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UF makes bank with $5 million Banks family donation

UF plans to continue its rise toward national preeminence with the help of a new donation intended to promote hiring and research.

UF alumnus Andrew Banks, his wife Pamela and their family committed $5 million to the university, inspired by the recent drive to reinforce UF’s national position as a premier university, UF officials recently announced.

“The Banks family recognized the importance of UF rising in national stature, and they have stepped forward to make that a reality,” said UF spokesman Steve Orlando.

The Florida Legislature recently signed a bill designating UF as one of the state’s preeminent universities and providing $15 million annually for the next five years to support the university’s goal of becoming a top U.S. public research institution.

The university will match the $75-million, in-state funding as part of the UF Preeminence Plan, said Tom Mitchell, vice president for development and alumni affairs.

“This is a group of leaders that have come together to launch a shared vision: enhancing UF’s position among the best public research universities in the country,” he said. Part of the Banks’ gift will endow faculty positions.

During the next five years, UF is planning to create at least 100 more faculty endowments, bringing the university’s total to 500.

The family was one of the first to support UF’s Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars program, which provides scholarships to first-generation college students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

“These individuals will be scholars in their field that will attract the brightest and the best students,” Mitchell said. “They will attract research funding. They will attract other prominent faculty in the field and enhance our position among the best.”

[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 2/25/2014 under the headline “UF makes bank with $5 million Banks family donation"]

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