It’s the holiday season and one anonymous donor felt that Christmas should come early for the Florida Gators.
On Friday, the school announced a $12.5 million dollar donation from an anonymous donor that will go towards the completion of the previously announced state-of-the-art academic center in 2015.
The donation is the single largest individual gift ever received by the University Athletics Association that along with an additional $12.5 million in gifts will provide a total of $25 million dollars to bring forth the new academic center.
Housed in Farrior Hall, the building formerly known as the Office of Student Life, will be renamed the Otis Hawkins Center for Academic and Personal Excellence.
“This gift was made in honor of Otis Hawkins and his family,” the donor said. “Otis was one of the earliest Gator Boosters and fervently believed each student-athlete should be fully supported in their academic as well as their athletic pursuits.”
The project plans to double the building’s square footage and include 50 tutoring rooms, three computer labs, a 100-plus-seat classroom, a nutrition wing and sports medicine research area that all 480 Gator student-athletes can use.
Florida student-athletes posted an 83 percent graduation success rate in the most recent data released by the NCAA. Last year, 280 Gator athletes earned a spot on the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll, and the entire student-athlete body combined for a 3.06 GPA in the spring. UF is the only school in the SEC to have 100 or more SEC Academic Roll Honor Roll honorees for the last 17 years, and 93 Gators have been named Academic All-American.
“We want our student-athletes to be champions on the field, court and in the pool – and in their lives and professions after graduation,” UF President Bernie Machen said. “This new center will bring together and enhance our learning and career services for these students, ensuring they have every opportunity for academic as well as athletic excellence.”
Construction is set to begin in March, when the Gators will have roughly $87 million dollars in renovations taking place on campus between this endeavor, a $50 million dollar renovation to the O’Connell Center and an indoor practice facility that is progressing quickly through the planning period.