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Eastern Kentucky University announced it received its single largest gift in the school’s history today, more than $2.5 million left by Karen Ann Hawkins, who passed away last November. 

The University honored Hawkins and her bequest with a memorial celebration in her hometown of Lawrenceburg on July 12. President Dr. David McFaddin and many of Eastern’s leaders met with Hawkins’ friends and family to celebrate her life and her legacy at EKU. 

“Eastern Kentucky University has an enduring legacy of impact on this state and its people. Karen Ann Hawkins and her incredible gift are proof that EKU is more than just a place where you come to get a degree. It’s a place where you can transform your life, and in her case, transform the lives of so many with her incredible gift,” McFaddin said. 

Hawkins, 75 at the time of her passing, was a 1968 graduate of Eastern Kentucky University and a 1963 graduate of Anderson County High School. She carried a quiet love for the University since her graduation, her family said. Hawkins was a retired program analyst for Medical Assistance for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. She remained in her hometown of Lawrenceburg her entire life. 

“Discovering that we were going to receive this gift was quite a shock because we were unaware of her estate plans. Obviously, she loved her alma mater and its mission of educating students in this region,” said Betina Gardner, vice president for development and alumni engagement. “We are overwhelmed with gratitude for this gift, and it will go directly toward giving more Kentucky students opportunities to learn, grow and serve their communities.” 

Hawkins was a member of the  Lawrenceburg First Baptist Church, a member and past president of the Beta Sigma Phi international sorority, and served on the Lawrenceburg/Anderson County Zoning Commission for eight years. She enjoyed traveling, reading, and making crewel embroidery. 

“This gift is a beautiful reminder that the Eastern Kentucky University experience is one that doesn’t end when a student graduates and leaves campus. It is an experience that lasts a lifetime, and, in Ms. Hawkins example, beyond a lifetime,” Gardner said. “Her giving spirit will make it possible for the EKU experience to continue for generations to come.”