PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — The University of West Florida announced a $250,000 gift from Rhonda and Jerry Maygarden to the Maygarden Family Scholarship Endowment at the UWF Foundation and to name the Jerry Louis Maygarden Undergraduate Communication Program.

The UWF Board of Trustees approved naming the undergraduate program during its December 2022 meeting.

“The Maygardens are longtime supporters of UWF, and this gift is a wonderful example of their continued commitment to the University,” UWF President Martha D. Saunders said. “We look forward to the impact this gift will make on the next generation of communication professionals.”

Jerry Maygarden is a retired healthcare and business leader with a long career in public service including having served as a Majority Leader of the Florida House of Representatives and locally as mayor of Pensacola. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in communication arts from UWF and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by UWF in 2013. 

“We are grateful for the generosity of the Maygarden family and the impact they continue to make in the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities,” Dr. Amy Mitchell-Cook, interim dean of the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, said. “While the Department of Communication currently names several Maygarden Scholars each year, this generous gift will provide additional scholarships and assist even more students on their path to success.”

The university said the gift will expand the funding available through the existing Maygarden Family Scholarship Endowment, which was established in 2019 to support undergraduate students majoring in communication. Students who graduate and decide to pursue a master’s degree in strategic communication and leadership at UWF are also eligible for additional support for their first year in the graduate program.

“The faculty in the Department of Communication made a huge contribution to my career and we are excited about helping them to do the same for another generation of servant leaders,” Maygarden said. 

The university said Maygarden has been an ardent supporter of UWF.

“He worked to secure funding for the UWF Aquatics Center and essential road construction,” The university said in a release. “He lobbied for the creation of the Health, Leisure and Sports Facility and had a hand in purchasing 600 acres that expanded the campus by 60 percent. As a student he served as President of both the Student Government Association at UWF and led the Florida Student Association. He is a UWF Foundation Fellow and serves on UWF’s Business Enterprise, Inc. Board of Directors.”