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May 17, 2016

George Mason May Not Need State OK to Name School for Scalia

The state body that oversees Virginia’s public colleges said Monday that George Mason University does not need its permission to rename its law school for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the behest of a $20 million donor, The Washington Post and the Associated Press report.

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia had been set to vote Tuesday on the rechristening, which has divided the campus since it was announced March 31 in conjunction with the anonymous $20 million gift and a $10 million donation from the Charles Koch Foundation.

However, the Virginia attorney general’s office advised the council that it does not have standing on the matter because the name change does not affect George Mason’s mission, programming, or enrollment. The panel will instead vote Tuesday on a resolution stating that its approval is not required. Law-school faculty have rallied in favor of honoring Justice Scalia, an icon in conservative legal circles, but other faculty, some students and alumni, and Democratic state legislators have protested the change.

The Chronicle of Higher Education looks in depth at the Scalia controversy and how philanthropic support from the Koch fund has helped make George Mason a center of conservative legal theory and free-market economics.