UF gift makes history

Early edition: A St. Petersburg man donates $30-million to his alma mater's business college.

Published January 19, 2007

A longtime St. Petersburg investment banker made history at the University of Florida, pledging to give his alma mater's business college a $30-million donation, the largest in UF history.

UF officials announced the record-breaking gift Friday morning in Gainesville.

William R. Hough was the biggest shareholder of the $2.8-billion Republic Bank and chairman of its holding company, Republic Bancshares, before BB&T acquired it in 2004. He founded and led William R. Hough & Co., a municipal bond firm in St. Petersburg that RBC Dain Rauscher of Minneapolis bought in 2004.

In 1948, he was a graduate of the college's first class of students in the master's of business administration program.

Hough's gift, eligible for up to $20-million in state matching grants, will go toward construction of a new building for graduate business programs. It also will be used for improvements in teaching and curriculum.

If state leaders give approval, the graduate school will be named the Hough Graduate School of Business, and the new building will be named Wiliam R. Hough Hall.

"I was moved by the professors I had in graduate school," Hough said during a press conference. "They taught us the fundamentals of the practical securities business and prepared me to be a successful broker and investor."