Fryar foundation gives $10 million to University of Arkansas System

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 1,916 views 

The University of Arkansas System announced Thursday (June 25) a $10 million gift from the Fryar Family Charitable Foundation. The money will be used to create and support a center that will provide analysis and education on issues of price risk management in agriculture, finance and energy.

Risk management is the science of anticipating and analyzing the potential for adverse financial events and minimizing the impacts of the events. This is important for markets that have great price risks, such as agricultural commodities, according to a news release.

The gift comes from a foundation established by Ed and Michelle Fryar of Rogers, both alumni of the University of Arkansas. Ed Fryar was appointed in March 2019 to the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas and served for 13 years as a UA faculty member in agricultural economics and agribusiness. He founded Ozark Mountain Poultry Inc. of Rogers, and it was purchased in 2018 by Springdale-based poultry producer George’s Inc.

“Our family roots run deep in Arkansas and the University of Arkansas,” Ed Fryar said. “This endowment is an opportunity to repay the university for all that it has given us. Price risk management plays an important role in the success or failure of many farms and companies. We hope that our support of research, teaching and extension programs in this area will have a national impact on academia, industry, farming and the career paths of students for many years.”

Ed Fryar received a bachelor’s degree in economics and a Master of Science in agricultural economics, while Michelle Fryar earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master of Science in rural sociology, all from the UA.

“We are honored to contribute to Campaign Arkansas and to the department where Ed and I were graduate students,” Michelle Fryar said. “The University of Arkansas has been a central part of our family from the beginning, and we feel it is important to support the university and the state of Arkansas.”

The money will be used to establish the Fryar Family Charitable Foundation Endowment in Price Risk Management. The endowment will create and support the Fryar Price Risk Management Center of Excellence, establish the Fryar Endowed Professorship in Applied Price Risk Management and support research, teaching and extension outreach.

“The uncertainties we face every day make this project so timely,” said Donald Bobbitt, president of the University of Arkansas System. “This gift lays the groundwork for the University of Arkansas System to become a global leader for risk management research, education and outreach. We envision building this center on our already successful model that draws on industry expertise to inspire teaching and research on timely applied risk management topics.”

The center’s research will focus on behavioral and traditional economic theories in commodity risk management. The center also will look to improve risk management theory in agriculture, finance and energy and develop best practices for formal education degree programs and outreach to risk management professionals, producers, government officials and policymakers, the news release shows.

“The generosity of Ed, Michelle and the Fryar family will transform the capacity of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness into national leadership in the scholarship of price risk management in the areas of research, teaching and extension,” said Mark Cochran, vice president of agriculture for the UA System. “In the research area, this gift will enable both the application and expansion of behavioral and traditional rational expectations theories to the field of price risk management. The teaching component will prepare the next generation of managers and analysts for productive careers in agriculture and other industries. The extension emphasis will facilitate the delivery and education of this research-based information and decision tools to the practitioners in the field.”

The money will be co-managed by the Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

“We are glad and grateful to the Fryars for giving back to their alma mater on top of the contributions they’ve already made,” said Deacue Fields, dean of the Bumpers College. “This center will be a game-changer for Bumpers College and for agriculture nationally. We see the center’s primary teaching focus will be to develop and offer a comprehensive program that educates students and industry about price risk management strategies in grain, financial, energy and livestock markets; areas that underpin our economy as a whole.”