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The Tracy Farmer Center for the Environment primarily will address environmental challenges that face Kentucky and surrounding regions.  The center will strive to attract experts from various disciplines while taking advantage of the university's existing resources.

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Aug. 15, 2000 – (Lexington, Ky.) –  Lexington-area horseman, banker and long-time entrepreneur Tracy Farmer is providing a $2 million gift to the University of Kentucky to establish a research and educational center that will assist public and private organizations in addressing environmental issues and developing solutions. The gift is eligible for an additional $2 million from the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Research Challenge Trust Fund, for a total of $4 million to create the new center. The announcement was made today during a news conference at the University of Kentucky.

 Through research, education and consultation – and in conjunction with private and public sectors – the Tracy Farmer Center for the Environment primarily will address environmental challenges that face Kentucky and surrounding regions. The center will strive to attract experts from various disciplines, while taking advantage of the university’s existing resources – providing a broad perspective on environmental research and education. It will be one of the few such centers in the nation that address the complex environmental issues facing its home state. Cornell’s Center for the Environment, Sonoma’s (Calif.) Institute for Community Planning Assistance, and Tennessee’s Energy, Environment and Resources Center are similar entities.

“Mr. Farmer’s gift, as well as his foresight, will enable the university to be a national leader in providing answers to some of the environmental challenges facing future generations,” said University of Kentucky President Charles T. Wethington Jr.  “The Center will provide a focus for interdisciplinary research and education, and provide a vehicle for developing and implementing new approaches and technologies to environmental problems and issues.”

Farmer, who served on the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees from 1979 to 1991, said his decision to provide the gift is based on his belief that Kentucky’s natural resources are vitally important to the state’s economy and overall quality of life. “I visualize the center as being about the future,” he said. “What we do today regarding the environment is the legacy we leave behind for our children. The goal of the center is to cultivate ideas and technology to address the many environmental challenges of this region.”

Research at the center will focus on short- and long-term environmental problems, including issues associated with water, land and air resources. Issues related to biological resources (such as biological habitat, endangered species, and ecosystem protection) and sociological resources (such as cultural heritage preservation and environmental policy and planning) also will be addressed at the center.

Wethington noted that the center would sponsor periodic seminars, featuring noted environmental speakers. “Interaction with these experts will provide a unique educational opportunity for both students and faculty,” he said. “And in many instances, the messages and insight from these speakers will help inspire the seminar participants in pursuing solutions for various environmental issues.”

The center’s mission will be threefold, focusing on the integration of research, service and education. The research component will provide a mechanism to filter and apply research – thereby producing technologies to address environmental problems.

The service component of the center will include a technology transfer program via publications, short courses and conferences, continuing education offerings, certificates, degree programs and the licensing of university-owned technologies. The center’s service component also will include a Technical Services Center, where professional staff will be available to field calls and requests for information – then align requests with the proper faculty member or researcher.

The educational component of the center will provide students information on the wide variety of educational and career opportunities in environmental fields and help recruit students to fill critical needs in both the public and private sectors.

Further, the center will serve as a source to enhance UK’s current environmental study curricula.

A national search for a director of the center will begin this fall. The university expects to have a director in place by July 1, 2001.

Farmer said he and his wife, Carol, have an acute interest in the environment and how it affects society. “For quite some time, Carol and I have discussed the concept of a research and education center for the environment,” he said.   “We talked to many experts and we found that there was no such center in Kentucky, and very few anywhere in the country. For the future of the Commonwealth, we must protect our natural resources, and, at the same time, explore ways that economic development and environmental concerns can co-exist. The center will help this effort become a reality.”

 Farmer, who owns Shadowlawn Farm – a thoroughbred horse farm in Midway, Ky., has long been active in Kentucky business and civic activities. He is the owner of one of the state’s largest new-automobile dealerships, Farmer Automotive Group, which operates Star Ford at Oxmoor and Oxmoor Toyota. Farmer Enterprises, founded in 1970, is a commercial real estate development and building management company.

He is also president of Lexington-Frankfort Scenic Corridor Inc., a citizen-based non-profit organization that focuses on preserving rural landscape in areas west of Lexington, and is vice chairman of Midway College in Midway, Ky.

Farmer was chairman of the Begley Co., formerly a Richmond, Kentucky-based drugstore chain. He is a former state Democratic Party chairman, has been involved in director and ownership roles at several Kentucky banks, and has owned numerous restaurants and shopping centers in the state. He is a native of Jackson County, Ky., and was raised in Lee County, Ky.

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