From its early days as an agricultural and mechanical college to its prominent place today as one of the nation’s leading educational institutions, the University of Kentucky has enhanced the lives of countless individuals within the state’s borders and far beyond.
To achieve its reputation for academic excellence, the University has had to supplement state support with private gifts since its founding nearly 150 years ago.
The University of Kentucky Fellows Society was created to encourage greater private support for the institution and to recognize donors who are helping the University advance its mission of education, research and service. The Fellows Society honors those alumni, friends, corporations, foundations and organizations that provide generous support for the University, its important programs and its many deserving students.
With the private support of many Kentuckians, a great University was built in the Commonwealth out of the ashes of the Civil War. John Bryan Bowman – the force behind the founding of the institution that was to become the University of Kentucky – rode on horseback through the central Kentucky countryside in 1865 inspiring others to join his quest to establish an educational institution equal to any in America.
Bowman was an attorney and farmer from Harrodsburg, and in less than two months, he secured more than $100,000 in gifts and pledges. With the personal commitment of more than 150 farmers and townspeople, Bowman amassed the financial capability to purchase the grounds and erect the buildings for the new University in Lexington.
These philanthropic gifts from Kentucky citizens began the University’s distinguished tradition of private support. During the many decades that have followed, the University has continued to grow in size and prominence due in no small measure to the generosity of those who believe – as Bowman and others did – in the limitless potential of the University of Kentucky.
The University of Kentucky development program had its beginning in the University’s centennial year of 1965. The institution’s 100th anniversary was cause for celebration as well as for contemplation of the future and how to enhance the University as it entered its second century of service.
Then, as now, securing support for the University from the private sector was given priority. Alumni and friends from throughout the country were recruited to help in the effort. The UK Development Council was created and before 1966 had passed, the Council formed the UK Fellows program to recognize donors for significant contributions to the University. Between December 1966 and June 1968, the University enrolled 41 Fellows who committed a total of $2,500,000 in gifts.
This magnificent beginning grew into a program that has been a mainstay in the University’s fundraising effort for more than 45 years. In 1992, the program was broadened to include corporate and foundation donors. And now, because of the continued and increasing need for private support, three new levels of recognition – Frank LeRond McVey, Frank G. Dickey and Commonwealth Fellows – have been created. These additions signal a new era in the University’s continuing quest to recognize in a meaningful way all who provide generous and enduring support.
University Fellows give $10,000 – $24,999 in cash or cash equivalent, or put in place a deferred gift of $50,000 or more. No University Fellows will be added in the future as the minimum gift required to
become a member of the UK Fellows Society is now $25,000. This is the first modification made to the minimum Fellows membership gift requirement since the program was begun in 1966.
Frank LeRond McVey Fellows give $25,000 – $49,999 in cash or cash equivalent, or put in place a deferred gift of $125,000 or more. Alumni and friends may be recognized as McVey Fellows. This new minimum for Fellows recognition was established to correlate with the University’s endowment funding minimums.
Henry Stites Barker Fellows give $50,000 – $99,999 in cash or cash equivalent, or put in place a deferred gift of $250,000 or more. Recognition of corporations, foundations, trusts and organizations begins at the Barker Fellows level.
Frank G. Dickey Fellows give $100,000 – $249,999 in cash or cash equivalent, or put in place a deferred gift of $500,000 or more.
John Bryan Bowman Fellows give $250,000 – $499,999 in cash or cash equivalent, or put in place a deferred gift of $1,250,000 or more.
James Kennedy Patterson Fellows give $500,000 – $999,999 in cash or cash equivalent, or put in place a deferred gift of $2,500,000 or more.
Presidential Fellows give $1,000,000 – $4,999,999 in cash or cash equivalent, or put in place a deferred gift of $5,000,000 or more.
Commonwealth Fellows give $5,000,000 or more in cash or cash equivalent, or put in place a deferred gift of $25,000,000 or more.