Bruce Lunsford Pledges $1M to Establish Scholarship Program


By Jenny Wells-Hosley and Lindsey Piercy

University of Kentucky alumnus and successful Kentucky businessman Bruce Lunsford has pledged $1 million to establish the W. Bruce Lunsford Scholars Program in Citizenship and Public Service at UK. The program will support dynamic learning opportunities for students that emphasize citizenship, democracy, public service and government affairs.

The Lunsford Scholarships will allow students from the UK College of Arts and Sciences to take advantage of high-impact learning opportunities including internships, education abroad, undergraduate research and service-based learning in the Commonwealth and beyond. The gift will also fund an annual symposium and speaker series.

“I am grateful and delighted that Bruce Lunsford has established this innovative program to support the intellectual and professional development of undergraduate students,” said Mark Lawrence Kornbluh, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The Lunsford Scholars Program is a testament to Bruce’s lifelong passion for public service.” 

The College of Arts and Sciences will award Lunsford Scholarships on a competitive basis. Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and at least 60 earned credit hours at the time of their scholarship. Demonstrated financial need will be also be a criterion for selection to ensure that all eligible students have access to these experiences. 

“Lunsford Scholars will actively participate in a range of learning experiences that will help them apply classroom lessons in a real-world setting, from Capitol Hill and NASA to an NGO in Cape Town or the Houses of Parliament in London,” Kornbluh said. “These opportunities will not only prepare them for their future but will inspire our next generation of leaders.”

Lunsford was born in Northern Kentucky and arrived on the UK campus in 1965. While at UK, he worked as an intramural adviser and was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. He graduated in 1969 with a bachelor's degree in political science and a minor in accounting.

After graduation, Lunsford went to work for an accounting firm in Cincinnati and became a certified public accountant in 1970. He then continued to take classes at the Salmon P. Chase College of Law, graduating in 1974 among the top 10% of his class. 

Lunsford is known as an entrepreneur, businessman and thoroughbred owner who has founded and led numerous companies in Louisville for nearly 40 years. These companies eventually employed more than 100,000 individuals nationwide and included Vencor Inc., a Fortune 500 health care company that became Kindred; Ventas Inc., a health care REIT listed on the NYSE; Atria Communities; and Lunsford Capital.

From 1983 to 1987, Lunsford was a member of the UK Board of Trustees, and from 1991 to 2017 he served as a board member for a variety of companies, including Churchill Downs, ResCare, Zirmed and National City Corporation. He is a current member of the board of directors of AeroCare, Arcadia Communities, Vita-Stat, SentryHealth and the Breeders’ Cup Limited.

Throughout his career, Lunsford has had a strong interest in public service, beginning with his role in the administration of Gov. John Y. Brown Jr., as Kentucky’s Secretary of Commerce from 1981 to 1983. He has been a member of the board of trustees of Bellarmine College, Centre College and Salmon P. Chase College of Law, as well as chairman of Kentucky Country Day School and the Kentucky Economic Development Corporation.

In 2018, Lunsford was inducted into the UK College of Arts and Sciences' Hall of Fame.

Lunsford's gift also advanced Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign, a comprehensive campaign focused on increasing opportunities for student success, funding innovative research, improving health care, strengthening our alumni network, and supporting our athletic programs.

This story originally appeared Aug. 5 in UKNOW.

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