Hillsdale College, Missouri settle lawsuit over endowment

December 18, 2019 GMT

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The University of Missouri and a small Michigan college have settled a lawsuit over a multimillion-dollar bequest that required the hiring of six professors who follow an economic theory that espouses free markets and argues for a limited role for government.

As part of the settlement announced Wednesday, Missouri and Hillsdale College will split the endowment, which is currently valued at about $9.2 million. Hilldale, a conservative liberal arts college in southern Michigan with about 1,500 students, will relinquish oversight of the bequest.


Hillsdale sued Missouri two years ago over a $5 million bequest from Sherlock Hibbs, who was a successful Wall Street financier after graduating from Missouri in 1926. He died in 2002. The endowment has grown to about $9.2 million because of Missouri’s investment.

In his bequest, Hibbs stipulated that Missouri use the money to create chairs and distinguished professorships for professors who follow the teachings of the late economist Ludwig von Mises, whose free market philosophy is associated with Austrian economics that is especially popular with libertarians. Hillsdale was given oversight over Missouri’s use of the money.

In its lawsuit, Hillsdale claimed the business school hasn’t appointed professors who meet Hibbs’ criteria, meaning Hillsdale should receive the money.

The two colleges “agreed to disagree” over their interpretations of the bequest’s requirements, Missouri spokesman Christian Basi said in a news release. The university decided the settlement was the most fiscally responsible action and to split the endowment, he said.