Not so fast: $250M gift to Kentucky college withdrawn
A $250 million donation that would have been among the largest gifts to higher education in U.S. history has been withdrawn from a small Kentucky liberal arts college, officials said Monday.
Centre College in Danville, Ky. — known for hosting vice presidential debates in 2000 and 2012 — said Monday that the all-stock gift from the A. Eugene Brockman Charitable Trust was linked to a “significant capital market event” that put considerable time pressure on the college to structure the gift and the proposed scholarship program.
“We're not happy, in any shape or form, with this outcome,” Centre College President John Roush told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “This would have helped us do better what we're already doing.”
College officials said they were notified by the trustee last week with word that the gift had been withdrawn. The call informing the school came the same day the business transaction was to close, Richard Trollinger, Centre's vice president for college relations, said in an interview.
A statement from the school did not include comment from the trust or its trustee. Through a spokesman, the son of the trust's founder — who formed the charitable organization a few years before his death — declined to comment Monday.
The donation would have created a Centre College scholarship program next year. Annually, 40 students majoring in the natural and computational sciences and economics would have received the full-ride scholarships, the school had said.
Trollinger said in an interview that the gift was part of a multibillion-dollar “corporate reorganization and recapitalization” that had to take place in a limited amount of time.
“For reasons unknown to the college, the transaction is not going forward and as a result, the gift that had been committed to Centre has been withdrawn,” he said.
Asked his reaction when he got the word, Roush replied: “There's a sense of disappointment and loss, no question about that.”
Centre is at the start of a fundraising campaign that now has lost its central gift, but Roush said the college will continue its pursuit of creating the type of scholarship program envisioned by the gift. “A task force of trustees, faculty, staff and students will be assembled to continue this conversation,” he said.
“Centre College was an outstanding national liberal arts college before the gift was committed, and Centre's future remains exceedingly bright,” Roush added.
When announced, the donation had ranked among the 20 biggest gifts ever to a U.S. college or university, according to a list maintained by the Chronicle of Higher Education. It had been the second-largest such gift to a U.S. school since 2011, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, surpassed only by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's $350 million donation to Johns Hopkins University announced earlier this year.
Brockman formed the charitable trust in 1981, a few years before his death. His son, Robert T. “Bob” Brockman, attended Centre for a couple of years before getting his degree elsewhere and is a former chairman of the school's board of trustees. Bob Brockman, who lives in Houston, left the Kentucky school because he wanted a degree in business administration, which isn't offered as a major at Centre.
Bob Brockman is also chairman and CEO of The Reynolds and Reynolds Co., an auto dealer services firm that merged with Universal Computer Systems in 2006. The company develops software and services for automotive dealerships.
Brockman declined to comment Monday through company spokesman Tom Schwartz.
“This is between the trust and the college,” the spokesman said.
Trollinger said the Brockman Trust has been “a longtime friend and important partner.” He said the trust had made a number of generous gifts over the years to help transform the campus and improve its facilities.
“Our collaboration with the Brockman Trust has made us better in many ways and will continue to do so,” he said.
A prior $19.5 million gift from the Brockman Trust went for construction of a dorm that opened a year ago at Centre.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Torn thumb ligament puts Josh Harrison on DL
- Pirates get journeyman Ishikawa off waivers; outfielder Marte injured
- McCandless mom suspected of drowning sons found competent to stand trial
- PennDOT team decides what spells trouble on vehicle license plates
- Film shares tale of Pittsburgh man who turned disability into career
- Heyl: Asphalt will remain only marker for once heralded Syria Mosque
- High tax could scuttle online gaming in Pa., CEO says
- Springdale counters despair with ‘HOPE’
- Shaler detective honored for work with school district
- Hampton officials OK church plans for parking spaces, recreational field off Duncan Avenue
- Coaching next step for Gibsonia tennis standout Watt