(Jacob Bruns, Headline USA) After Virginia’s University of Richmond tried to cancel one of its biggest donors, his heirs are now demanding that the school refund his original donation—with interest—to the tune of $51 million, RedState reported.
In 1846, Thomas C. Williams had attended the institution—which, at the time, was called Richmond College. Later in life, Williams gave the school a sizable donation to open up a law school, which took on the appropriate name of T.C. Williams School of Law.
But last September, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to alter the name to “University of Richmond School of Law,” removing mention of Williams because he had owned over 25 slaves who helped him run a tobacco plantation.
University President Kevin Hallock issued a statement at the time of the decision, noting that even though they changed the name, they still recognize Williams’ contribution.
“We recognize that some may be disappointed or disagree with this decision,” he said. “We also recognize the role the Williams family has played here and respect the full and complete history of the institution.”
University of Richmond School of Law becomes the school's official name.
Details: https://t.co/c5YiRw63AR pic.twitter.com/FavyM8dMq8
— University of Richmond (@urichmond) September 23, 2022
But in response, T.C. Williams’s great-grandson, Rob Smith, penned a blistering letter to Hallock saying that he wants the money back if the school is going to try to erase his grandfather’s memory.
“If suddenly his name is not good enough for the University, then isn’t the proper ethical and, indeed, virtuous action to return the benefactor’s money with interest?” he asked.
“Is it not a form of fraud to induce money from a benefactor, and then discredit the benefactor after he is long dead?” Smith continued. “Surely the Williams family would not have given a penny to the University knowing that the University would later dishonor the family.”
Smith also noted that, if one calculated the sum plus interest, the school owes his family $51 million.
“At a six-percent compounded interest over 132 years, [Williams’s] gift to the law school alone is now valued at over $51 million, and this does not include many other substantial gifts from my family to the University,” he wrote.