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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

UF’s chemistry building loses name without a clear reason why

Chemistry Building


UF’s Joseph Hernandez Hall has lost its name. It’s unclear why.

The UF chemistry building, named after UF alumnus and biotechnology entrepreneur Joseph Hernandez, had its name removed Nov. 6, but the reasons for the change have not been confirmed.

Hernandez owes $74,000 in tax debt to Alachua County for the Gainesville Country Club, as first reported by WCJB news. Hernandez purchased the club under his real estate company, Blue Water Real Estate Holdings, according to the tax collector’s website.

There is no word on what the building’s new name will be. 

UF’s director of issues management and crisis communications Hessy Fernandez said in a statement that Hernandez offered to create a new donation to support students facing challenges due to COVID-19. 

This donation was separate from the $10 million he pledged to UF in 2016 to help complete construction of the building.

Fernandez would not confirm how much of the pledge had been donated. 

“We have mutually agreed to release Mr. Hernandez from his previous commitment, and as a result of these changes, remove his name from Hernandez Hall,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez would not comment on when Hernandez requested to change the initial commitment or the value of Hernandez’s COVID-19-inspired donation.

“While these individual agreements and any potential changes to them are confidential, UF always strives to keep our donors’ wishes and best interests in mind while balancing the priorities of the university,” she said.

Hernandez obtained a bachelor’s at UF in neuroscience in 1996 and two master’s degrees in business administration and medical sciences in 1998. At 43, he became the youngest person to make a donation that large to UF.

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That gift led to the naming of the chemistry building, which cost more than $66 million. The 110,000-square-foot building, located near Library West, opened in April 2017.

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