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Thursday, July 07, 2022

Lee Wetherington didn’t go to UF, but he’s a Gator fan.

That’s why Wetherington said it was an easy choice to promise a $1 million donation to the College of Journalism and Communications last week.

Because the donation is a bequest, it is uncertain when the money will be acquired, said the college’s dean, Diane McFarlin.

Wetherington is the founder of Lee Wetherington Homes in Sarasota.

The money, which will come from the Lee Wetherington Foundation, will go toward supporting studies in investigative journalism.

McFarlin said she hopes to use it to hire a faculty member, create more access to public information and expand a data journalism program.

"It will enable us to support something that is very central to both our profession and our country," she said. "Investigative reporting is critical to an informed public."

UF journalism senior Ashley Lombardo said she’s glad the college is getting the money but wishes it could be used to expand the online journalism curriculum.

"It would be wonderful if we could expand the curriculum to include other kinds of journalism that are becoming more prevalent," the 21-year-old said.

Wetherington said he decided to give his money to the investigative journalism program after speaking to McFarlin, his friend of 20 years.

"I’ve been fortunate enough to have been successful, and I’ve always felt that you need to give back to the community," he said.

"I couldn’t think of a better place than the University of Florida."

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Contact Alexandra Fernandez at afernandez@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @alexmfern

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