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Small Kentucky liberal arts college gets $250 million donation

Students leave the Norton Center for the Arts on the Centre College campus, a day before the vice-presidential debate, in Danville, Kentucky
Students leave the Norton Center for the Arts on the Centre College campus, a day before the vice-presidential debate, in Danville, Kentucky

By Tim Ghianni

(Reuters) - Centre College, a tiny school in Kentucky that has hosted vice presidential election debates, announced on Tuesday a $250 million donation from a computer company founder's family foundation, which the college said was the largest ever to a liberal arts institution.

The gift from the A. Eugene Brockman Charitable Trust, named after the founder of Universal Computer Systems Inc, will fund 40 new Brockman Scholarships annually beginning next year, said the school, which expects an enrollment of 1,375 students this autumn.

"You could have knocked me over with a feather," said Richard Trollinger, vice president for college relations at Centre College, of the moment he was told the size of the gift.

It is the largest gift to a liberal arts college in the history of U.S. higher education, and among the largest gifts ever given to any college or university of any type, he said.

The Brockman Trust said in a statement that it chose Centre College in part because the current chairman of the company, Bob Brockman, went to college there and the experience made a "tremendous impact" on him.

The gift is in stock in Universal Computer Systems Holding Inc., a provider of inventory management systems for the auto industry, which merged with Reynolds and Reynolds Co. in 2006.

Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, was founded by Presbyterians in 1819. Since 1967, the church has not financially supported the school, but there remains a close bond, according to Trollinger.

The college hosted the vice presidential debates in 2000 and 2012.

(Reporting Tim Ghianni; Editing by Greg McCune and Eric Beech)

(This story was refiled to fix the spelling of college to Centre throughout)

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