USD Lawsuit Resolved

An agreement has been reached in the dispute over the naming rights for the new University of South Dakota School of Business in Vermillion, according to a joint news release from both parties.

The disagreement has been resolved between the USD Foundation and Lucy Yoshioka Buhler. She is the widow of the late Walter A. Buhler, a 1960 graduate of the USD School of Business. In addition, a related lawsuit filed by the USD Foundation against South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long and Mrs. Buhler has been dismissed.

Following a day-long mediation with U.S. Magistrate Judge John Simko, the parties agreed to redirect Mr. Buhler’s $1.7 million donation for construction of the new USD Business School. The donation will now be used to establish several new scholarship funds and to create an endowed chair to benefit the USD College of Fine Arts.

Of the figure, a $1 million endowment will be established at the USD Foundation to fund the Walter A. and Lucy Yoshioka Buhler Endowed Cahir in the USD College of Fine Arts, with a preference in vocal music. In addition, $700,000 will be redirected to establish the Walter A. and Lucy Yoshioka Buhler Scholarship Fund to provide scholarships for exceptional students enrolled at USD. Those students will be designated as “Buhler Scholars.” The USD Foundation has committed to raise an additional $300,000 by Nov. 1, 2013, to increase the principal of the Buhler Scholarship Fund to $1 million.

The USD Foundation has further agreed to release a portion of scholarship funds received through the Buhlers’ education trust to establish a new scholarship program administered by the South Dakota Community Foundation. The Walter A. and Lucy Yoshioka Buhler Horizon Scholarship Fund will benefit deserving academically gifted South Dakota high school graduates to attend the college or university of their choice.

Also, Mrs. Buhler has released all naming rights for the new business school currently under construction on the USD campus.

Monday’s agreement marks the end of a dispute whose origins began about a decade ago.

Shortly before his death in 1998, Walter Buhler made a gift totaling $8.4 million to the USD Foundation, including $1.7 million earmarked for construction of the new Business School. In recognition of the donation, the largest single gift ever received at that time by the Foundation, USD agreed to name the Business School for Mr. Buhler.

The Buhler family believed their naming rights applied to both the building and the operating program. The USD Foundation maintained the Buhler gift applied only to the business school. In 2006, USD announced the business school’s operating program would be named the “Beacom School of Business” following the receipt of a $5 million donation for construction of the new building.

Upon learning the naming rights would be given to another donor, the Buhler family requested the $1.7 million intended for construction of the new business school be returned tothe family for distribution to another charity. After multiple attempts, Mrs. Buhler and the USD Foundation were unable to resolve the disagreement, which led to the USD Foundation filing suit.

That led to the mediation effort and the resulting agreement. According to Buhler attorney Jeff Wright, the family believes creation of the new scholarship funds and an endowed chair is a fitting way to honor Mr. Buhler’s memory.


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