Banks family commits $5 million to support University of Florida's preeminence initiative

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Inspired by the University of Florida’s quest to be a top-10 public research university, Andrew and Pamela Banks and their family committed $5 million to support faculty, research and teaching, UF officials announced today.

The Banks Family Preeminence Chairs will endow faculty positions, each strategically placed to advance teaching, research and academic programs.

Establishing faculty endowments is the cornerstone of UF Preeminence, the university’s $800 million fundraising initiative to help UF reinforce its standing as a premier university. Such endowments help UF retain and recruit exceptional faculty members by providing funding for lab equipment, graduate assistants and program enhancements.

The university hopes to create more than 100 additional faculty endowments during the next five years to bring the total to 500.

“Our preeminence plan is one of the most important initiatives ever undertaken for this university,” UF President Bernie Machen said. “The Banks family’s support for this campaign will help us build momentum to hire distinguished faculty, while giving them the resources needed to advance research and scholarship.”

UF Faculty Senate Chair Marc Heft said the gift will have far-reaching benefits.

“Years from now, we’ll look back on this incredible gift from the Banks family and know that it directly helped UF find a cure for a major disease or led to a discovery that helped change society,” Heft said. “That’s how important this gift is to the university. A great university is defined by its faculty, and this gift will support faculty whose research and teaching has the potential to change the world.”

Andrew and Pamela Banks of Bermuda have a strong legacy of philanthropy and service to the university. Their family was among the first to support UF’s Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars program, which provides scholarships to talented students from disadvantaged economic backgrounds and are the first in their families to attend college. Andrew Banks also serves as chairman of the board of directors of the University of Florida Investment Corporation. UFICO manages assets totaling more than $2.4 billion.

“President Machen’s compelling vision for the University of Florida demands that we act now to fulfill the university’s potential for academic excellence. UF is at the threshold of truly extraordinary advances. Our family is blessed to be able to join with other loyal members of The Gator Nation in supporting this Preeminence Initiative,” Andrew Banks said.

Andrew Banks earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from UF in 1976 and was selected as a Rhodes Scholar to study at Oxford University, where he received a master’s degree. He then earned his juris doctorate at the Harvard Law School. He is co-founder and former chairman of the equity investment firm ABRY Partners. Dame Pamela Gordon Banks is the first woman and youngest person to have served as premier of Bermuda. The Banks family includes four children and three grandchildren.