Harold and Syble Gwatney, parents of the late state senator and Democratic Party chair Bill Gwatney, have presented UALR with an additional gift of $50,000 to increase the endowment of a political science scholarship in their son’s memory.
The Bill Gwatney Memorial Endowed Scholarship was established shortly after the younger Gwatney was shot and killed in the state Democratic Party headquarters in 2008. His parents made a gift of $100,000 in December 2008 to endow the scholarship.
The additional gift will provide more scholarships for deserving political science students at UALR. Mr. and Mrs. Gwatney said that they decided to increase the endowment after reading letters from UALR political science students who had received Gwatney Memorial Scholarships.
“Harold said he wanted more scholarships awarded and that he hoped his gift could serve that purpose,” said Dr. Art English, professor of political science.
“He had received personal letters of thanks written by students awarded Gwatney scholarships, and those letters inspired him to want to help more students each year. Together, he and Syble decided to make a gift that would ensure additional scholarships awarded each year.”
Harold Gwatney, chair of the Gwatney Companies, began his career in the automobile sales industry in 1947 and 10 years later was awarded a Chevrolet dealership, which launched a series of business ventures.
Gwatney also rose through the ranks of the Arkansas National Guard, retiring in 1989 as a major general. He also was active in his community, serving two terms on the North Little Rock City Council – public service that his son emulated.
Prior to being named state chair of the Arkansas Democratic Party, Bill Gwatney served 10 years in the state senate representing Jacksonville, Ark. He also was the financial chair of then-candidate Mike Beebe’s campaign for governor in 2006 prior to becoming state party chair.
The younger Gwatney was a fixture at all UALR home basketball games. The Athletic Department posthumously inducted Gwatney into their Hall of Fame during a ceremony prior to the tip-off of the men’s basketball game against New Orleans on Feb. 26, 2009.