University of Richmond: Don’t Want The Name? Send Back The Loot.

by Kerry Dougherty

Most of us didn’t pay attention last September when the University of Richmond Board of Trustees voted to remove the name of T.C. Williams from its law school because the Williams family who endowed the law school were slave owners.

After all, U of R is a snooty rich kids’ school. Not a public institution. They can be as woke as they like.

But in a delicious turn of events, wokeness is now biting the University on its well-tailored derriere.

A descendant of the philanthropic Williams family wants the money his great-great grandfather gave to the school returned — with interest — to the family.

“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? At a 6 percent compounded interest over 132 years, T.C. Williams’ 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,” Rob Smith, Williams’ great-great-grandson, said in a letter to President Kevin Hallock.

“Moreover, is it not a form of fraud to induce money from a benefactor, and then discredit the benefactor after he is long dead? Surely, the Williams family would not have given a penny to the University knowing that the University would later dishonor the family. The ethical and virtuous decision is clear. Return the money.”

According to Smith, he has sent multiple emails to the president of the university asking to speak before the Board of Trustees. He says the family wants its “day in court.”

“Perhaps true academics could recognize that the achievements of people like T.C. Williams contributed to the demise of slavery and created a bold economic and social order that gave men the opportunity to make a living for themselves and the human dignity derived from such efforts?” he wrote in his letter to President Hallock

“Against all odds, T.C. Williams amassed a great fortune,” Smith continued. “He may have been the wealthiest man in Virginia at his death. And what did he do with his wealth? He hired thousands of workers, many were blacks and women. Productive work and industry is the only thing that lifts people out of poverty. The Williams family gave away all of their immense wealth, most of it was anonymous and there were substantial inter-vivos gifts. Many Richmond institutions are the result of their goodwill and generosity.”

Smith is absolutely right. The Board of Trustees is taking what it considers to be a principled high-minded stand, wanting to disassociate the school from any connection to slaveholders. Surely they would want to rid the school as well of slave-contaminated blood money.

The trustees, no doubt mostly wealthy benefactors themselves, since that’s how one lands such a prestigious slot, should consider how much more noble they will feel once the university is cleansed of this tainted lucre.

If U of R needs to replace the money, perhaps they can raise $51 million from the legion of woke statue-topplers who inhabit Richmond.

A capital campaign. And a capital idea.

This column ran first in Kerry: Unemployed and Unedited and is republished with permission.