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College in Michigan sues University of Missouri in dispute over $5 million donation

Hillsdale College says it is entitled to the money because, it says, the University of Missouri has not fulfilled the conditions of the donation.

A college in Michigan is making a claim on $5 million donated to the University of Missouri by an alumnus who died in 2002.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that Hillsdale College's lawsuit against the MU Board of Curators contends the university isn’t spending the money according to the wishes of the alumnus, Sherlock Hibbs, as spelled out in his will.

Hillsdale College assert that it is entitled to the $5 million as a third-party beneficiary if MU doesn’t fulfill the requirements of the will.

Hibbs’ will required the University of Missouri to establish three chairs and fund them with $1.1 million each, and three distinguished professorships, two with $567,000 and one with $566,000.

The will requires each of the chairs and distinguished professors to be a “dedicated and articulate disciple” of the Ludwig von Mises Austrian School of Economics, which emphasizes free markets, private property and limited government.

The Hillsdale lawsuit contends that MU resisted the conditions attached to the donation, so it didn’t follow them.

Professors funded by the Hibbs endowment at MU are Dan Turban, Karen Schnatterly, Rhonda Reger and Lisa Scheer.

University spokesman Christian Basi says the system invested the $5 million donation, which has grown to $9 million.

“Over time, the gift grows and that allows us to do more in keeping with the donor’s wishes,” Basi says.

The university has abided by the conditions of the donation, Basi asserts.

“We’re always very careful to use gift funds as per the explicit wishes of our donors,” Basi says. “That’s part of our commitment to be good fiscal stewards of the money entrusted to us.”

Basi provided a document that each professor signed on May 15, 2018, agreeing that they are dedicated and articulate disciples of the Ludwig von Mises Austrian School of Economics.

Hillsdale College provided a written statement from its attorney, former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.

"In his will, Mr. Hibbs clearly and specifically described the intentions for his gift to endow six professorships,” Nixon wrote. “Mizzou has not fulfilled Mr. Hibbs’ intent. Mr. Hibbs named Hillsdale College not only to ensure that his gifts were used as described in his will, but also to take action if the intent of his gift was not fulfilled. Hillsdale takes that obligation very seriously.

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