7/13/2019

How Universities Misuse Donor Dollars

"Sherlock Hibbs, a wealthy alumnus of the school who passed away in 2002, set aside $5 million from his estate to endow up to three chairs and three additional professorships in the study of Austrian economics. The gift’s terms included an awkwardly worded stipulation that the positions must go to “dedicated and articulate disciples” of Ludwig von Mises. The University of Missouri acceded to those terms and accepted the gift. Indeed its failure to follow them would invoke another clause, in which case the money would transfer to Hillsdale College — a small conservative-leaning institution in Michigan that also has an established program in Austrian economics.

At the time, the University of Missouri business school openly touted the purpose of the gift. A 2003 press release announced that Hibbs’s donation was provided in “support of three chairs and three professorships emphasizing the philosophy and tenets of the Austrian School of Economics.”

Missouri took the money and, over the past two decades, used it to endow positions for four faculty members. The recipients specialize in management and marketing. None appear to have any discernible research or teaching interests that even tangentially connect them to Austrian economics or to Mises. As a result of what appears to be a violation of the terms of the original endowment, Hillsdale is now suing Mizzou to invoke the transfer clause."