Home » Bill Gatton donates $5 million to University of Kentucky

Bill Gatton donates $5 million to University of Kentucky

Gift to increase access for first-generation, medical, Gatton Academy students

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A historic $5 million gift from the University of Kentucky’s largest single donor will help thousands of young Kentuckians from underserved areas obtain a degree from UK.

The scholarship program will also target students from medically underserved areas who want to attend medical school at UK.

The gift from philanthropist Bill Gatton will target three critical areas for Kentucky’s future workforce and health care needs:

  • Current UK students from each of Kentucky’s 120 counties will be eligible for awards with an average scholarship of $5,000-6,000 based on financial need and academic progress toward graduation. The first set of awards will occur this spring.
  • First-year UK students from Muhlenberg and McLean counties and undergraduate students who attended the Gatton Academy — an early college entrance program for gifted students — will be eligible for scholarship awards.
  • Forty scholarships of up to $25,000 will be awarded for Kentucky students at UK’s College of Medicine. Preference will be given to students from medically underserved areas.

The scholarship program will also prioritize and support first-generation students across these three areas.

The UK Board of Trustees will vote to accept the gift at its Feb. 17-18 meeting.

Gatton has set a standard for philanthropy for more than 25 years. The college of business and economics at UK bears his name as does the university’s student center. He has provided the foundational gifts for both the Gatton College facility and the Gatton Student Center. But his philanthropy for UK — and needs across his native Kentucky — extend far and wide. The total impact of his gifts at UK now total more than $70 million.

Details of the scholarship program include:

  • UK will utilize its nationally regarded LEADS program in identifying eligible students in terms of financial need.
  • The LEADS program uses unmet-need modeling to match scholarships, grants and targeted one-time aid to students.
  • The initiative already has attracted considerable philanthropic support from donors and alums to direct aid to students with unmet financial needs from counties throughout the state.

UK’s Vice President for Student Success Kirsten Turner will oversee the undergraduate scholarships awarded because of Gatton’s gift.

Turner said UK’s mission to advance Kentucky depends on ensuring more young people from the state have access to the distinctive education the university provides. Addressing unmet financial needs is one of the key strategies UK is employing to meet the needs of Kentucky’s workforce.

Thus far, more than 600 UK LEADS awards have been given to students, with the average award being more than $5,700.

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