JACKSONVILLE--Prominent Jacksonville business executive Luther Coggin and his wife, Blanche, today announced a $5 million gift to the University of North Florida’s College of Business Administration. In recognition of the gift, the University will name the College of Business Administration in their honor.
With an expected one-for-one state match, the gift will yield $10 million, making it the largest in University history and one of the largest in history of the metro area. The Coggins took advantage of the leverage of the state’s Major Gift Challenge Grant program to reach the $10 million level required to name a college at UNF.
The gift also means that UNF’s capital campaign, Access to Excellence has already exceeded its $65 million goal more than a year ahead of schedule. With the latest gift, the total raised in the campaign is $74 million.
UNF Interim President David Kline said the Coggins’ gift will be instrumental in providing scholarships and professorships that will enable the College of Business Administration to play an even more significant role in the life of northeast Florida. “A gift of this magnitude is unprecedented in University history and is a significant milestone for UNF especially as we celebrate our 30th anniversary. The Coggins’ long history of generosity to this institution is an inspiration to all of us. We are grateful for the gift and honored by their expression of commitment to the future of this University,” he said.
“For 30 years,” the Coggins said, “UNF has been and is today, exemplary of the great contributions a new institution can make to its community and to higher education. We are honored . . . to be able to provide additional funds to enable the School of Business faculty to teach and its students to learn the pathways to the world of free enterprise.”
COBA Dean Earle Traynham said, “Merit-based scholarships and fellowships will help to attract outstanding students while the endowed professorships will aid in the recruitment of top-level academics. The faculty and I are extremely proud to have the Coggin name associated with the College. The quality and reputation inherent in this widely recognized name will heighten the University’s own visibility in the region and across the country. With this naming, the College is now even better positioned to develop a national reputation.”
Under terms of the gift, $1.25 million will be used to endow merit-based scholarships for entering freshmen; $500,000 to endow graduate fellowships; $250,000 to endow need-based Pathways to Success Scholarships; $1 million to endow a distinguished dean professorship; and $2 million to endow strategic professorships in the college. Each of these amounts will be doubled with the state’s Major Gifts Challenge Grant Program.
Coggin, who is also a member of the UNF Board of Trustees, has a long history of philanthropy at UNF. In 1997, the Coggins made a $350,000 gift to UNF which also was used to fund scholarships and a professorship as well as purchase equipment for the college’s new building.The Coggin name is well known in the area because of his long association with the auto industry. Coggin began his automotive career in 1948 at age 17 as a salesman in Birmingham, Alabama and later became general manager of a large Oldsmobile dealership in Marianna, Florida. In 1968, he moved to Jacksonville and opened Coggin Pontiac with 40 employees.
He expanded his business and purchased dealerships in Orlando and Ft. Pierce. By 1997, Coggin Automotive grew to more than $500 million in revenues with 11 dealerships.Coggin sold his auto dealerships in 1998 to Asbury Automotive Group Inc., a Connecticut-based car dealership company that includes the Coggin dealerships. Today, it is the largest subsidiary of Asbury with more than $800 million in revenue, 16 dealerships and 1,200 employees.
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