In 2006, however, The University of South Dakota Foundation received an offer of $5 million from philanthropist T. Denny Sanford. Since then, Lucy Buhler and the Foundation have not been able to see eye to eye.
She is demanding that the Foundation pay all sums received by the Foundation, plus accumulations, to some other unnamed charity, and threatens to sue the Foundation.
She still insists that both the building and the operating program at the USD School of Business should bear her husband's name.
The University of South Dakota Foundation disagrees, and is taking Lucy Buhler, who is the executor of her late husband's estate, to court.
It filed a petition for declaratory judgement against Lucy Buhler in Clay County Circuit Court in Vermillion on Nov. 29.
South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long is also named a defendant. State law requires the attorney general to represent defendants in cases against charitable organizations in state court.
Buhler, contending that the Foundation is in violation of the agreement made with her husband, wants the $1.7 million donation he made to the business school returned so it may be donated to another charity.
In the fall of 1998, Walter Buhler and the Foundation entered into an agreement, according to court documents, that provided that the donor would contribute $1.7 million for the establishment of a new school of business at the university, to be paid after Walter Buhler's death.
According to the court document filed by the Foundation, Walter Buhler knew that neither the Foundation nor the university had authority to name the building, since that authority rests with the state Board of Regents.
The agreement provides that the Foundation will apply the $1.7 contribution for the construction of a new business school. If a new building is not constructed, the existing structure that houses the business school – Patterson Hall – will be named for Buhler.
In 2006, Sanford offered to donate $5 million to the Foundation for the purpose of constructing the new business school building, with a request that the new building be named after him.
The Foundation declined the offer because of its 1998 agreement to name the new building in honor of Walter Buhler.
Sanford then agreed to donate $5 million provided that the operating program be named the Beacom School of Business.
The regents received a recommendation to make such a name change to the operating program, and the board agreed.
At this point, Lucy Buhler advised the Foundation that she believed the agreement to name the business school operating program after Beacom was in violation of the 1998 agreement between the Foundation and her late husband.
The Foundation states in its court filing that it intends to honor its agreement to name the new business school building after Buhler. USD Foundation officials also contend they are free to name the operating program at the school in honor of another donor.
The Foundation requests the court to carry out Walter Buhler's plan to donate funds in accordance with his intentions at the time the agreement was made. It also asks the court to determine the interest of the beneficiaries, and make an accounting of the trust.
Lucy Buhler and Long have 30 days from the Nov. 29 filing date of the petition to respond.