Campus News

Gatton College holds naming ceremony for John Maze Stewart Department of Finance and Quantitative Methods

Gatton College of Business and Economics held a naming ceremony for the Department of Finance and Quantitative Methods on April 21, featuring John Stewart, Scot Duncan, Provost Robert S. DiPaola and Dean Simon Sheather. Photo by Shaun Ring.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 24, 2023) — The University of Kentucky Gatton College of Business and Economics held a naming ceremony for the John Maze Stewart Department of Finance and Quantitative Methods last week to recognize the generous donation of $10 million from John Stewart, founding partner of MiddleGround Capital. The transformative gift will expand opportunities for Gatton College of Business and Economics students. 

“As a resident of Central Kentucky for nearly 40 years, I’m humbled by the opportunity that MiddleGround has provided for me to support the region with world-class jobs in private equity,” Stewart said. “I’m also pleased to make this donation to the university on behalf of myself and my four children — to ultimately provide funding for programs and scholarships.” 

“At the University of Kentucky, we strive to put students first in everything that we do. With this generous gift, John Maze Stewart enables us to provide even more opportunities for our students, and take the department to the next level,” Provost Robert S. DiPaola said. “Because of John’s gift, even more students will learn valuable employability and personal development skills. This type of learning is vital to bolstering Kentucky’s workforce — helping us in our mission of advancing Kentucky.” 

The university expressed its gratitude to John Stewart by celebrating and revealing the departmental signage on the third floor of the Gatton College of Business and Economics. The naming ceremony was officiated by Provost DiPaola, Gatton College Dean Simon Sheather, together with John Stewart, founding partner of MiddleGround Capital, and Scot Duncan, founding partner of MiddleGround Capital. 

“It is thanks to the generosity of John Stewart that the Department of Finance and Quantitative Methods will be able to enhance the experience for finance majors here at the Gatton College of Business and Economics. We are extremely grateful this gift will serve as an excellent resource for scholarship opportunities for generations of students,” Dean Sheather said. “In addition, this will provide faculty support and allow us to continue indefinitely our Wall Street Scholars program for Kentucky students to gain experience in investment banking and private equity.” 

MiddleGround, a private equity firm headquartered in Lexington, invests in B2B companies in the industrial and specialty distribution sectors in the lower middle market in North America and Europe. Stewart started his career as an hourly line worker at Toyota Motor Corporation and held numerous management positions over an 18-year career. He made the move to private equity in 2007. Over the next 10 years, Stewart was progressively promoted throughout his prior organization and became a partner in 2016 before founding MiddleGround Capital. Throughout his career, he has worked on numerous transactions and served on the board of directors for more than 25 businesses across middle market and Fortune 100 companies. 

Today, MiddleGround has offices in Lexington, New York and Amsterdam. They manage $4.5 billion worth of assets with 15 portfolio companies and 156 facilities on six of the world’s seven continents.  

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.