Some VA lawmakers oppose George Mason renaming law school after Scalia

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 11:28 AM

The grouping of legislators sent the letter to the State Council of Higher Education for VA (SCHEV), asking it to reject the university’s map over concerns about whether Scalia is worthy of the honor.

Some VA lawmakers oppose George Mason renaming law school after Scalia

Nearly a dozen Democratic lawmakers said in a letter Tuesday they're against George Mason Univ renaming its law school after the late Supreme Ct Justice Antonin Scalia.

The grouping of legislators sent the letter to the State Council of Higher Education for VA (SCHEV), asking it to reject the university’s map over concerns about whether Scalia is worthy of the honor. The Univ said it needs the council’s approval for the new name.

Scalia "was also one of the most controversial justices in modern history," the lawmakers wrote. "Indeed, we've received pleas from alumni who are deeply concerned that this decision will destroy their skill to discover future employment or destroy their professional reputation."

Del. Marcus Simon, D-Falls Church, said he's received more than 1.000 signatures to an online petition he started opposing the name change.

"This is a big, in-your-face kind of a move," Simon said of the renaming proposal, which highlights Mason'south growth in recent years as a conservative powerhouse in law and economics, fueled partly by the Koch Foundation money. He said he'south concerned about using $30 million to invite students "and trying to shape their youthful minds and train them in the Scalia way of thinking. That'south troubling to me."

Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, questioned the secrecy of the donor and the lack of input from George Mason alumni, students and the public.

"To simply steamroll people'south collective input over $20 million from an anonymous donor is outrageous," he said.

The school announced latest week that it planned to rename its law school the Antonin Scalia School of Law. The new title honoring the conservative icon was suggested by an anonymous donor, who's giving the school $20 million. The Charles Koch Foundation also contributed an extra million.

Charles Koch is CEO of Koch Industries and along with his younger brother David is known for his support of conservative and libertarian causes.

George Mason tweaked the proposed named modify Tuesday to the Antonin Scalia Law School after the previous acronym was mocked on social media.

Law school dean Henry Butler said in a letter Tuesday to students and alumni that the large sum of money from the donor allows flexibility in the naming and that Antonin Scalia Law School was a logical substitute.

"We just wish to be sure we're being respectful to Justice Scalia, to the school and our students" in constructing the name, law school senior associate dean David Rehr said Wednesday.

Butler'south letter said the school is also looking into whether it can accommodate requests from students who don't wish Scalia'south title to show up on their diplomas.

Rehr said that $20 million gift is explicitly condition on naming the school for Scalia.

At SCHEV, spokesman Greg Weatherford said the council received Mason'south application Wednesday, and that staff would review it and create recommendations in the coming weeks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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