That's the headline in the school's press release. Interesting use of the comma splice. An occasion to reflect upon the old saying Correlation is not causation.
But it must be fair to say that the $30 million caused the name change. It couldn't have been the sole cause, and who can know what weight it added to the side of the scale that held genuine respect for the late Justice and belief in the desirability of attaching this label to all the students and alumni and faculty and staff of the school? The man is very recently dead and he is associated with strongly stated opinions on many of the most controversial issues of our day, so it's not like the time Yeshiva University took the name Benjamin Cardozo for its law school. Cardozo had been dead for nearly 4 decades when that name was chosen, and Cardozo even in his time was not viewed as controversially political.
If $30 million gets George Mason to adopt the name Antonin Scalia, I wonder what amounts of money would cause other schools to adopt other names. George Mason was already considered conservative, but Scalia amplifies the brand and adds quite a bit more edge. What if lovers of Harry Blackmun had wanted to get George Mason to put his name on their school? Would $30 million have been enough or would it take more?
My school has long been associated with the left end of the political spectrum, but we like money too. It's hard to imagine situations where offers are made that go against the grain of the law school's own idea of its brand, but what if someone were to offer us $30 million to name the school The William H. Rehnquist School of Law? Why would anyone do that? Just to lean on us? Would we resist? Up the amount. If not $30 million, what about $90 million? It's not absurd to imagine the offer. Chief Justice Rehnquist was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I'm sure that geographical association would play a role in our deliberations.
Who put up that money for the George Mason name change? $20 million came from an anonymous donor who worked through the Federalist Society, someone who was "a personal friend of the late Justice Scalia and his family." The other $10 million came from the Charles Koch Foundation.
The William H. Rehnquist School of Law at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Nice ring?
Oh, I see how easy it would be to rewrite this post as an April Fool's Day announcement, but I'm sick of April Fool's Day.