John Stewart Provides $10 Million Gift to the University of Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business and Economics – MiddleGround Capital
April 27, 2023

John Stewart Provides $10 Million Gift to the University of Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business and Economics

MiddleGround Capital, an operationally focused private equity firm that makes control investments in North American middle market B2B industrial and specialty distribution companies, today announced that its Founder and Managing Partner, John Stewart, has gifted $10 million to the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky.

The gift will be used, in part, to endow the MiddleGround Scholarship, which will be awarded annually to a minority finance undergraduate or graduate student. Additionally, $3 million will go toward endowing the student scholarships in the Wall Street Scholars program, whose mission is to assist students beginning their careers in fields including investment banking, asset management, private wealth management, consulting, and corporate finance.

“I am humbled by the ability to support the faculty and students at the University of Kentucky with this gift, which will foster an enhanced experience and scholarship opportunities for high-achieving students at the Gatton College of Business and Economics,” said Mr. Stewart. “Throughout my life, I have always maintained a quest for knowledge and continual education. I am a firm believer that a college education is still very relevant and necessary for most young people prior to entering the workforce. Throughout my career, I have learned that success is not an individual accomplishment, it is a community event. By recruiting, hiring, and developing the smartest and most capable people, regardless of racial, gender, or any other social bias and then providing them with the best work environment, rewarding assignments, opportunities for professional development and the opportunity to earn a fair wage for their efforts, I have been able to build a highly effective and diverse firm headquartered right here in Lexington, Kentucky. Diversity enables MiddleGround to make the best decisions for our investors. Of the many students graduating from universities with finance degrees, most are white males. I recognize the importance of making change happen with real tangible actions by individuals. I am proud to make this donation to demonstrate my commitment to making real change in our industry. We can’t wait for the governments of the world to solve the world’s problems. It is the responsibility of individuals to make the world a better place. I hope that my efforts inspire others to do the same.”

The University of Kentucky’s Board also approved naming Gatton College’s finance department the “John Maze Stewart Department of Finance and Quantitative Methods” in Mr. Stewart’s honor, and held a naming ceremony to celebrate his contributions by revealing the departmental signage on the third floor of the Gatton College of Business and Economics. The ceremony was officiated by Provost DiPaola, Gatton College Dean Simon Sheather, together with John Stewart, founding partner of MiddleGround Capital, and Scot Duncan, founding partner of MiddleGround Capital.

“We were thrilled to hold such a great event in celebration of John Stewart’s contributions to the university that will help us to enhance the experience for finance majors, ensuring they have access to excellent resources for scholarship opportunities,” said Simon J. Sheather, dean of the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky. “This generous donation will also provide our faculty with more support as we continue to expand our program to provide students with unparalleled investment banking and private equity experience.”

About MiddleGround Capital
MiddleGround Capital is a private equity firm based in Lexington, KY with over $3.3 billion of Assets Under Management. MiddleGround makes control equity investments in middle market B2B industrial and specialty distribution businesses. MiddleGround works with its portfolio companies to create value through a hands-on operational approach and partners with its management teams to support long-term growth strategies. For more information, please visit:

About The University of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for” three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes’ list of “America’s Best Employers.” UK ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. Patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky. For more information visit us online at

About Gatton College of Business and Economics
The Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky is an AACSB
accredited school offering undergraduate, masters and Ph.D. degrees in the business
disciplines for Kentuckians and beyond. For more information visit us online at