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MU sued over mishandling conservative donor’s money

The University of Missouri faces a $14 million lawsuit over mishandling of funds from a conservative donor.

The university is accused by Hillsdale College of failing to follow through on the instructions of MU graduate Shrelock Hibbs, who gave the college $5 million in 2002 to fund the salaries of six professor positions by free market experts in the Trulaske College of Business, according to Real Clear Politics.

Hibbs, who graduated in 1926, wanted to ensure with his endowment that business and economic students were exposed to free market principles as opposed to the growing acceptance and indoctrination of socialist principles taught on many college campuses.

Hibbs, who has since died, left explicit instruction in his will ifor how his donation should be spent. Those instruction, which were agreed upon by MU, say that every four years, Mizzou was required to certify to Hillsdale College that each professor position had been filled by “a dedicated and articulate disciple of the Ludwig von Mises (Austrian) School of Economics.” If this agreement was not upheld according to the terms of the endowment, the remaining funds would be given back to Hillsdale, a respected private school in Michigan which Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has described as “a shining city on a hill for conservatives,” according to The New York Times.

Hillsdale is now suing Mizzou in order to enforce Hibbs’ original intent.

“Missouri University never embraced Mr. Hibbs’ intent, and consequently students aren’t getting the exposure to intellectual philosophies necessary for broad-based education,” Jay Nixon, former Democrat governor of Missouri, Mizzou graduate, and the attorney representing Hillsdale in court, said.

Hillsdale alleged that the university accepted the $5 million from Hibbs, despite believing that his requests would cause the school to be “held hostage by a particular ideology,” according to the case brief.

The lawsuit also accused MU of rewriting Hibbs’ bequest conditions to “[focus] on some Austrian tenets that are compatible with what [they] do in [their] business school” instead of complying, “concealing their conduct,” and “falsely certify[ing] to the Board of Curators and to Hillsdale—repeatedly—that the University had complied with the condition of the Hibbs’ bequest.”

Hillsdale is seeking roughly between $13-14 million — “the original $5M, any amounts earned on the original gift, and all amounts paid to unqualified appointees” — a Hillsdale spokesperson said in an email, according to Real Clear Politics.

“Schools should vet potential donors on the front end,” Nixon said, “but once they accept the resources, they must embrace the purposes for which they were given. Focused on this bequest, [the University of Missouri] didn’t do it in this matter.”

The University of Missouri has run afoul of many conservative donors over the years who have withdrawn their funds because of the school administration’s growing radicalism, they say, and succumbing to pressure from leftist student groups.

–Metro Voice and wire services

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