Milken Naming Gift to UCLA Resisted by Prominent Professor

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August 24, 2011; Source: Los Angeles Times | A planned naming gift by financier Lowell Milken for a business law institute at UCLA’s law school is being opposed by a prominent member of the faculty.

Lowell Milken and his brother Michael were linked to Wall Street’s junk bond scandal more than 20 years ago. Michael was convicted and jailed. Lowell escaped prosecution but was barred by federal regulators from working in the securities industry.

Professor Lynn A. Stout, an expert in corporate and securities law, sent a letter to UCLA officials expressing concern that the gift could harm not only UCLA’s reputation but her own as well. Stout said that naming the institute after Milken would set him up as a role model for business law students.

The University of California requires that the naming of a building or program “must be consistent with the university’s role as a public trust.” Stout said she would be less concerned with a Milken donation made to non-business-related programs at UCLA.

The dean of the law school told the Los Angeles Times that she was “mystified” by Stout’s opposition, noting that Stout was instrumental in seeking previously-donated Milken funds for a conference.

NPQ has covered this issue repeatedly. For example, the 2010 article “When a Donor Becomes Tainted” reviews some of the attendant issues.—Ruth McCambridge

  • Keith Bender

    Milken Cookies v. Stout Ale and pretzels. Hard decision choosing when someones money is no longer welcome. Is this also an indirect disapproval of future funding rejections of most all the remaining ” ‘Wall Street’ ‘TOO BIG TO FAIL’S'” ?
    If previous solicitations were acceptable but now that obvious “Ego” gratification is an issue I find our arbiter of ethics and morals out of line. The decision is not hers. Tainting people for life is an american obsession that seems directly contrary to a healthy society. Public displays of forgiveness might make people more open to getting honest. And not when it suits us or our politics.

  • john cohen

    Hurrah for the professor. One of the things you (should)lose when you go to jail, get barred professionally, etc. is the right to use your ill-gotten gains to prove to the world that there isn’t even any stigma attached to being a crook and stealing (innocent, poor people’s) money, unless it’s part of a very large, very public mea culpa, in which case you should have given back the dough.

  • Karen Q

    Lowell Milken has been supporting education for 30 years. Just a little research on Google would show this. These kinds of articles are merely looking for a reaction and not giving readers a complete picture. This guy was never a crook. He was never found guilty of any offense, not even a misdemeanor, nor did he ever admit to any guilt. I do not believe that decades-old, dropped allegations are grounds for rejecting a gift from a person who has made so many positive contributions to education.

  • Bru12

    For reference, this is from the statement the Dean of the Law School provided on the school’s website – “We thoroughly weighed all of the issues that Professor Stout has raised, and we came to a distinctly different and well-reasoned conclusion. In doing so, we applied fundamental principles of fairness that are foundational in American law. We looked at all facets of the record, we were careful to refrain from guilt by association, and we assumed that individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Lowell Milken

  • John Far

    I think it came out in one of the articles on this story that Professor Lynn Stout was just using this as an opportunity to market her book. She even got caught having used donated Milken funds in the past. Foolishly she chose Lowell Milken who has a solid reputation promoting American Education. Professor Lynn Stout should have come up with a different marketing gimmick.