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A Home for Public Service
$5 Million Donation Funds New Facility to House Bob Graham Center
“Bob and I have been friends for more than 50 years, and my wife and I want to support the Bob Graham Center,” says Pugh, who earned his bachelor’s degree in building construction from UF in 1963. “We feel this is an opportune time to do something for Bob Graham and the University of Florida.” Pugh and Graham met at UF as fraternity brothers in Sigma Nu.
Pugh Hall will be constructed between Newell and Dauer Halls on UF’s campus. With anticipated matching state funds, construction should start this summer and be completed next year.
“This generous donation from Jim and Alexis Pugh is an example of the strong leadership commitment our alumni have in supporting the University of Florida,” says UF President Bernie Machen. “UF continues to attract the brightest scholars to teach our exceptional students and conduct research in high-profile areas, and the Bob Graham Center at Pugh Hall will play a pivotal role in maintaining our high standards.”
Pugh was a US Army Airborne Ranger from 1963–1966 and commander of a Special Forces unit. Since 1970, he has owned Epoch Properties, a company that builds hotels, time-shares and rental housing, developing more than 30,000 multi-family living units in 56 cities from Florida to California. He also is the chairman of Epoch Management, a comprehensive real estate management firm established in 1973.
Alexis Pugh has more than 30 years experience in advertising and public relations, having worked with various agencies in Atlanta, Washington, DC and Orlando. She is the owner of Lakeshore Advertising Consultants in Orlando, which designs and produces collateral materials for clients in the multi-family housing industry. She also has volunteered with numerous community organizations, serving as a founding board member of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida and a member of the board of trustees for Bethune-Cookman College and the United Arts of Central Florida.
“With the Pugh’s timely gift, we will construct a building that will serve as a focal point for one of the major entrances to the campus’ historic district,” says Neil Sullivan, dean of UF’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “The Bob Graham Center will serve as a magnet to attract and host distinguished scholars, international leaders and policy makers to create a dynamic pool that will help train UF students for leadership positions in public service.”
Graham, who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from UF in 1959, is working with UF and the University of Miami to create two centers that will focus on public leadership, the Americas and homeland security. The mission of the Graham Center at UF will be to provide students with the broad training necessary for careers in the public sector. Research on public policies and the policy making process will be conducted, as well as promoting the public discussion of important policy issues facing the state, nation and the world.
Other proposed components include new degree programs and certificates in public policy and public affairs, a Statesman-in-Residence Program and a leadership institute.
Graham retired from the US Senate in January after serving for 18 years and also served as Florida’s governor for two terms from 1979 to 1987. He is teaching at Harvard University for the 2005–2006 academic year.