Beldens give UA $2 million to support student scholarships, faculty, athletics

by Talk Business & Politics staff ( 365 views 

University of Arkansas alumni Ted and Leslie Belden, from left, with Martha Sutherland and Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design Dean Peter MacKeith.

University of Arkansas alumni Ted and Leslie Belden of Fayetteville have made a $2 million planned gift to Campaign Arkansas that will endow a faculty chair in architecture, fund student scholarships and support the student-athlete development program, the UA announced on Thursday (Nov. 9).

The gift will create the Cyrus A. and Martha Sutherland Endowed Chair in Preservation Design, the Sam Smith Endowed CARE Scholarship and the Roland Sales Endowment in Student Athlete Development.

The Beldens met while in school for architecture at the UA and have pledged $1 million to fund the Sutherland chair, named for the couple’s former professor, Cy Sutherland and wife Martha, also a faculty member.

“Cy loved vernacular architecture and was one of the significant movers-and-shakers in Arkansas in historic preservation,” Leslie Belden said in a UA press release. “He taught a class in historic preservation that impacted me greatly.”

Ted and Leslie Belden both earned bachelor’s degrees in architecture from the UA, are former co-chairs of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design campaign committee and members of the Architecture Dean’s Circle.

They operate Old Buildings, a Fayetteville company that adapts and renovates existing structures or provides infill in historic settings, according to the UA.

The Beldings and Sutherlands worked together to help stop the demolition of and restore Carnall Hall, according to the UA.

The faculty chair will lead the preservation design program.

“We believe that the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design needs a graduate program emphasizing historic preservation because Arkansas needs more of its architects committed to, and knowledgeable about, protecting the culture of our state and the fabric of our older areas of towns and cities,” the Beldens said in the release.

Fay Jones School dean Peter MacKeith said in the release: “The professorship is fundamental to our advancement of preservation design as a school priority, and just as fundamental thereby to our commitment to the cultural heritage of the state and region.”

The Sam Smith Endowed CARE Scholarship will be established with $500,000 and will provide financial assistance to prospective incoming first-generation freshmen who are admitted to the university, with first consideration to students from Leslie Belden’s former home in eastern Arkansas, St. Francis County, according to the UA. It is named after both Leslie Belden’s father and grandfather, Milton Samuel Smith II and Milton Samuel Smith III.

“The economy of St. Francis County, like much of the Delta, is debilitating and financial resources supporting education are less and less every year,” Belden said in the release. “I am not there to be a part of the solution, but I hope this scholarship can offer hope to the students who remain there, as well as the teachers and faculty in their education system.”

Belden’s grandfather was superintendent of schools in St. Francis County, her grandmother was an elementary school principal, her mother and maternal grandmother were teachers and her aunt was a school librarian, according to the UA.

Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz said in the press release, “Advancing student success is a critical priority for the university, and we greatly appreciate Ted and Leslie’s commitment to making that happen. We need more scholarships like this so we can continue to make the University of Arkansas accessible and affordable for Arkansans.”

The Roland Sales Endowment in Student-Athlete Development and endowment of the position of director of student-athlete development will be funded with another $500,000.

The money will go to further the mission of the student-athlete development program, “which prepares student-athletes for peak performance in life by equipping them with tangible skills and critical information that prepares them for college experiences and life after college athletics,” according to the UA.

“Ted and I are strong supporters of athletics, but we realize the enjoyment we get from athletic events comes at the cost of time commitment and exertion on the bodies of talented athletes,” Leslie Belden said in the release. “We hope this endowment will provide critical life skills and encourage character development, because both are essential to succeed in life.”

The endowment is named after Roland Sales, a classmate of Belden and former running back for the Razorbacks who, as a student, set a record for the most rushing yards at the Orange Bowl in 1978.

“Ted and Leslie understand the critical importance of preparing our more than 460 student-athletes for success in their lives beyond this campus and their athletics careers,” Jeff Long, vice chancellor and director of athletics, said in the release.

Leslie Belden also holds a master’s degree in divinity and a doctorate in ministry from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and she holds a doctorate in public policy from the UA and is a member of the Women’s Giving Circle.

The Beldens also are members of the Campaign Arkansas Steering Committee and members of the Arkansas Alumni Association.

“Ted and I met on a School of Architecture trip to Italy, so without the UA we wouldn’t be together or have our wonderful daughters and grandchildren,” Leslie Belden said in the release. “I am a lifelong Arkansan and, for me, loving and supporting my state and its flagship university are ingrained into my character. Supporting the University of Arkansas is like going to church, celebrating holidays with my family and breathing.”

Campaign Arkansas is the ongoing capital campaign for the UA to raise $1 billion in private gift support.