Laurie and James Bibler of Russellville have pledged $6 million to the Arkansas Tech University Foundation in the form of an estate gift.
Their commitment represents the largest personal gift pledge in the 111-year history of Arkansas Tech University.
The Biblers’ gift will be designated to two funds within the ATU Foundation – the James and Laurie Bibler Scholarship fund and the University’s Greatest Need fund.
“It gives us great pleasure to be able to offer scholarships to young adults who have a desire to further their education but do not have the means to do so,” said Laurie Bibler. “James and I realize that education is so important to young adults. If they are not given the opportunity for post-secondary study they risk being left behind. We don’t want that to happen. We want them to succeed and achieve their goals.
“We also want to encourage others to give in support of Arkansas Tech,” she said. “If we can provide a college education for even just one person and that person goes out and succeeds to their fullest, think about the impact that they will make. It is important to give back from what we have been given. We hope that others are inspired to include Arkansas Tech in their estate plans.”
James Bibler studied business administration at Arkansas Tech for two years before going to work for his father, Odus Bibler, in 1955. Odus was a farmer and the owner of a lumber business that was founded by his father, David Albert Bibler, in 1909.
After starting in that business as a lumber stacker, James rose through the ranks of the company to become president at the age of 33 in 1967.
Bibler Brothers Inc. became a division of Great Northern Nekoosa in 1973, but 13 years later James formed James Bibler Enterprises and purchased all of the stock in Bibler Brothers Inc.
Following a significant modernization of the company and its equipment from 1986-98, James sold 90% of the company to Freeman Brothers, Inc., in 1998. West Fraser Company of Canada subsequently bought the business in 2014.
James has served as chairman of the Ouachita Timber Purchasers Group and as a member of the Southern Pine Inspection Bureau Board of Directors.
“The pledge that Laurie and James Bibler have made in support of Arkansas Tech University will positively influence the trajectory of our students’ lives for generations to come,” said Dr. Robin E. Bowen, ATU president. “There are no words to express how deeply and sincerely we appreciate the Biblers’ generosity and their support of our mission of student access and student success.”
The Biblers’ previous financial support of Arkansas Tech includes a gift that helped make the construction of Hindsman Tower possible.
“The story of Laurie and James Bibler is one of personal success paired with a passion for helping others,” said Jason Geiken, ATU vice president for advancement. “The pledge that they have made to the ATU Foundation is an expression of their affection for Arkansas Tech and their confidence that these resources will be well invested in providing for the educational needs of ATU students. On behalf of those students, we express our profound gratitude and appreciation to Laurie and James.”