Campus News

Karen and Stanley Pigman’s $11.25 Million Gift to UK Engineering ‘All About Students’

Photo of Stanley and Karen Pigman
The Pigmans’ gifts are crucial to ensuring engineering students acquire the skills and traits needed to solve unique challenges. Photo courtesy of UK Engineering.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 3, 2022) The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees has approved two gifts totaling $11.25 million from Karen and Stanley Pigman’s Lighthouse Beacon Foundation.

The generous funds will support renovation, expansion and need-based scholarships in the College of Engineering.

“It’s all about students. We believe in them,” Stanley Pigman said. “We hope our gifts change the lives of many, many students and help them prepare for the workforce.”

The Pigmans’ gifts are crucial to ensuring engineering students acquire the skills and traits needed to solve unique challenges and ultimately improve the lives of those in the Commonwealth and beyond.

“Stanley and Karen Pigman’s vision for the University of Kentucky and the College of Engineering is exceeded only by their genuine desire to see Kentucky students succeed,” UK President Eli Capilouto said. “They share a tremendous personal commitment to helping students realize their dreams of a college education. I deeply appreciate all that they are doing. Their actions will have an impact on the university and the Commonwealth for generations to come.”

The $10 million gift will support the renovation and expansion of the Funkhouser Building — adding 100,000 square feet of state-of-the-art teaching and research spaces to UK Engineering. The project aims to support enrollment growth, additional faculty members and research goals.

“We are building places and programs that will help meet the challenge of supplying engineering talent for a growing, technology-dependent society,” Rudy Buchheit, the Rebecca Burchett Liebert Dean of the College of Engineering, said. “We want every student with a passion for engineering. If a student brings ability, ambition and commitment, we will connect them to resources to enable them to pursue and fulfill their ambition.”

The Pigmans also gave $1.25 million to support need-based scholarships for students from Eastern Kentucky who pursue a degree in the new Department of Engineering Technology.

Stanley Pigman, a native of Eastern Kentucky, is passionate about engineering being an accessible career industry for students from the region. “There are entire high schools in Eastern Kentucky who do not have physics or calculus,” he explained. “We believe there are more students in Appalachia who could be pursuing engineering if they were given the educational resources.”

The Department of Engineering Technology, launched in July 2021, offers two four-year undergraduate degrees in lean systems engineering technology and computer engineering technology. Graduates of the programs will be equipped with the practical skills necessary for thriving in advanced technological industries.

Stanley Pigman understands the immense impact of financial support. He received a scholarship to study mining engineering at UK when he was 17. “That scholarship changed my life,” he said. “I would not have had the success I’ve had if that scholarship had not been available. That is why I am passionate about helping young people in difficult financial straits make their dream of going to college a reality.”

The Pigmans are some of the UK College of Engineering’s most significant philanthropic supporters. They provide ample funds through their scholarship program, which began in 1999. They helped create the L. Stanley Pigman Chair in Power, currently held by Professor Dan M. Ionel. The Pigmans have also been strong supporters of the UK Solar Car Team, as well as numerous initiatives and projects within the college. 

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.