.

“The sheer magnitude of this gift is only matched by your generosity. We are immensely proud to have the Culverhouse name attached the UA school of Law,” Board President pro tempore Ron Gray said.

UA has already received more than $11.5 million of the Culverhouses’ donation, with the remaining amount to be paid over the next four years, according to the university. The Culverhouses gave a $1.5 million gift to the law school last year to establish the Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. Endowed Chair in Constitutional Law, which serves as a foundation for a program in constitutional studies.

Culverhouse said he sees his philanthropy as a responsibility that goes beyond the act of giving.

“I have an obligation on myself to make sure the money produces something. I have an obligation to be actively involved with the law school, and I will. I give you my word, I will ... I want to see this university in the best of all (law) schools,” Culverhouse said.

The latest gift will establish the Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law Endowment for Excellence. The law school will use the funds to develop programming, enhance its facilities, increase scholarship support for students, provide additional educational and career opportunities for students and support a 21st century law library, Law Dean Mark Brandon said.

Culverhouse and his wife have been the top donors to the university during the past decade giving approximately $38 million, the bulk of which have been in support of scholarships, with gifts to the business college, athletics, and the school of law.

Culverhouse recalled his relationships with Bell, Brandon, and the late U.S. Circuit Court Judge Robert Vance Sr. and he traced his connections to the law school.

His gift was meant to give students the financial freedom to pursue the jobs and opportunities they are passionate about, he said.

Culverhouse recalled his own experience as an assistant U.S. Attorney learning and growing as a young attorney.

“I got experience. I lost, I won ... I want every student here to have the ability to do the same. I want scholarships in case you say ‘I don’t want to work for a large firm. I want to work for the government.’ I want you all to have the ability to do what you want. That is why I did this,” Culverhouse said.

Culverhouse is the chief executive officer and owner of Palmer Ranch Holdings in Sarasota County, Florida. He is also the principal in Culverhouse Limited Partnerships and invests in real estate, securities and hedge funds.

Culverhouse, an alumnus of the University of Florida, also served as a trial attorney for the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement and an assistant U.S. attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice.

UA’s college of business is named after his father, Hugh F. Culverhouse Sr.

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Information from: The Tuscaloosa News, http://www.tuscaloosanews.com

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