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Rural College Loses Potentially Historic $250M Gift for Scholarships

We took note this summer when a small rural Kentucky college announced it would be the recipient of one of the biggest financial gifts in the history of higher education.

Now, Centre College in Danville, Ky., is receiving national attention because of a Monday announcement that the $250 million donation wasn't going to happen. The donor, the A. Eugene Brockman Charitable Trust, didn't have that money.

The money was supposed to fund 160 scholarships over four years, and it would've covered recipients' tuition, room and board, and study abroad or internships. It was a significant investment because rural college enrollment rates lag the national average.

Centre College said the trust's intention to fund the program was linked to a "significant capital market event," and the reason why that didn't happen has more to do with finance than education. The New York Times does a good job of explaining it, if you're interested.

The college's president, John Roush, is quoted in that story as saying, "The transaction that was moving forward simply was put aside, and because of that decision, the gift that would have flowed to the college has been withdrawn. We're not trying to suggest this is anything other than a disappointing day."

In a separate story by The Lexington Herald-Leader, Roush said Centre would survive the embarrassment of having the gift withdrawn.

"Centre remains a remarkable place with an exceedingly bright future," he said in the article.

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