Bill Hough speaks during dedication of Hough Hall
Bill Hough addresses the crowd during the Hough Hall dedication ceremony.

Warrington College of Business mourns the loss of alumnus and supporter William “Bill” Hough

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – It is with deep sadness that the University of Florida Warrington College of Business shares the loss of one of its alumni and strongest supporters – William “Bill” R. Hough. The namesake of the Hough Graduate School of Business and William R. Hough Master of Science in Finance program passed on April 11 at the age of 93.

“Bill Hough was a catalyst for innovation at Warrington,” said Dean John Kraft. “His long-time generosity and support gave our students the ultimate platform from which to be successful in the business world. He was a true champion for future generations of Business Gators.”

After receiving his degree as part of the University of Florida’s first Master of Business Administration class in 1948, Hough ascended to the top of the business world as founder of William R. Hough & Co., an investment bank based in St. Petersburg he guided for 38 years. The company was the No. 1 bond management enterprise in Florida, underwrote a significant portion of the state’s issues and played a major role in developing the state’s infrastructure. In 2004, the company merged with RBC Dain Rauscher Inc.

Bill and Hazel Hough

Bill and Hazel Hough in Hough Hall.

In 2001, Hough, along with his wife Hazel, made their first of many gifts to the Warrington College of Business. The couple’s $1 million contribution created the William R. Hough Master of Science in Finance, a one-year specialized master’s degree that serves as an alternative to the traditional MBA for those who have a specific interest in finance. In 2004 and 2005, the Houghs contributed an additional $1.5 million, in total, to strengthen the finance program and in response to UF President Bernie Machen’s Faculty Challenge.

Hough felt that Florida could be a finance powerhouse and recognized the unique opportunity a specialized master’s degree would provide students – an education that allows them to be successful in the industry immediately, without the time commitment of a traditional MBA.

“I believe that students with four-year degrees in business, with a major in finance, can be fully prepared for a career in investment banking or securities by obtaining the degree of Master of Science in Finance in a one-year program,” Hough said in 2005.

He said to the Tampa Bay Times in 2007, “I think we have an opportunity to grow business school graduates and keep them working right here.”

Hough’s belief about the power of a University of Florida master’s degree in finance turned out to be true.

“Bill and Hazel Hough’s gifts gave the Warrington College of Business the ability to create a very special program,” said David Brown, William R. Hough Professor of Finance. “Over 300 students have gone through the Master of Science in Finance program and obtained the skills to successfully compete for jobs in all areas of finance with students from any university in the country.”

Bill Hough smiles while looking up at the crowd during the Hough Hall dedication ceremony.

Bill Hough at the Hough Hall dedication ceremony.

In 2007, the Houghs made the then largest contribution UF had ever received of $30 million to name and build a dedicated space for graduate students. Today, the Hough Graduate School of Business in Hough Hall is home to seven specialized master’s degree programs and the UF MBA program. The features housed within the 70,000 square foot building include five state-of-the-art classrooms, career development and counseling centers, a capital markets lab with Bloomberg Terminals and flat-screen monitors and 17 student breakout rooms. The building is also eco-friendly, having received a Gold level of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Hough believed strongly in the power of education and was an advocate for the University of Florida, serving as a member of the Warrington Business Advisory Board and the UF Foundation Board.

“My business career was very successful and it was due in large part to the education I received at the University of Florida,” Hough said at the dedication of Hough Hall in 2010. “I believe one should give back particularly if one is successful. I’m very grateful to the university and would like to give back to it.”

Bill and Hazel, who passed in August 2019, believed strongly in giving back, as shown by their significant philanthropy in the St. Petersburg area. In addition to the University of Florida, the Houghs supported other educational institutions, including the Canterbury School, Eckerd College and the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, as well as the arts, including the Museum of Fine Arts, the Dalí Museum and the Palladium Theater.

Read more about Hough and his legacy in this story from the Tampa Bay Times