UAFS Foundation raises more than $56 million

by The City Wire staff ( 22 views 

Supporters and officials of the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith pushed beyond a capital campaign goal of $50 million by raising $56.895 million for the UAFS Foundation.

More than 200 university supporters and UAFS faculty and staff gathered Tuesday night on the campus to celebrate the completion of the fundraising effort.

“I hope you feel great about your decision to help thousands of University of Arkansas at Fort Smith students, many of whom you will never know,” Neal Pendergraft, UAFS Foundation Board member and co-chair of the Giving Opportunity campaign, told the crowd gathered in an air-conditioned tent next to the campus bell tower.

Pendergraft said in an interview that he was not surprised the $50 million goal was surpassed, but was pleasantly surprised that almost $7 million beyond the goal was raised.

“And that was during some tough economic times,” Pendergraft added.

He also said the campaign was more than just raising money.

“We set out to make friends as well as money,” he said, adding that some of the new friends may not have been able to give to this campaign, but may be able to support future efforts.

Following is the complete press release from UAFS about the event and the capital campaign.

The total came to $56,895,040, but the real message isn’t about dollars. The real message is one of impact.

That’s what donors and members of the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith campus community heard this week when the UAFS Foundation celebrated the end of the Giving Opportunity campaign, one in which the original goal was surpassed by almost $7 million.

UAFS chancellor Paul B. Beran coined a slogan early in the campaign process which said, “In everything we do, UAFS is committed to giving opportunity.”

Beran said the impact of the campaign is reflected in where the dollars raised will be used. A total of $27 million will go to new endowed scholarship funds, $5.3 million to new endowed chairs and professorships, $1.5 million for equipment and technology, $6.8 million for annual and ongoing support, $1.4 million toward the Learning and Research Center at Boreham Library and $14.9 million in donor-designated gifts outside of the scope of campaign priorities.

Those attending a celebration event for donors on Sept. 10 were provided a list of examples of the impact of the campaign, examples which went from one end of the campus to the other, from radiography lab software to instruments for the chemistry lab, from pianos to emergency funds for students, from tutoring services for students with learning disabilities to funds to support international accreditation for the College of Business.

Beran said the impact of the campaign spans across the disciplines and beyond scholarships.

“There is absolutely no question that our students need financial aid,” he said. “Most of them work at least part time and many, if not most, are paying their own way. Our Foundation and our University provide generous scholarship support for students.

“But, it is also important to note that when students come to college, they need current technology, a functional and well-appointed library and talented faculty from diverse set of backgrounds who can challenge students to ask new questions about how they view the world.”

Beran said it was easy for people to quote him saying, “In everything we do, UAFS is committed to giving opportunity.”

“But, simply stated, there would be a lot less opportunity at UAFS if it were not for you.”

Festivities at the celebration started in Boreham Library where five groups of UAFS students gave simultaneous performances as guests mingled.  Following was a presentation by Dr. Balbir B. Bhasin, the Ross Pendergraft Professor of International Business, who spoke on “Educating for the Future: Competing in a New World.” Joining Dr. Bhasin was student Alex Gravelle of Rogers, recipient of the First Bank Corp. Scholarship of Distinction. Gravelle will graduate in December.

In addition to Beran’s remarks at the celebration banquet on the Campus Green, Dr. Marta M. Loyd, vice chancellor for university advancement and executive director of the UAFS Foundation, told attendees, “This campaign was a success for only one reason — that is the people who made it happen. On behalf of all of us at UAFS, thank you. We pledge to take care of your investment in our university and to use it to help our students become self-sufficient, contributing members of society who understand the value of civic engagement and leadership.”

Loyd added, “This University is forever changed because of this campaign.”

Neal R. Pendergraft, UAFS Foundation Board member and co-chair of the Giving Opportunity campaign, emceed the event and thanked those attending for having a key role in achieving the original $50 million goal and surpassing it.

“Cumulatively, you gave $56,895,040,” said Pendergraft. “As you can see in your program, this grand total was a result of 12,240 gifts from 2,889 individuals or businesses.”

Pendergraft praised Beran, who is now in his eighth year as chancellor, for his leadership.

“Dr. Beran has served as a transformational leader to guide the administration, faculty and staff in building a first-class university that, while excellent as a community college, was really just in its infancy as a university when he arrived.”

Pendergraft also focused on the true recipients of the campaign — the students — and how the campaign benefits them.

“Most of you think about your giving a little like I think about mine,” he said. “It’s not about me, but about those who might benefit from what I can do. I care a lot less about recognition than I do about hearing from a grateful student, learning about how the students benefited from a new lab, a piece of equipment, an excellent teacher or the nice new library.”

He went on to say there would be more to accomplish in the future.

“We all know the greatest thing going in this community is our University, and it’s about to get better,” he said. “…We need to do all we can to keep UAFS moving in the right direction.”

Those attending the banquet also heard from Bradley Andrews of Roland, a student who is an “opportunity” recipient.

Andrews spoke of growing up and working in the family’s lawn care businesses, adding that his father told him — over and over — that he needed to go to college and that one day he would understand. Then, his father made the first move, going to college himself as an example for his children.

“It took a lot out of my dad,” Andrews said, “but I was there the whole time, watching.”

Andrews is now a senior and will graduate from UAFS with a marketing degree.

“It’s not all the great things I’ve done and the great people I’ve met,” he said, “but how I really got here is this through an opportunity that was given to me — a poor ambitious, young boy from Roland, Oklahoma. You gave me a chance to reach my dreams and become what I can be.”

He said the “gracious gift” has brought him to where he is today.

Andrews, a member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Council, was the recipient of the Randy Wewers CLC Scholarship. He has plans to continue his education.

“The world is now mine to navigate,” Andrews said. “I look forward to graduate school and a great career and one day giving back just like all of you have done. … I want  to open the doors of opportunity to young, ambitious individuals.”

Andrews was given a standing ovation at the end of his moving speech.

Other program participants included John R. Taylor, vice chair of the UAFS Foundation Board and volunteer in the Giving Opportunity campaign, who provided the invocation, and Robert E. Miller, chair of the UAFS Foundation Board and campaign co-chair, who introduced the student speaker. The UAFS Chorale, directed by Dr. Rager H. Moore II, director of choral activities, and accompanied by Terri Bailey, provided special music for the event.

In addition to Pendergraft and Miller, campaign leadership included Sam M. Sicard, Bill Hanna and Robert Young, co-chairs. Co-captains were Doug Babb, Jimmy Bell, Gina Clark, Lawson Hembree, Bill Hanna and Chris Whitt. In addition to Taylor, campaign volunteers were David Cravens, Kent Blochberger, Roger Meek, Judy McReynolds, Jim Walcott, JoAnn Gedosh, Rusty Myers, Bob Cohen, Brian Schneider, Susan Grobmyer, Mark Moll, Tim Shields, Allyn Donaubauer, Stacey Jones, Stanhope Wilkinson, Doug Smith, Carolyn Moore, Keith Hefner, Walton Maurras, Cliff Beckham, Marianne Lane-Thompson, Jim Williamson and Bennie Westphal.