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Couple adds to $2 million gift to make up for losses during recession

 GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When former teachers Bill and Robbie Hedges saw their 2005 donation of almost $2 million to the University of Florida’s College of Education drop in value during the global financial crisis in recent years, they feared the education research supported by their gift would suffer from the reduced funding.

College officials announced today that the retired Gainesville couple has added another $63,000 to their endowed research fund to restore its value to previous levels.

Bill and Robbie Hedges

“We had hoped our gift would grow (through the university foundation’s investment program), but the stock market tanked shortly after we made it,” said Bill Hedges, a retired professor emeritus at the College of Education. “We had some stocks that appreciated, so we decided to add another contribution to make up for the loss. We wanted to keep the research fund strong.”

Hedges and his wife committed more than $1.9 million to the college six years ago to support research aiding slow learners. It was the second largest individual donation ever made to the College of Education. Their gift was made in the form of a charitable remainder trust, which provides them with a variable income for life until the trust terminates, when the remaining assets will be transferred to the college.

The resulting William D. and Robbie F. Hedges Research Fund will support sorely needed studies to develop better teaching methods and curriculum materials for marginal students who fall behind, become discouraged and tend to drop out of school before graduation. The Hedges’ latest gift will boost the amount of annual interest earned on the total fund value.

“We hope to generate more attention and research that yields a more pleasant and productive educational experience for this frequently overlooked and neglected segment of our school population,” said Hedges, who spent the final 20 years of his half-century teaching career on UF’s educational leadership faculty before retiring as professor emeritus in 1991. Robbie Hedges gave up teaching to raise their two sons in 1971 after they moved to Gainesville for her husband’s new UF faculty appointment.

“This gift is a testament to the Hedges’ belief that all children need specialized attention to their learning needs if they are to succeed in school and society,” said Tom Dana, associate dean for academic affairs at UF’s College of Education. “Their contribution will fund research that can make a significant difference in kids’ lives.”


WRITER/MEDIA RELATIONS: Larry Lansford, director, COE News & Communications, llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137