UA Little Rock welcomed the fall semester with a BBQ picnic at the Bailey Alumni and Friends Center on Sept. 5. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni enjoyed a delicious meal catered by Whole Hog Café with dessert from Community Bakery.
“This is the 13th annual lunch at Bailey. We kick off each academic year this way,” said Kristi Smith, senior director of development and interim director of the Alumni Association. “It’s a perfect way to get students and faculty and campus staff all together to mingle. It’s also a way for alumni to reconnect to the university and maintain friendships.”
Smith was appreciative of the many student volunteers who helped make the event a success. “The baseball teams set up tables and the swim and dance teams have also helped with logistics. The Greek organizations are here, too,” Smith said.
James Bobo (‘05), Alumni Board of Directors president-elect and chair of the membership committee, echoed his appreciation for the role students play in contributing to an atmosphere of community camaraderie.
“This is an awesome event. We’re excited to see so many students, friends, and staff!” Bobo said.
Approximately 2,100 people participated in the popular two-hour BBQ.
“I think BBQ at Bailey is the semester kickoff event the campus community most looks forward to attending,” said Cassie Jo Gehring, accountant for the Office of Alumni and Development. “It is very well attended and brings employees, faculty, alumni, and students together. We especially have seen a lot of university employees participating, and many people have joined the Alumni Association.”
In addition to helping make connections, the BBQ emphasized support for the Alumni Association, which annually provides approximately $145,250 in student scholarships. The Alumni Association gained 21 first-time members and 74 membership renewals during the BBQ, along with three lifetime memberships.
Appreciation for the impact of UA Little Rock was a common thread in conversations at the BBQ.
“My education in radio, TV, and film paved the way for me to go on to do some fun things in my life,” shared alumnus Daryl Stout (‘83). “For example, I am the volunteer examiner liaison for the UA Little Rock hand radio club, and I run the amateur radio test at UA Little Rock Benton. Part of my education included journalism classes, and that made me a good proofreader. Now that I’m retired, I proofread for print screening projects and am in charge of a newsletter publication. I often reflect on how my education from this school is still relevant to my daily activities today.”
Greek organizations participated in the BBQ with booths to share information about each sorority and fraternity on campus.
“BBQ at Bailey is an opportunity for us to meet a new set of freshman face-to-face,” said Catie Ross, a junior studying business and human resources management who serves as director of campus activities for Chi Omega. “Sometimes, it’s easier for people to learn about Greek life by meeting us personally and having an actual conversation. We want people to feel comfortable getting to know us, as well as the other Greek organizations. BBQ at Bailey is one of the best times to help freshmen become aware.”
Appreciation for the uniqueness of Greek life at UA Little Rock was a common sentiment.
Lucas Ray, a sophomore studying mechanical engineering, explained that he joined Delta Chi because of its emphasis on advancing justice, developing character, promoting friendship, and academic achievement.
“I didn’t have to pretend to fit cookie-cutter expectations of being a certain type of person,” Ray said. “Our fraternity here encourages us to be the best versions of ourselves.”
Libby Walsh, a junior studying nursing and member of Kappa Delta, explained that bigger schools feel much different from UA Little Rock because they have hundreds of members in a sorority chapter.
“But here, we can really get to know each other. We’re here for the real friendships,” Walsh said.
Kappa PSI president Kevin Davidson and Pike Kappa Alpha president Hunter Hobby emphasized the value of alumni relationships in their fraternities.
“We’re visiting Mills High School next week to promote abstinence and safe sex practices,” said Davidson, a junior studying mechanical engineering. “One of our alumni fraternity brothers is principal there, which has helped us make good connections and gain access to serving at the school.”
Representatives from the UA Little Rock Campus Garden Alliance were on-site selling local honey and encouraging participation in the campus garden located along Fair Park Boulevard.
Also on-site at the BBQ were representatives from Save 10, a movement to empower women to save for retirement.
“One of our 10-year goals is to empower people to save for housing and for a lifetime of financial security,” said Cathianne Watkins of Southern Bancorp Community Partners. “We encourage women to save 10 percent of their gross income for retirement. We encourage practicing the habit of not spending all of the money you earn.”
In addition to saving for their own financial goals, people can support UA Little Rock by becoming a member of the Alumni Association, contributing to annual campaigns, making a gift, or by including the university in estate planning. Donations are accepted through the Office of Alumni and Development.
BBQ at Bailey was sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor, the Division of Student Affairs, and the Office of Alumni and Development.