April Fool’s day came a few days late at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
On Monday, UWM issued a press release stating its Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business would be renamed after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The press release said the change is due to its namesake no longer representing school values after contributing to Gov. Scott Walker’s gubernatorial campaign fund last fall.
However, the press release was a hoax by a group of students.
The release claimed the school’s name was being changed because its namesake, Sheldon Lubar, businessman and founder of Lubar & Company, Inc., gave over $5,000 to Walker’s campaign.
It also said the new name was the King School of Business and there would be a ceremony Monday to celebrate the change.
In an initial phone call with the Tribune, Emma Schroeder, one of the release’s contacts, made it seem as if the claims were legitimate and there was, in fact, a university-sponsored ceremony. She said the name change was due to numerous student rallies against the governor’s budget repair bill, which strips public workers of most of their collective bargaining rights, and the implications it had for state workers.
In regards to honoring King with the change, Schroeder said he was the ideal candidate to represent a school of business.
“Today is the anniversary of his assassination,” she said. “We think that fact along with his values and work toward correcting social justice issues make him the perfect representative.”
However, his namesake for their school won’t be a reality anytime soon.
Kris Piwek, communications director at the Lubar School of Business, said the name was not changed today, nor has the university considered a change. She also said the student group, the Committee to Revitalize UWM, was responsible for sending out the false press release.
“The administration had nothing to do with this, and there was no legitimate ceremony,” Piwek said. “It was basically a group of students outside of the school with a banner.”
In a second phone call with the Tribune, Schroeder admitted the name change was solely the student’s doing, not the administration’s.
“It was more of a symbolic action,” she said. “Seeing that he donated to Scott Walker’s campaign, we feel that Sheldon Lubar is not worthy of our business school’s namesake … he doesn’t represent what the students, faculty and staff at our school stand for.”
The press release referenced this, stating Lubar was more concerned with his interests as a businessman. It said this was in opposition to interests of members within the UWM community.
Although the students’ claims about the name switch proved to be a hoax, Lubar was a major contributor to Walker’s campaign.
According to followthemoney.org, a campaign-finance database, Lubar donated $13,150 to Walker’s campaign last fall. Months after his election, Walker made efforts to reduce public workers rights, which include those of teachers.
When the school was named after him in 2006, Lubar spoke of his background in the Milwaukee and Wisconsin Public School systems and the importance of a quality education, which some could say conflicts with Gov. Walker’s budget repair bill.
“Without these institutions, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he said in the Spring 2006 issue of the business school’s alumni magazine. “The future of our community, the future of our state will be determined by how well we have educated our children.”