Gift to Centre College endows new lecture
DANVILLE, KY - Lexington philanthropist Lucille Caudill Little has made a challenge gift of $500,000 to Centre College that will endow a new lecture series named in honor of Kentucky civic leaders O. Leonard and Lillian H. Press. The college will launch the series in the fall, and historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. has agreed to deliver the inaugural lecture. Schlesinger will visit campus September 25, just prior to the vice presidential debate at Centre, and he will analyze the role of vice presidents in U.S. political affairs.
The college announced the gift and publicly recognized Little and the Presses this evening prior to the gala Boston Pops concert on campus. In order to qualify for Little's entire gift, Centre must raise matching funds in order to create a total endowment of $1 million to support the lecture series.
Schlesinger is a distinguished historian and political observer who served as advisor to national political figures including Adlai Stevenson and John F. Kennedy. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1946 for his book, The Age of Jackson, and again in 1966 for A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House. Another of Schlesinger's books, The Imperial Presidency, critiqued the Nixon presidency and introduced a new phrase into political commentary.
A native of Ohio, Schlesinger now lives in New York.
Little is a Kentucky native who established a charitable foundation based on family earnings in the horse and tobacco industries. She has played a pivotal role in the founding of numerous non-profit ventures, including the Lexington's Children's Theatre and Studio Players, the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra and the Living Arts and Science Center. Little has previously supported the arts at Centre, where a classroom is named in her honor in the Jones Visual Arts Center.
Little became a close friend of the Presses due to their mutual interest in the arts and education for Kentuckians. Leonard Press was the founding director of Kentucky Educational Television and pursued creative ways for the public broadcasting service to deliver high quality arts programming throughout the state. Lillian Press was the founding director of the Kentucky Governor's Scholars Program and has held high-level posts with the Kentucky Department of Mental Health and the Bureau for Health Services.
Centre President John Roush commented on the announcement: "Lucille Little continues to be a model of generosity for our region, and her gift to Centre honors two especially deserving people. Len's pioneering work with KET is unparalleled, and Lil's leadership with the Governor's Scholars Program has been extraordinary."
Leonard Press is a graduate of Boston University and taught broadcasting at the University of Kentucky before his 1963 appointment to KET. He was honored as 1992 Outstanding Public Television Manager of the Year, and he is a member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame. Lillian Press also graduated from Boston University and began the Kentucky Governor's Scholars Program in 1983.
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