EMORY, Va. (WJHL) — A multi-million dollar gift from The Bill Gatton Foundation will name the new Equine Center at Emory & Henry College.

The lead gift for the project is in memory of Mr. C.M. “Bill” Gatton, according to Emory & Henry. The Equestrian program at the College has reportedly grown since the transition from Virginia Intermont to Emory & Henry Equestrian, earning additional national championships, raising the total to 22.

“This is the largest gift received to date toward the Collective Connections Campaign securing funds for Emory & Henry student success,” stated a release from the College.

Gatton’s legacy of generosity continues through the foundation, including extending support for higher education in the surrounding area.

“It is a blessing to be able to come on board to the Bill Gaton Foundation and to continue his work, I am thrilled to be a part of it,” said Rob Peel, a Bill Gatton Foundation trustee.

The new facility, located off I-81 at Exit 26, will offer more students the opportunity to come to E&H to ride, compete and study, the college said. The $2 million gift is to benefit students’ educational pursuits for their future professional life.

“It made a lot of sense for us at the foundation to support this program, so we are announcing a $2 million gift to Emory & Henry to help build the equestrian complex, and one of the main features will be a Bill Gatton grand arena,” Peel said.

The new facility will allow more students to come to Emory & Henry to ride, compete and study their future professions. The program has grown significantly since the transition, attracting talent and raising the total number of national championships to 22.

“We have a national championship equestrian team, we want to make certain that the facilities we have for that team match their high level of excellence,” said Emory & Henry President John W. Wells.

The equestrian center will sit on 63 acres.

The plan is to break ground in 2024. Construction is estimated to take two to three years.