Mizzou may owe MILLIONS after rejecting deceased conservative donor's wishes

  • Hillsdale College is suing the University of Missouri for allegedly neglecting the wishes of Mizzou graduate and conservative donor Sherlock Hibbs’ $5 million gift.
  • The donor, who has since passed, left in his will instructions for how to use the funds, but former Missouri Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon said the school “never embraced" the donor's intent.

Hillsdale College has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the University of Missouri for allegedly failing to uphold the wishes of a conservative donor.

Mizzou received a $5 million legacy in 2002 from 1926 Mizzou graduate Sherlock Hibbs, who wanted his grant to fund six professor positions to be filled by free market economics experts at the Trulaske College of Business, according to Real Clear Politics.

“Missouri University never embraced Mr. Hibbs’ intent, and consequently students aren’t getting the exposure to intellectual philosophies necessary for broad-based education"   

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Hibbs, who has since passed, left in his will instructions for how his donation should be spent. Every four years, Mizzou needed 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, the remaining funds would be given back to Hillsdale, a 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. 

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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 Mizzou 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.

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“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 did not respond to Campus Reform's request for comment in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @ethanycai



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Ethan Cai
Ethan Cai | New Hampshire Campus Correspondent

Ethan Cai is a Campus Reform Intern and New Hampshire Campus Correspondent, reporting on liberal bias and abuse. He is a Freshman at Dartmouth College studying Quantitative Government Analysis with a minor in Economics.

20 Articles by Ethan Cai