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MU and Hillsdale College split endowment in settlement

University of Missouri campus
MU keeps $4.7 million of gift in settlement


The University of Missouri and Hillsdale College, located in Hillsdale, Michigan, have agreed to settle a lawsuit against MU.

The lawsuit involved a donation of $5 million from Sherlock Hibbs back in 2002. The money was meant to fund six faculty positions in the MU Trulaske College of Business. The gift though had strings attached. The professors hired had to teach free and open market economics to MU students. Hillsdale College was given oversight of the arrangement, meaning if MU failed to meet the terms of the gift, it would then be the recipient.

According to a press release from MU, the arrangement proceeded without any issue, and MU spent $4.4 million to fund professorships that met Hibbs' intent to teach open market economics.

As part of the settlement, the institutions will split the endowment, currently valued at $9.2 million. Hillsdale College will also stop overseeing the gift. MU will also pay nearly the full amount of the original gift, approximately $4.7 million, to Hillsdale College.

“This settlement keeps $4.7 million of the endowment at MU and will allow us to continue our work of educating students about free and open markets in our College of Business with professors who are strong proponents of such markets,” Basi said. “We also will use some of the proceeds from the gift to sponsor a biannual symposium on the MU campus that will focus on Austrian economics, which was of particular interest to Mr. Hibbs.”

Hillsdale College sent a statement saying MU took the money back in 2002 knowing the money was meant to hire "dedicated and articulate disciples" of Austrian economics, but then "re-wrote the terms of the gift and and exposed the members of Mizzou’s governing body—the Board of Curators--to legal liability."

"The Hibbs case will have a resounding impact on higher education and giving," Peter Herzog, attorney for Hillsdale College said in the statement. "Donors might reconsider or reevaluate institutions that are not like-minded in their missions and commitments. Colleges and universities will do what they want with your money unless you make sure they can’t."

Hillsdale claimed that the professors MU hired using the money were not as dedicated to Austrian economics as Hibbs wanted, but did not lay out how so in its lawsuit.

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Alec Pettus

Alec Pettus is an evening news producer at ABC 17 News.


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