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The $10-million donation from alumnus Lowell Milken to UCLA’s law school is stirring a debate on the campus regarding the decision to name a business law institute after Milken. The former financier was linked to a junk bond scandal at Wall Street twenty years ago.
Objections were raised by a prominent business law professor to Milken’s gift and to the announcement of UCLA this month that it will set up the institute in his name. However, top UCLA administrators and other law school faculty say that they welcome the donation, noting the former financier was not convicted of any wrongdoing.
Milken has been barred from working in the securities industry as part of a 1991 with federal regulators. He was never put on trial for criminal charges in the case that put his older brother Michael in jail for securities fraud. In the years that followed, both Milkens have become well-known philanthropists, with Lowell particularly generous to education causes. He was known to have given several donations to UCLA in the past.
Concerns about this latest donation were raised by Lynn A. Stout, a UCLA business law professor and an expert on corporate and securities law, in a letter which she sent last month to UC President Mark Yudof and UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. She said that the gift creates “serious ethical problems and reputational risks for UCLA” and could also damage her own reputation.
During an interview Tuesday, Stout also said she is worried Milken’s name on the new UCLA institute would imply that the law school is endorsing him as a role model for its students. “I don’t think someone who has been banned from the security industry and barred from the New York Stock Exchange is an appropriate model for UCLA alumni and students,” said Stout.