Centre College, a small rural college in Danville, Ky., announced Tuesday that it had received the largest outright gift ever made to a liberal arts college: $250 million, in stock from the A. Eugene Brockman Charitable Trust.
The gift will be used to create 160 Brockman scholarships — 40 a year starting in the fall 2014 — for students planning to major in natural sciences, computational sciences or economics. The scholarships will pay for tuition, room and board, and give the winners, chosen on the basis of merit, support for study abroad, summer research and internships.
With 1,370 students, about half from Kentucky, Centre is known for its extensive study abroad programs, the quality of its teaching, its high level of alumni giving — and for hosting last October’s vice-presidential debate
A. Eugene Brockman, who died in 1986, was connected to Centre only through his son, Robert T. Brockman, who attended the college for two years before transferring to the University of Florida to pursue business administration.
Though he did not graduate, the younger Brockman, the chief executive of Reynolds & Reynolds, a car dealer support company in Dayton, Ohio, has been a strong supporter of the college, serving as chairman of its board from 2008 until June 30. Three years ago, the Brockman trust made a $19.5 million gift to Centre for student residences.
Students chosen for the Brockman Scholars Program in Leadership and Entrepreneurship will be able to major in behavioral neuroscience, biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, chemistry, chemical physics, computer science, economics, financial economics, mathematics, physics or psychology.
According to Richard Trollinger, the vice president for college relations, about 60 percent of Centre’s students already major in these fields.
“The vision for this gift is to enable Centre to attract highly qualified students who become ‘job creators’ as they devote entrepreneurial thinking to society’s needs, thereby stimulating economic growth,” he said.
Two-thirds of Centre’s students receive need-based aid, Trollinger said, and about 90 percent receive some aid. Tuition, room and board at the college will be $45,100 this year.
“The whole system of financing American higher ed is broken, and money for student aid has been our biggest need,” he said. “I pitched this idea of Brockman scholars June 1, and it’s moved very fast since then.”
In recent years, the philanthropic focus on student aid has been growing.
“There’s increasing appeal for donors to contribute to scholarships, I think largely because of the attention being paid to college costs, and student debt,” said John Lippincott, president of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.