$1 Million donation from Warren Buffett creates scholarship fund

Monica Kast

Dependents of Fruit of the Loom employees will be able to apply for new scholarships for the fall 2017 semester after a $1 million donation was made to WKU, according to Fruit of the Loom.

Warren Buffett is the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Fruit of the Loom’s parent company. After Rick Medlin, CEO of Fruit of the Loom, died last year, Buffett donated $1 million to WKU to be used for scholarships, according to Fruit of the Loom.

“We are so grateful for Mr. Buffett’s generosity in honoring Rick [Medlin] and his passion for education,” Melissa Burgess Taylor, Fruit of the Loom CEO, said in a press release. “The scholarship will have a lasting impact on employees and their families for years to come.”

Donald Smith, president of the College Heights Foundation, said the $1 million donation will distribute approximately $100,000 per year over a 10 year period. Smith said that will create “approximately 10 full scholarships each year for a 10 year period.”

Smith said that the scholarships will cover the full amount of tuition, not including room and board.

“We don’t really know what the applicant pool will look like in the coming year, but I would anticipate that we might have 50 to 100 applicants in any given year, and then they’ll be selected by the university scholarship committee,” Smith said.

Students eligible for the scholarship can apply through TOPDollar. According to a press release from Fruit of the Loom, “recipients may reapply each year if a GPA of 3.0 or higher is maintained.” Students will be able to apply these scholarships to the fall 2017 semester.

Smith said the scholarship fund will be open to dependents of any U.S. Fruit of the Loom employee, not just employees working at Fruit of the Loom in Bowling Green. He also said that it could be used for any full-time student, through “traditional enrollment, or on-demand, online enrollment.”

“We felt like it was a win-win for everybody involved,” Smith said. “It helps Fruit of the Loom employees create retention efforts and provide scholarship opportunities for their students, and it allows us to attract and retain those students as well.”

Smith said donations to scholarship funds are becoming increasingly important at universities.

“Scholarship support is extremely critical to the institution right now, to allow us to attract and retain the best and brightest students, not just in Bowling Green, but across the Commonwealth, across the nation, and the globe,” Smith said. “Any gift that goes into scholarships is allowing us do that.”

Smith said although Medlin graduated from Clemson University, education remained important to him throughout his life. Through his connection to Bowling Green and Fruit of the Loom, the donation was given to WKU. Smith said donations like these help make college education more accessible.

“These contributions from generous donors like Mr. Buffett allow the dream of an education to be possible for deserving students,” Smith said.

Reporter Monica Kast can be reached at (270) 745-0655 or [email protected].

*Correction: A previous version of this story noted in the headline that the $1 million donation was from Fruit of Loom. The $1 million donation is from Warren Buffett. The Herald regrets the error.