UALR has received a gift of $250,000 from the Ottenheimer Brothers Foundation for exterior improvements at the University’s main library named for the family.
Bob Denman, executive director of development at UALR, said the gift will allow the University to improve the west and south entrances of the Ottenheimer library, improve signage, and update landscaping. It also will allow for exterior cleaning of the five-story, brick structure in the center of the main campus.
A pioneer family that had settled in Little Rock eventually established a clothing manufacturing business near the Union Train Station, the Ottenheimers’ company was one of the first in Little Rock to hire black workers in the industry.
The youngest of the brothers, Gus Ottenheimer, valued education after seeing his oldest brother forgo school to support the family and put the younger brothers through college.
In the mid-1950s, Ottenheimer headed an effort to make Little Rock Junior College a four-year institution. In March 1957, LRJC became Little Rock University, a four-year institution. When LRU became joined the University of Arkansas System and became UALR, Ottenheimer served on the initial Board of Visitors from 1969 to 1972. Six years later, Ottenheimer received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from UALR.
“Mr. Ottenheimer began his legacy of support to our institution back in 1955,” Denman said. “This gift continues that legacy of educational support to the citizens of Arkansas.”
Ottenheimer, working with his brother, Leonard, and their sister and brother-in-law, Gladys and Joe Hirsch, established the Ottenheimer Brothers Foundation. The organization has funded scholarships, educational buildings, health centers, and other causes. Gus Ottenheimer died in 1985.
The latest gift will fund an 18-month improvement plan for the exterior of the library beginning in the summer.