Once more on the Confederate issue

For those who care about the issue, Vanderbilt has lost on appeal in their legal battle with the United Daughters of the Confederacy to change the name erase the first word from Confederate Memorial Dormitory. The court ruled that Vanderbilt would have to pay the UDC their 1932 donation of $50,000 in today’s money, which by one calculation would be about $700,000.

In its decision, the court made an interesting point about how letting Vandy change the name without penalty would create a credible commitment problem for universities trying to raise money:

“We fail to see how the adoption of a rule allowing universities to avoid their contractual and other voluntarily assumed legal obligations whenever, in the university’s opinion, those obligations have begun to impede their academic mission would advance principles of academic freedom,” the court ruled. “To the contrary, allowing Vanderbilt and other academic institutions to jettison their contractual and other legal obligations so casually would seriously impair their ability to raise money in the future by entering into gift agreements such as the ones at issue here.”

Chad has more on the subject here, including a mention of a humorous gaffe on the part of The Register. My previous commentary is here.

I’ll be out in the woods for the weekend, so unless Shenandoah National Park happens to be wi-fi enabled don’t expect any blogging. That means you have a two day grace period to post argumentative comments without fear of rebuttal.