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$250 million gift to Kentucky college withdrawn

Published on NewsOK Modified: September 9, 2013 at 5:22 pm •  Published: September 9, 2013
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A small Kentucky liberal arts college lost out on one of the largest gifts in U.S. higher education history when the $250 million donation was withdrawn, school officials said Monday.

Centre College in Danville, Ky. — known for hosting vice presidential debates in 2000 and 2012 — said the all-stock gift from the A. Eugene Brockman Charitable Trust was linked to a "significant capital market event" that didn't pan out. As a result, the gift was withdrawn and a proposed scholarship program at Centre is on hold.

"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College officials said they were notified by the trustee last week that the gift had been withdrawn.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.

A statement from the school did not include comment from the trust or its trustee.

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, with a total of 160 students getting the assistance once fully implemented, the school had said.

Trollinger said in an interview that the gift was part of a multibillion dollar corporate 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the college, the transaction is not going forward and as a result, the gift that had been committed to Centre has been withdrawn," he said.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."

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.

The recapitalization referred to by the school was a proposed refinancing deal considered by an auto dealer services company that Bob Brockman heads, a company spokesman said Monday.

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