$30 million gift is largest ever to UF

Hazel and William Hough share a laugh with University of Florida president Bernie Machen, right, during a ceremony honoring the Hough's gift of $30 million to the Warrington College of Business graduate programs Friday. The gift is the largest private donation ever received by the university. William Hough was a graduate of the first class in the business college's MBA program in 1948. The graduate school of business will be named the Hough Graduate School of Business and the building will be named William R. Hough Hall.

The Associated Press
Published: Friday, January 19, 2007 at 1:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 19, 2007 at 1:52 p.m.

William R. Hough, a St. Petersburg businessman, has agreed to give the University of Florida's its largest cash gift in history with a pledge of $30 million.

Hough, founder of a municipal bond firm, has agreed to give the money to support graduate programs in UF's Warrington College of Business Administration, UF President Bernie Machen announced Friday. The funds will help finance a new building to house graduate programs, and both the building and the graduate school will both be named in Hough's honor.

"It is awesome when you think about what this gift is," Machen said.

With state-matching money, the donation has a potential value of $50 million.

The gift from Hough — pronounced "Huff" — is twice the size of what was previously the largest single donation to UF. The Miami-based McKnight Brain Research Foundation gave $15 million to the UF brain institute in 2000.

Speaking at a news conference Friday, Hough joked that "for $30 million bucks" he ought to be given all the time he wanted to discuss the reasons for his generosity.

Hough, a graduate from the first class of UF's Master's in Business Administration program in 1948, told reporters and faculty that he still feels indebted to the teachers at UF who gave him the tools he needed to build his fortune.

Hough further noted that he'd like to see a strong graduate program at UF to ensure the state can retain up-and-coming entrepreneurs. He dubbed this notion his "grow ’em and keep ’em" philosophy.

"I know that a lot of the fellas and girls that graduate in finance have their eye on Wall Street," Hough said. "But I want to tell you I made my success right here in Florida."

Hough, 80, founded William R. Hough and Company and served as its head for 38 years before it was sold to RBC Dain Rauscher of Minneapolis in 2004. He still serves as a financial consultant for the firm, and his wife, Hazel, is the former director of public relations for RBC Dain Rauscher.

See Saturday's Sun for more on this story.

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