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Kenan Trust Makes Largest Gift in Flagler College History

Jul 12, 2022
by Beth Sweeny, '05 | Photography By Zach Thomas, '00

In the largest gift in Flagler College's more than 50-year history, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust has made a $12 million, 3-1 matching gift that will help make key investments in the College's future.

Thomas S. Kenan III
Thomas S. Kenan III

“A good education is the most cherished gift a young person can receive,” said Kenan Trust Trustee Thomas S. Kenan III quoting William R. Kenan, Jr. “We are delighted to partner with Flagler College to carry on this dream, which was also envisioned by the late Lawrence Lewis, Jr., as well as his sister Mary Lily Flagler Wiley, who once served as a trustee for the Kenan Trust.”

The Kenan Trust's gift will be the stimulus for an additional $36 million to address issues critical to the student experience, including increased student financial aid, academic program enhancements, technological infrastructure and the restoration, preservation and better utilization of the campus's historic buildings like the former Hotel Ponce de Leon.

A total of $7 million of the gift will be directed to addressing areas of improvement to the Ponce, including upgraded climate control, updated corridors, the creation of study lounges, community spaces for larger groups of students and enhancements to the historical elegance of the National Historic Landmark building.

The overall effort will ensure an environment that is conducive to meeting student and personnel needs while continuing the College's reputation for best practices in historic preservation. In addition, $500,000 will be used to create classrooms and studio space for the Music program that the Kenan Trust helped establish at Flagler in 2018.

Capital dollars included in the gift will also allow the College to maintain its national standing as a leading regional liberal arts and pre-professional institution by making technological infrastructure improvements. The changes include a new Enterprise Resource Planning and Student Information System (ERP), which will streamline student registration, optimize students' schedules and generate financial statements and budgets.

In addition, $2 million of the gift will serve as a match to other donors in establishing up to 85 new endowed scholarships for students with financial need, as well as minority and first-generation college students. There is also $1 million available to match donors interested in providing enhancements to the Flagler Sophomore High Impact Program (known as FlagSHIP), which aims to deliver experiential learning opportunities that combine classroom study with real-world experiences, people and issues.

The remaining $1.5 million of the Kenan Trust's gift will be used to provide matching funds for annual support from alumni, parents, organizations, foundations and friends to the College's Flagler Fund.

“Flagler College has enjoyed remarkable successes in its first 50 years, with strong support from the Kenan Trust. Our hope is to provide every deserving student at Flagler the opportunity to not just survive, but to thrive on our campus,” said Flagler College President John Delaney. “We are thankful to the Kenan Trust for their trust, partnership and support.”

The Kenan Trust has had a long-standing partnership with Flagler, as it played a key role in the College's development through many grants over the years. The relationship goes

back to the founding of Flagler and its first major project – the renovation of Kenan Hall (1982), named for William R. Kenan, Jr.

The renovation of this academic building is one of the most important milestones in the College's history. The Trust also helped fund the construction of the Proctor Library in 1996, as well as the restoration of the Ponce's Dining Hall, Rotunda, and Grand Parlor (1989); the establishment of the Kenan Endowed Professorship Fund (2000); the renovation of the Molly Wiley Art Building (2007); a challenge grant to fund student scholarships (2011); the construction of Pollard Hall (2014); and providing start-up funds to launch Flagler College's Music minor (2018).

For more information on making a difference on Flagler's campus, visit or contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at 904-819-6437

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