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VU announces historic faculty endowment gift from Ro and Shorty Whittington

Photo of Ro and Charles Whittington

April 03, 2024

VINCENNES, Ind. - Ro and Charles "Shorty" Whittington of Columbus, Indiana, have announced a first-of-its-kind and groundbreaking gift to Vincennes University. The landmark gift will create a faculty endowment fund made possible by the tremendous generosity of the couple.

The Whittington Endowed Faculty Fund represents VU’s first-ever faculty fund endowment, marking a significant milestone in its commitment to academic excellence and advancement. Their $750,000.00 gift will bolster faculty support and foster agricultural innovation.

"My wife and I have a real desire to build up kids to get them where they need to be," Shorty Whittington said. "Our objective is to invest in Vincennes University faculty and help them make things better."

Ro and Shorty Whittington are long-time philanthropists and have supported 4-H youth through scholarships for several decades. Their recent gift continues their legacy of giving.

Shorty Whittington said, "We want to make things available for young people to help them grow and help get them jump-started. I farmed for a long time, and if you plant a seed and you take care of that seed it grows."

The transformative gift from the Whittingtons’ Landmark Farm Foundation, Inc. represents one of the largest individual donor gifts in recent years, underscoring the profound impact of philanthropy on VU's continued success and growth.

VU Provost Dr. Laura Treanor said, "This historic endowment underscores our unwavering dedication to academic excellence and innovation. Faculty are the lifeblood of what we do, working directly with our students to produce skills and experiences that lead to life-changing outcomes. I and Vincennes University are immensely grateful to Ro and Shorty Whittington for their visionary philanthropy, which will have a profound and lasting impact on our faculty, University community, and beyond."

The faculty fund will address critical challenges in talent recruitment and retention within highly competitive fields of study, particularly agriculture. With an initial focus on supporting faculty positions in the College of Technology and the College of Business and Public Service, the fund will allocate stipends to five positions, enabling VU to attract and retain top-tier talent in these crucial areas.

Ro and Shorty Whittington hope to inspire others to join them in nurturing the next generation of leaders and innovators by following them in their giving spirit. Shorty Whittington founded Grammer Industries, an Indiana-based trucking company, and was also the CEO.

Shorty Whittington said, “I have two things in my life that I go by, and the No. 1 thing is “If you give you get.”

In addition to providing immediate support for faculty positions, a significant portion of their gift will be allocated towards establishing a named endowed fund, ensuring sustained support for faculty in perpetuity.

This enduring commitment to agricultural education underscores the University's role as a leader in addressing the evolving needs of the agriculture sector.

Executive Director of VU Foundation and Senior Director of Institutional Advancement Kristi Deetz said, “We extend our deepest gratitude to Ro and Shorty Whittington for their outstanding generosity. It is an honor for VU and the Foundation to be a part of their passion and vision for making a meaningful difference in the lives of those we serve. Their commitment to youth and education is truly inspiring.”

This week marks an exciting milestone for VU as it announces the extraordinary philanthropy of Ro and Shorty Whittington, which coincides with the VU Foundation’s fourth annual Blazers Give Day. The 24-hour giving day event is on Thursday, April 4, from midnight to 11:59 p.m. (EDT). For more information about Blazers Give Day and how to get involved, please visit vinu.edu/blazersgive.

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