The University of Kentucky's Gatton College of Business and Economics has raised $34 million in private funds, more than half the amount needed for a $65 million expansion and renovation of the school.
Four donors — C.M. "Bill" Gatton, Don and Cathy Jacobs, Howard Lewis and William Seale — have contributed a combined $23 million.
At a ceremony Friday, Dean David Blackwell thanked nearly 300 people, foundations and corporations for their support for the project, which will improve technology and nearly double the space available for students, faculty and staff.
"This is a momentous day for the Gatton College," Blackwell said. "The outpouring of support from our alumni, other friends of the college and the business community continues to be nothing short of sensational. And we are confident that the commitments made by these four lead donors will inspire others to step forward to help us."
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Gatton, a member of the UK Board of Trustees, has provided millions to the school that bears his name. Don Jacobs is a car dealer and Lexington philanthropist. Lewis is founder and CEO of Family Heritage Life Insurance Co. of America. Seale is director of Portfolio for ProFund Advisors, and he created the William E. Seale Family Foundation to support higher education.
The Gatton project is one of three recently approved by the General Assembly. The projects — which include a $100 million science building and a $110 million renovation of Commonwealth Stadium — will be paid for with agency bonds. The bonds will be repaid by UK, rather than with state funds. For the Gatton project, UK expects to issue about $40 million in bonds, which will be paid off with the donated money.
The design phase of the Gatton project is under way, with construction expected to begin later this year. The timetable calls for completion of the project by fall 2015 or early 2016.