A pioneering MBA

Published: June 24th, 2008

Category: Spotlights

William R. "Bill" Hough

William R. “Bill” Hough

Warrington College of Business Administration

What do you do once you’ve made the long climb to the top of the ladder of success?

In Bill Hough’s case, the answer is simple: You turn around and offer a hand to those making their way up.

“Giving back is only fair,” Hough said. “UF educated me to succeed and I feel I owe it to give back.

William R. “Bill” Hough has been giving back ever since he graduated as a member of the University of Florida’s first master’s of business administration class in 1948. He made history again in January with a $30 million gift to support graduate business programs, making him the donor of the largest private gift the university has received. The gift will fund the creation of a new school to bear his name, and $5 million of it will be the lead gift for a building that will house graduate programs.

Hough said he still feels indebted to UF teachers who gave him the tools he needed to build his fortune, such as professor Jim Richardson, who taught him the Graham-Dodd philosophy of investing.

“I was moved by the professors I had in graduate school,” Hough said. “They taught us fundamentals of the practical securities business and prepared me to be a successful broker and investor. I feel good about the students who will benefit because of my gift. I take pride in UF’s business school, and am pleased and proud to have my name on the Graduate School” of Business.

Hough built his reputation in the finance world as founder of the investment banking firm William R. Hough & Co., which he operated for 38 years in St. Petersburg, Fla. The company specialized in municipal bond issues and merged with RBC Dain Rauscher Inc. in 2004. Hough, who lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Hazel, continued with the firm as a financial consultant.

Hough has been a friend and catalyst for innovation at the business school for many years, said College of Business Dean John Kraft, serving on Warrington’s Business Advisory Council since 1989. Hough told students he would like to see a strong graduate program at UF that would ensure the state can retain up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

“I know that a lot of the fellas and girls that graduate in finance have their eye on Wall Street,” he said, “but I want to tell you, I made my success right here in Florida.”

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