Responding to the University of Florida’s aspiration to be one of the nation’s top 10 public universities and its business college’s goal to be regarded among the best of its kind, entrepreneur and UF alumnus Al Warrington IV and his wife, Judy, committed $75 million that represents the largest gift in UF history.
The Warringtons announced their commitment Friday night on campus. The gift will make Warrington, for whom UF’s business college is named, UF’s first $100 million donor.
Warrington, 78, the first in his family to graduate from college, earned his University of Florida degree in 1958. For more than 30 years thereafter, he worked in numerous leadership positions with the accounting firm Arthur Andersen & Co. He left the firm in 1989 to create the Houston-based environmental company Sanifill Inc. After a series of mergers, Sanifill evolved to become the new Waste Management Inc., the nation’s largest environmental services company, with headquarters in Houston.
Warrington is also one of the founders of the Atlanta-based health and beauty aids manufacturer House of Cheatham Inc. Likewise, he is a founding member of Houston Plating and Coatings.
“Judy and I gave a lot of thought on how best to ensure continued growth and excellence at our great university. To that end, we challenged ourselves to think big and concluded our greatest impact would be to invest in our business college’s faculty,” Warrington said.
Warrington started working at the age of 8 delivering newspapers in suburban Philadelphia. He had planned to attend a university that offered him a scholarship but left for the University of Florida at his father’s urging. Warrington worked his way through school with jobs that included cleaning fraternity houses.
“Al and Judy Warrington have a uniquely strong bond with the University of Florida, and they and I share a similar vision for UF’s future among the nation’s top public universities,” UF President Bernie Machen said. “By elevating education, enhancing research and enriching the experience of students on our campus, the Warringtons’ remarkable gift will do a great deal to advance that vision.”
As a member of the business college’s original advisory council, Warrington was instrumental in creating the UF Fisher School of Accounting, now recognized as one of the best in the country. He was a founding member of the UF Board of Trustees, president of both the UF Alumni Association and Gator Boosters, and a member of the UF Foundation board of directors.
“It’s no stretch to say UF’s business college is one of the most respected in the world today because of Al Warrington. Our excellence is a direct reflection of his and Judy’s commitment to quality education,” Dean John Kraft said. “Having the Warrington name associated with this college is a privilege and a reminder to our graduates and students that hard work, ingenuity and integrity are ingredients to success in life.”
The Warringtons’ latest gift will increase an endowment for business professors that supports curriculum development, research agendas and other activities that contribute to world-class research and teaching.