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A Home for Public Service
Doors Open to Jim and Alexis Pugh Hall
Equipped with the latest technology and features of our time, the 40,000-square-foot facility honors its stately neighbors in its exterior design—blending the modern and traditional in a style that is all its own. It should be no surprise, then, to learn the new campus treasure was commissioned by one of the state’s most prominent building professionals, Jim Pugh, and his wife Alexis, who has led a distinguished career developing multi-family housing across the nation.
“We are most impressed with the design,” said Pugh, a 1963 UF building construction alumnus, in praise of the design team Ponikvar & Associates and Charles Perry Construction. “It’s a new building in the old part of campus with a timeless design, so it fits in nicely among the beautiful old buildings.”
The Pughs were looking for a way to contribute to the university when they learned former Florida Governor and retired U.S. Senator Bob Graham, a 1959 political science alumnus, was planning to establish the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at UF. Graham and Mr. Pugh were fraternity brothers in Sigma Nu during their undergraduate years, and even then Pugh knew he would find a way to some day give back to his alma mater.
“This was a natural way to support Graham—my friend of 50 years—and the creation of a place for students to study functioning democratic governance,” Pugh said. “I hope between Bob Graham, Alexis and I, we can inspire some students with this magnificent building and Bob’s vision and legacy.”
In addition to housing the Graham Center, Pugh Hall is also home to the Department of African and Asian Languages and Literatures, which promotes a better understanding of non-Western languages and cultures, and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, which preserves eyewitness accounts of Florida history. These three programs unite in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ mission to advance the understanding of our world and our place within it.
Classes began meeting in Pugh Hall at the beginning of the spring semester in January, and more than 200 people gathered to celebrate its grand opening a month later. Mr. and Mrs. Pugh surprised the audience during the ceremony by pledging another $1 million to name the building’s auditorium in honor of former Florida Governor Buddy MacKay, and his wife Ann. All who participated in the event noted the humble generosity of the Pughs.
“The word philanthropist is a very important word,” said UF President Bernie Machen. “It means to do good with the resources they have on this earth, and that’s what they have done.”