The Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust on Friday (Oct.12) gifted $100 million to the University of Arkansas System to continue the UA Winthrop Rockefeller Institute.
The landmark announcement was made at a mid-morning press conference at the Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean Mountain, part of the property owned by Rockefeller, the state’s 37th governor who served from 1967-1971.
After a battle with cancer, Rockefeller died in 1973 at the age of 60 and left an estate then valued at $67 million in his trust. Over the decades, the trust grew in assets and distributed more than $247 million in grants, mostly to Arkansas causes.
Friday’s announcement transfers $100 million in the trust to the UA System and further aligns the state’s largest higher education system and the Rockefeller Institute.
“Winthrop Rockefeller left his mark on Arkansas history by respecting people from different backgrounds and viewpoints and challenging us to work together to solve difficult problems,” said Dr. Marta Loyd, executive director and CEO of the Rockefeller Institute. “This historic endowment makes it possible for us to engage a wider audience with Governor Rockefeller’s legacy from the mountain where he convened groups during his day.”
“As one of the original members of the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute board of directors and having spent a large part of my career working in the UA System, I have a tremendous appreciation for the spirit, legacy and impact of Winthrop Rockefeller and the institute that bears his name,” said Dr. Donald Bobbitt, president of the UA System.
Officials said the Rockefeller Trust would begin winding down after the gift is complete as then-Gov. Rockefeller never intended it to last indefinitely. The Rockefeller Institute will only broaden its current mission of facilitating civic, cultural, research and education-oriented programs and activities, including the convening of significant conferences, representatives said.
Loyd said there will not be any major changes to the institute’s mission and scope of work, but the realignment will ensure funding “in perpetuity” through the UA System Foundation. Bobbitt said the permanence of the funding move will allow the institute to plan with more long-range ambition on complex issues that may take years to explore.
“Things will continue as they have been because things have been going very well,” Bobbitt said when asked if any changes are expected under the new arrangement.
He did say there will be a reconstituted board for the Rockefeller Institute that will expand to include members of the UA System and citizens from across the state.
“They will have responsibility for helping Marta [Loyd] and her staff come up with the right programming and, hopefully, use their contacts to establish these conversations,” Bobbitt said.