MU has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by Hillsdale College, which claimed the university misused a $5 million endowment meant to honor late Austrian economist Ludwig Von Mises.

The small liberal arts university in Michigan has agreed to split an endowment the latter was granted authority over upon its creation in 2002.

MU alumnus Sherlock Hibbs granted a $5 million endowment to the Trulaske College of Business to create chair positions devoted to teaching Ludwig Von Mises’ economic principles. Von Mises is one of the most influential figures in today’s free market-libertarian wing of the Republican party. An economic philosopher who touted small government and unregulated markets, former presidential candidate and champion of libertarianism Ron Paul cites him as an inspiration. Hibbs, too, had become an admirer during his successful business career, according to previous Missourian reporting.

Hibbs put Hillsdale College in charge of confirming that MU was following the conditions of the endowment, which would have legal grounds to claim ownership of the money if it was determined MU was spurning the conditions set.

While the endowment is now split between the two schools, Hillsdale will no longer have oversight of the portion remaining with MU. MU spokesperson Christian Basi maintains the school upheld the stipulations of the endowment and, through its investment, will be keeping $4.6 million, just short of the the endowment’s original $5 million. Basi added that the settlement will have no effect on the positions created by the endowment.

“We are pleased with this resolution because it allows both institutions to use the gift proceeds to teach free and open markets as well as Austrian economics and other economic philosophies. This benefits students at both institutions and ends this dispute,” Basi said in a news release.

Hillsdale has a reputation of serving as a bastion of conservative academia. Vice President Mike Pence delivered last year’s commencement speech, and a number of prominent Republican donors sit on its board. It is also home to Von Mises’ personal library, according to past reporting.

Hibb’s endowment, which had grown to $9.2 million through investment, was used to create three chairs and three professorships at MU with four of these chairs held today. Periodically MU was to send a letter to Hillsdale touting the Austrian economics credentials of the individuals in these positions.

Hillsdale’s representation claimed MU was ignoring the conditions of the endowment, and the Austrian school of thought was not properly represented in the positions. Provided this were true, the endowment would pass to the Michigan school. Hillsdale also hired former democratic governor of Missouri and MU alumnus Jay Nixon as its legal representation.

In a statement released by Hillsdale College it said it had also recouped nearly all the original sum.

MU said in its official statement that it will continue to use the money to teach free market economics and will hold a symposium on the Austrian school twice a year.

Supervising editor is Kaleigh Feldkamp.

  • State Government Reporter, Fall 2019 Studying news reporting Reach me at or in the newsroom at 573-882-5700

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