Directors of the Allan Hancock College Foundation voted Jan. 23 to provide $10 million in financial support for the campus' forthcoming Fine Arts Complex, bringing the project closer to full funding.

Planning for the $48 million project began in 1999 and overcame a major hurdle last year after the state approved $24 million in matching funds. Glenn Owen, treasurer and chair of the foundation's finance committee, said the college requested the foundation's assistance with financing the project, slated for completion in the next three years, from a multimillion-dollar endowment left to the college by a former instructor.

Patricia Boyd, a native Santa Maria and longtime Hancock College piano instructor, bequeathed $10 million to $12 million to the school (through the Hancock College Foundation) following her death in 2012. The gift from Boyd — officially the Patricia J. Boyd Fund — was designed to support the music and fine arts on campus and remains the largest contribution received by the foundation.

"What we would like to do, as a foundation, is utilize $10 million of [the Patricia J. Boyd Fund]," Owen said. "[It's only] a portion of the total complex cost, but it's much needed."

Owen also presented an update to the foundation's various program endowments and scholarships, including the newly created Hancock Promise endowment. Funded by a combination of annual gifts and account interest, directors voted to provide $355,000 in funding to the annual scholarships. Susan Houghton, executive director for College Advancement, said the total amount of scholarship money — roughly $550,000 — the foundation will provide is $45,000 more than what was provided last year.

Directors also voted to fully fund the Marian Hancock Scholarship at $10,000, which had not fully vested due to lower returns. Owen called the award the "premier scholarship for the school's top student" and said it necessitated financial support.

"Other scholarships were funded at a $10,000 level," he said. "This one didn't make it, but we felt it was important enough that we raise it up."

Guy Walker, foundation director and chair of the Hancock Promise committee, delivered an update on the college's new initiative, which promises to cover tuition for the district's first-year students.

"From a committee standpoint, this is a kickoff," Walker said, informing directors that roughly $3 million has been contributed to support the program. "Over the next three to five years, we're going to be running full speed."

The Hancock Promise endowment, Owen explained earlier in the meeting, will be managed through a pending agreement with the Santa Barbara Foundation, which manages $173 million in assets. Directors voted to delegate the authority to the Hancock College Foundation's finance committee, which will negotiate with the Santa Barbara Foundation regarding the details of the agreement.

"We've used the Santa Barbara Foundation as a very strong community partner for us that I think has a number of wins," Houghton said. "They have been strong supporters of the Promise and we think they'll continue to be strong supporters. We know their investment in [northern Santa Barbara] County is very important."

Mathew Burciaga covers education in Santa Maria and the surrounding area for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @math_burciaga