Business innovator and investor W. Bruce Lunsford has made the largest gift to Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law in its 129-year history, to expand the college’s law and technology program he helped launch nearly a decade ago, when the digital economy was still in early development.

Mr. Lunsford, who graduated from Chase in 1974 and went on to create leading healthcare companies, real estate development firms and a Hollywood production company, is donating $3 million to the law school to broaden the impact of the W. Bruce Lunsford Academy for Law, Business + Technology. The Academy was created in 2013 with a $1 million gift and has grown in impact ever since. In total, Mr. Lunsford has donated more than $4 million to education programs at Chase.

“My initial vision was to provide expanded opportunities for stellar students to better prepare them to thrive in the evolving world of technology and business practices,” Mr. Lunsford said. “Under the outstanding leadership of Dean Judith Daar and the team at Chase, I have been extremely pleased with the successful outcomes that the students have achieved, and I look forward to the continuing evolution of the academy in the years ahead.” 

The W. Bruce Lunsford Academy for Law, Business + Technology at Chase College of Law is an honors program that attracts top-tier students and provides them with hands-on and conceptual training in applications of law, business and technology that are increasingly inter-related in a digital economy.

The $3 million gift will most immediately allow the Academy, among other initiatives, to increase Lunsford Fellowships for students working in the technology sector, broaden their entrepreneurial opportunities and expand geographically the networking and placement opportunities for students and graduates.

 “The Lunsford Academy provides our students with unique and innovative instruction and experiential opportunities that prepare them for exciting career paths,” Dean Daar, Ambassador Patricia L. Herbold Dean of Chase, said. “Mr. Lunsford’s vision, generosity and friendship have helped us build a top-notch, state-of-the-art program of legal education that prepares tomorrow’s lawyers to tackle the complexities of an ever-changing societal landscape. We are exceedingly grateful to our inspirational alumnus whose lifetime engagement with Chase will transform the law school and the lives of our students for many years to come.”      

Mr. Lunsford’s gift resonates throughout NKU.

“Mr. Lunsford’s generosity continues to be transformative and inspirational for Chase and NKU, and we are grateful for his continued support,” NKU President Ashish Vaidya said. “This gift will allow the Lunsford Academy to continue to be a program of distinction that will prepare law students to be successful community stewards in the fields of law, business and technology.” 

The W. Bruce Lunsford Academy for Law, Business + Technology has established Chase as a leader among law schools in digital and entrepreneurial education and programming, and in the national law-and-technology community of law firms and businesses. The Academy also partners with Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati enterprises to enable them to utilize the expertise of its Lunsford Scholars in internships and job placements.

Mr. Lunsford is chairman and chief executive officer of Lunsford Capital LLC, a private investment company headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, chairman of Arcadia Communities LLC, a Louisville-based real estate development company for senior living communities, and a member of the board of directors of Vita-Stat LLC, a Louisville-based health care device and software company.

He began his career after graduation from Chase as a lawyer in the Cincinnati firm of Keating, Muething & Klekamp, and later served as Kentucky Secretary of Commerce, involved in creation of a Delta Air Lines passenger hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and a UPS cargo hub at Louisville International Airport.

He is the founder, former chairman and chief executive of Ventas Inc., a New York Stock Exchange-listed healthcare real estate investment company; founder, former chairman, president and chief executive of Vencor Inc., a Fortune 500 healthcare company now known as Kindred Healthcare; former chairman and interim chief executive of Valor Healthcare Inc., a developer and operator of outpatient clinics for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs; founder of Atria Communities Inc., an assisted living company now owned by global investment firm Lazard; and a co-founder of Hart-Lunsford Pictures, a feature-film production company that has screened movies at the prestigious Sundance, Tribeca and Toronto film festivals.

Mr. Lunsford, who grew up on a farm in Northern Kentucky and now owns and breeds thoroughbreds, is a member of the board of directors of the Breeders’ Cup Limited and a former board member of Churchill Downs. His thoroughbred stable has included Vision and Verse, who finished second in both the 1999 Belmont Stakes and the Travers Stakes, and First Samurai, considered to be a contender for the 2006 Triple Crown, prior to a starting gate injury. Among his current thoroughbreds is Art Collector, a homebred 4-year-old who finished sixth in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

For Lunsford Scholars at Chase, the gift from Mr. Lunsford ensures that opportunities continue to unfold for them, in school and in practice. “I have no doubt that the Lunsford Academy emphasis on preparing lawyers to practice in the modern business world will help me stand out after graduation,” said Tai Edwards, a second-year Chase student and Lunsford Scholar. “In terms of the present moment, I benefit greatly from interacting with and being challenged by some of the best and brightest at Chase. There is a great sense of community in the Academy, where we’re all competing with each other but not strictly against each other. Everyone wants to see their fellow Lunsford members reach their highest potential.”