Chris Radcliff/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)
A sign on UCLA's campus.
Last month, the School of Law at UCLA. announced with fanfare a $10 million gift from Lowell Milken. The donation would establish a business law institute in his name. Philanthropic works from Lowell and his brother Michael aren't uncommon in this community, but this one is being described as a gift horse by some. In particular, a distinguished law professor at UCLA., Lynn Stout, is going public with her displeasure. "I think it’s somewhat distressing that so few people seem to be aware of Lowell and Michael Milken’s business history," Stout wrote in a letter to the leadership of the University of California. She is referring, in part, to the fact that Lowell Milken was barred permanently from the securities industry by the Securities and Exchange Commission as well as the New York Stock Exchange during the "junk bonds" era of the late 1980s. Supporters of Milken say he was never found guilty of anything and his other accomplishments hold greater weight. Just yesterday on AirTalk, we chewed over the tough financial challenges facing universities. Philanthropists are being asked to contribute more and more. What should inform the decision of who UCLA accepts money from? How squeaky clean does a donor have to be? Is this a different case because of the type of institute the donation is funding -- a business law school?
Lynn Stout, Paul Hastings Distinguished Professor of Corporate and Securities Law, UCLA's School of Law; author of “Cultivating Conscience: How Good Laws Make Good People”