University of Missouri, Hillsdale settle lawsuit

The two institutions will split $9.4 million endowment; Hillsdale relinquishes oversight of gift.

Dec. 18, 2019
Contact: Christian Basi, 573-882-4430,

The University of Missouri and Hillsdale College have agreed to settle Hillsdale’s lawsuit against the university.

As part of the settlement, the institutions will split the endowment, currently valued at approximately $9.2 million. Additionally, Hillsdale will relinquish all oversight of the gift.

“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,” said Christian Basi, University of Missouri spokesperson.

In his original bequest in 2002, Sherlock Hibbs gave $5 million to fund six faculty positions in the MU Trulaske College of Business and gave Hillsdale oversight of the arrangement, indicating that Hillsdale would be a recipient of the funds if the terms were not followed. For many years, that arrangement proceeded without challenge, and MU spent $4.4 million to fund professorships consistent with Hibbs’ intent to promote the teaching of free and open market economics to MU students.

The settlement indicates the parties have agreed to disagree on their differing interpretations of the gift requirements. During negotiations, university officials determined the most fiscally responsible course of action was to settle the lawsuit and split the endowment. The settlement allows the University of Missouri to keep nearly the entire sum of the original bequest. Additionally, Hillsdale will relinquish oversight of the gift and no longer require the University of Missouri to submit any documentation.

“This settlement keeps $4.7 million of the endowment at MU and will allow us to continue our work of educating students about free and open markets in our College of Business with professors who are strong proponents of such markets,” Basi said. “We also will use some of the proceeds from the gift to sponsor a biannual symposium on the MU campus that will focus on Austrian economics, which was of particular interest to Mr. Hibbs.”

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