The Richmond Register

September 9, 2013

Centre College loses $250M gift through ‘capital market event’

By Ronnie Ellis
CNHI News Service

FRANKFORT — A little over a month ago, Centre College announced it was the beneficiary of one of the largest philanthropic gifts in higher education history.

On Monday, the small liberal arts college in Danville announced the $250 million all-stock gift from the Eugene Brockman Charitable Trust has been withdrawn because of “a significant capital market event” which didn’t materialize.

When the all-stock gift was announced in late July, Centre said it would fund 40 full scholarships each year. But apparently a company refinancing deal fell through — and with it so did the gift to Centre.

“The Trust’s intended major gift to fund the program was linked to a significant capital market event, which put considerable time pressure on efforts to structure the gift and the proposed scholarship program,” according to a Centre College news release.

“In the end, the parties determined that it was not possible to finalize these matters and get the required approvals from both sides in the time available,” the release went on.

In the news release, Centre President John Roush said the college will look for other ways to fund the proposed scholarship program.

“We will continue to pursue the goal of such a program designed to prepare students as leaders and entrepreneurs,” Roush said. “A taskforce of trustees, faculty, staff and students will be assembled to continue this conversation.”

The trust was formed in 1981 by Brockman who died a few years afterward. But his son, Robert “Bob” Brockman attended Centre for a time and later served on the 1,370-student private school’s board of trustees.

The Associated Press reported Monday that the gift was contingent upon a proposed refinance deal by an auto services company owned by the younger Brockman. The AP said the financial transaction did not materialize — for reasons unknown to the college — and the gift was withdrawn.

Centre College is a small, private liberal arts college located in the small central Kentucky town of Danville, population 18,000. Founded in 1819, it is consistently ranked among the best small liberal arts colleges in the country. Its faculty is ranked fifth in the nation for “Best Undergraduate Teaching” by U.S. News and World Report.

Centre boasts of several distinguished graduates including U.S. Vice Presidents and Supreme Court justices and Rhodes and Fulbright scholars.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.