$30,000,000 given to UF's business college


Published: Saturday, January 20, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 20, 2007 at 1:01 a.m.
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$15 million A donation from the Miami-based McKnight Brain Research Foundation to the UF Brain Institute in 2000 prompted UF to name the institute in honor of the late Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight. William McKnight was chairman of the board of the 3M Corp.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun
William R. Hough, a St. Petersburg businessman, has agreed to give the University of Florida 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 money will help finance a new building to house graduate programs, and both the building and the graduate school will 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 has heretofore been UF's largest single donation. 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 Masters 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 make sure 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," he said. "But I want to tell you I made my success right here in Florida."
Hough, 80, founded William R. Hough and Co. 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.
Gift spread out To maximize tax deductions, Hough plans to spread out the first $20 million of his gift over a period of five years. The last $10 million of the gift is to be given to UF after Hough's death.
John Kraft, dean of the college, said $5 million of Hough's donation will go toward a new building for graduate programs. The building, which Kraft hopes to see open by June 2009, will cost an estimated $20 million. Hough's gift will cover half that cost if state-matching money is applied.
The remainder of Hough's gift will be used to support teaching and academic programs, including the establishment of several endowed professorships.
Hough's generosity is nothing new to the college. He's been a key supporter of the university's specialized master's degree programs, which allow students to earn a graduate degree in about a year. The programs also have appeal to students because they don't require any outside work experience for admittance, which is counter to the standard of most traditional MBA programs.
Hough praised UF's specialized graduate programs, one of which is already named in his honor, because he said the programs allow students to finish up quickly and get out into the work force. The only apparent downside, he said, is that "you don't have as much time to party around campus."
Now that the graduate program is named for Hough, a second big donor's name is associated with the college.
In 1996, the entire college was named for Al Warrington, a Texas businessman who now sits on UF's board of trustees. UF issued a news release at the time of Warrington's gift noting that he gave $5 million, $2 million of which came from a charitable trust.
The UF Foundation, the university's fundraising arm, would not disclose any information Friday about Warrington's cumulative gifts to the college. As a direct-support organization, the foundation is exempt from some public records laws.
In recent memory, some universities have struggled to keep major donors from micromanaging how their gift is spent. Hough said he trusted UF officials to be good stewards of his gift, but added that "I'm allowed to give my opinion" about putting the $30 million to use.
Hough's gift is a shot in the arm to UF's seven-year capital campaign, which began 1 years ago. The campaign aims to raise $1.2 billion, and UF Foundation officials hope Hough's donation will inspire others.
"It sort of sets the bar for many others, we hope," said Paul Robell, UF's vice president for development and alumni affairs.
Hough has clear ties to the UF Foundation, having served on its board of directors since 2000. He's also had an ongoing dialogue with Kraft, the college's dean, who said the two have been talking for about nine months about the possibility of a major gift.
For Machen, who began his third year as UF's president this month, the Hough gift marks yet another milestone for a university that has recently had its share of accolades. Earlier this month, UF became the first university in history to hold simultaneous championships in both basketball and football.
"Not a bad week," Machen said with a grin. "The question is, what are we going to do next week?"
Jack Stripling can be reached at 374-5064 or Jack.Stripling@gvillesun.com.

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