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Flagler College receives $12 million transformational gift from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust to move its campus forward

May 17, 2022

Flagler College is poised to make key investments in its future, thanks to a $12 million, 3-1 matching gift to be paid over four years from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust. This gift marks the largest single donation to Flagler College since its inception.

The Kenan Trust’s gift will result in 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, specifically the former Hotel Ponce de Leon.

$7 million of the gift will be directed to addressing areas of improvement to the Ponce, to include 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, including a new Enterprise Resource Planning and Student Information System (ERP), which will streamline student registration, optimize students’ schedules, and generate financial statements and budgets, all with a modern interface to meet students where they live electronically – on their mobile devices.

$2 million of the Kenan Trust’s 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.  $1 million is also available to match donors interested in providing enhancements to the Flagler Sophomore High Impact Program (known as FlagSHIP), which aims to deliver educational experiences that benefit the entire student population.  Students enrolled in FlagSHIP courses take part in experiential learning opportunities that combine classroom study and real-world experiences, people, and issues: including guided field research, service learning embedded in communities, as well as domestic and international travel. 

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.  Support to this fund allows the College to address its most pressing priorities and provide seed funding to pilot new and exciting programs to move Flagler forward.

“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 and we know this landmark gift will have a lasting impact on our students and our facilities,” said Flagler College President John Delaney.  “We are thankful to the Kenan Trust for their trust, partnership, and support.”

The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust has had a long-standing partnership with Flagler College.  The Trust has played a key role in the College’s development, providing many grants throughout the years. The relationship between Flagler College and the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust goes back to the founding of Flagler College and its first major project - the renovation of Kenan Hall (1982), named for William R. Kenan, Jr.  Without question, the renovation of Kenan Hall is one of the most important milestones in the College's history.  The second most important milestone was the construction of the Proctor Library (1996), funded largely by a grant from the Kenan Trust.  Other projects in which the Kenan Trust has participated include the restoration of the Dining Room, the Rotunda, and the 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).

Kenan Trust Trustee Thomas Kenan quoted William R. Kenan, Jr.: “A good education is the most cherished gift a young person can receive.”  Tom Kenan went on to say, “We, at the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust 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.  We know Flagler College will take this gift and multiply it to provide a world-class education to its students.”

For more information on how you can join Saints worldwide in making a difference on Flagler’s campus, please visit or contact the Flagler College Office of Institutional Advancement at 904-819-6437.


About the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust

Throughout its more than 50 years of operation, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust has embarked on numerous multisector partnerships, and served as a facilitator of, and contributor to, national conversations about pressing issues of the day—America’s struggling education system, the socioeconomic challenges facing underserved communities, breaking the cycle of poverty. The Trust has focused on initiatives that improve literacy and college preparedness, contribute to community-building and economic vitality, and inspire a sense of collective purpose and shared humanity.

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