Sheys partner with UF to create 657-acre conference retreat center

September 5, 2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla --- A prominent Gainesville-area couple who are longtime University of Florida supporters have committed to transfer their house and 657 acres of pristine conservation land to the university, allowing UF eventually to create a conference retreat center west of the campus that could host symposiums and other academic events advancing UF’s mission.

Stephen and Carol Shey will continue to live on and maintain the property for a period yet to be determined, after which UF will assume oversight. The property, including a 12,000-square-foot house, is located near the intersection of Millhopper Road and County Road 241.

The Sheys’ collaboration with UF includes plans to donate artwork to UF’s Harn Museum of Art through the family’s private foundation. The Sheys are patrons of the arts and avid collectors and have been major supporters of the Harn for many years.

“We are deeply grateful to Steve and Carol for their commitment to advancing the University of Florida’s mission with this generous gift,” UF President Bernie Machen said. “This partnership will allow us to plan a conference retreat center that will enhance our ability to host distinguished faculty and other guests for workshops, lectures and symposiums in a beautiful setting.

“The Sheys’ magnificent artwork – as it becomes available – will richly and meaningfully enhance the Harn and its collection,” Machen added. “Future generations will benefit greatly from the couple’s careful and thoughtful acquisitions over the many years they spent building, shaping and curating what is truly a world-class collection.”

Said the Sheys: “We have enjoyed a lifetime of fond memories over the past 49 years, while living in Gainesville and in our association with the University of Florida. During this time, we have been fortunate enough to live on one of the most incredibly spectacular sites in Alachua County.

“We consider ourselves to be temporary caretakers residing on this one-of-a-kind property, and it is our hope that through this partnership with the university, its future custodians, we will be able to continue to play a part in creating wonderful experiences for generations to come,” the Sheys added. “We and our family look forward to taking this next journey in assisting the University of Florida and Alachua County in creating a home away from campus for the eventual pleasure and educational benefit of others.”

The Sheys moved to Gainesville from New York in 1965 and founded Shey Associates, one of North Central Florida’s first and most successful property management and development companies. In 1989, they established the Shey Charitable Foundation to benefit the preservation and expansion of the arts and medical research.

The Sheys, who have created funds and endowments at UF supporting the Harn Museum, the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the Florida Museum of Natural History and a professorship in anatomy and cell biology, received the university’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 2006.