Stanley and Karen Pigman understand the power of an opportunity.
Together, they have been providing opportunities and opening doors for engineering students at the University of Kentucky for more than two decades.
On Sept. 8, a dedication ceremony was held to celebrate the renaming of the College of Engineering in their honor and to recognize their indelible impact.
“To see Stanley and Karen’s names precede the college feels quite natural. Over the last two decades, the Pigmans have become synonymous with engineering on this campus,” Rudy Buchheit, Rebecca Burchett Liebert Dean of UK Engineering, said in a speech. “The impact of the Pigman’s generosity is vast and varied. In each philanthropic venture, the Pigmans have worked to, above all else, provide opportunity. Opportunity for education, for research, for connection, for mentorship, for leadership, for giving back. And today is our opportunity to celebrate that.”
Born and raised in Eastern Kentucky, Stanley is also passionate about engineering being an accessible career path for students from the region. At 17, he received a scholarship to study mining engineering at UK.
Upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1981, Stanley made a commitment to transform the lives of students for generations to come and to improve Kentucky industries and the lives of the citizens they serve. Today, he, and his wife Karen, continue to live up to that mission.
For their long-standing support, UK President Eli Capilouto recommended the college be named the Stanley and Karen Pigman College of Engineering. It is among five named colleges at the university — in addition to the Gatton College of Business and Economics, the Lewis Honors College, the J. David Rosenberg College of Law and the Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. The college is also the first at UK to be named in honor of a woman.
“As Kentucky’s university, we have a profound responsibility to advance our state; Stan and Karen Pigman are helping us fulfill our promise. This gift is a continuation of their decades-long generosity that has made education more accessible to students, especially first-generation students, and those from Appalachia,” Capilouto said. “Because of the Pigmans, more Kentucky students — and Kentucky families — will discover what is wildly possible at UK. To memorialize their legacy and express our enduring gratitude, we are proud to name this college in their honor.”
The Pigman's generosity continues to strengthen the academic excellence of UK Engineering by supporting renovation, expansion and need-based scholarships.
For more than 20 years, the Pigmans have financially supported and mentored more than 200 engineering and computer science students through the L. Stanley Pigman Scholarship Program. Today, more than 120 undergraduate engineering students are supported on Pigman scholarships.
The Pigman's 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.
In addition to President Capilouto and Dean Buchheit, special guests who spoke at the ceremony included mechanical engineering student and Pigman Scholar from Knott County, Brysen Honeycutt.
He emphasized the investment the Pigmans have made in his academic and personal growth throughout his time at UK.
“Stan and Karen personally invest their time to make a connection with all their students. Over the past three years, they have made many trips to check on me and their cohort of students and frequently call to see how classes are going. Not only do they help me improve, but they believe in my ability to grow,” Honeycutt said. “The Pigman’s impact on this college goes far beyond its name — as they have personally touched the lives of many, including myself, and I’m so grateful for the support they have given me, not only financially, but in backing me in every endeavor and assisting me every step of the way.”
At the conclusion of the event, Mayor Linda Gorton’s office presented a proclamation declaring Sept. 8, 2023 as “Stanley and Karen Pigman Day” in Lexington.
“Stanley and Karen Pigman have devoted their lives to giving back to the University of Kentucky through contributions to engineering education in Lexington and across the state,” Mayor Linda Gorton said. “Declaring Sept. 8, 2023 ‘Stanley and Karen Pigman Day’ in Lexington is our way of honoring their legacy and influence on the university and our Commonwealth.”
In addition to their scholarship funds, the Pigmans established two endowed faculty positions in power engineering — the L. Stanley Pigman Chair in Power and the L. Stanley Pigman Faculty Fellowship in Power.
They have also been strong supporters of the UK Solar Car and Formula One Team, SPARK electrical engineering laboratory and PEIK (Power and Energy Institute of Kentucky), among other numerous activities and projects within the college.
The Pigmans have five children, 13 grandchildren and currently reside in Wilmington, North Carolina.