Warrington gives record $75 million gift to UF
Published: Friday, February 21, 2014 at 8:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 21, 2014 at 8:31 p.m.
Al and Judy Warrington have just become the University of Florida’s biggest Gator boosters.
Their $75 million pledge to Al Warrington’s namesake — the Warrington College of Business Administration — is the largest gift in UF’s history, Tom Mitchell, vice president of Development and Alumni Affairs, announced Friday.
It also makes Warrington — at age 78 — UF’s first $100 million donor, Mitchell said.
“Their unprecedented and relentless commitment to quality and excellence … is a testimony and endorsement to not only the university but the Warrington College of Business,” Mitchell said, noting that people who make such significant gifts have long, deep ties to the university.
The Warringtons have a 40-year-long track record of giving their time, their energy and their money to the university — not only in the business college but in other areas including athletics, stadium expansion, scholarships and research.
Thirty-eight years after Al Warrington graduated from the College of Business Administration in 1958, he became its benefactor and namesake after he created a $12 million endowment for the college in 1996.
In 2009, he pledged another $16 million to endow four professorships in the business college. The latest gift will be added to that endowment available to all business college faculty expenses, support for summer graduate students and research expenses, said Dean John Kraft of the business college.
“This is something the state doesn’t provide, and we have to provide in other ways,” Kraft said.
The Warringtons were unable to attend the afternoon news conference because of travel delays, the university said, but arrived in time for a gala event in their honor at Emerson Alumni Hall.
Kraft said Al Warrington saw an opportunity to make a huge difference in elevating the status of the business college and the university and made the commitment.
“If you know Al and Judy, you know they are committed to quality,” Kraft said.
The business college has a goal of doubling its endowment of $165 million, Kraft said. “Al decided he’d cut that need in half,” Kraft said.
The latest gift will increase that endowment for business professors, as part of the university’s drive to Top 10 status. The state will give the university $75 million over the next five years, which President Bernie Machen has pledged to match with private contributions to recruit top faculty from around the nation to provide the best education to UF’s students.
Machen said the Warringtons’ gift is a significant contribution toward that effort and will help the university compete with its peers. He also said he hoped the donation would influence other alumni to contribute to UF’s latest fundraising goal to raise $800 million to create new endowments and chairs and support new faculty hires.
“We have other donors out there who have not given at that level but could,” Machen said, adding that the university was fortunate to have the Warringtons as a bellwether for alumni giving.
For decades, Warrington has been driven by a vision to make UF one of the best public universities in the nation, Kraft said. Warrington was motivated to build the skyboxes at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, was a prime mover in creating the Fisher School of Accounting and was one of the first supporters of the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars program.
Warrington is a past president of the UF Alumni Association and Gator Boosters, a member of the UF Foundation, and has served on the UF Board of Trustees since its formation in 2001.
Warrington worked for the Arthur Andersen & Co. accounting firm for more than 30 years. He was a managing partner of the firm when he left in 1989 to start Sanifill, a Houston-based waste disposal company that merged with Waste Management Inc. in 1996 in a deal worth $1.34 billion.
“We couldn’t have a better role model,” Machen said.
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