UALR celebrates new school year with first BBQ at Bailey

UALR student athletes volunteered their time to serve meals at BBQ at Bailey on Sept. 14.

Every fall for the past 10 years, Russ Riegel has looked forward to the beginning of a new school year with a campus-wide picnic where he can catch up with friends, co-workers, alumni, and students. 

Hosted by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Alumni Association, BBQ at Bailey, previously Burgers at Bailey, celebrated the new semester with a Sept. 14 picnic at the Bailey Alumni and Friends Center that served more than 2,500 people.

“I’ve been going to the Bailey event ever since Burgers at Bailey was a smaller affair where they grilled burgers right on the back patio of the Bailey Center,” said Riegel, a project specialist in information technology at UALR. “It’s a well-oiled machine.”

In its 10th year, the event served barbecue as its main course for the first time. The evolution to BBQ at Bailey also marked the beginning of the tenure of Chancellor Andrew Rogerson, who started on Sept. 1. Also for the first time, the event spilled over onto the front lawn of the chancellor’s home, where 106.7 The Ride radio station broadcast the event live.

“I had a wonderful time at BBQ at Bailey and found it gratifying to see so many faculty, staff, students, and alumni enjoying good food and conversation on my front lawn. I look forward to participating in many more of these events in the coming years,” Rogerson said.

While Burgers at Bailey was immensely popular, there are many who welcomed the change to barbecue as the main course.

For Kristin Higgins, a program associate with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension, BBQ at Bailey served as a perfect opportunity to have a lunch date with her husband, Dusty Higgins, a UALR graphic designer in the Office of Communications. She is thrilled that the meal now features barbecue.

“Barbecue is Arkansas’s favorite food, so it is great to have a delicious, unexpected lunch from the UALR Alumni Association,” Kristin Higgins said. “I love burgers, but I love barbecue more!” 

People line up to get a free meal during BBQ at Bailey Sept. 14 at Bailey Alumni and Friends Center.
People line up to get a free meal during BBQ at Bailey Sept. 14 at Bailey Alumni and Friends Center.

Showing school pride

UALR student athletes and members of the Chancellor’s Leadership Corps generously volunteered their time to set up and serve the delicious meal with barbecue from Whole Hog Café, potato salad, coleslaw, and cookies from Community Bakery. Pepsi and Gateway Bank provided refreshments.

Student organizations recruited new members and promoted themselves with stands at the event. Pi Kappa Alpha President Kane Philley, Vice President Matt Wheeler, and New Member Educator Spencer Sullivan were on hand to promote the fraternity whose members are known as “pikes.”

“This is a great opportunity for students to mingle and to meet our alumni, since alumni are the bread and butter of this establishment,” Philley said. “Most Greeks also wore their letters, and a lot of people who didn’t know about us asked and learned about Pi Kappa Alpha.”

Raising money for student scholarships

The event was also a way to promote the benefits of becoming a member of the UALR Alumni Association, which raises money to support scholarships for deserving UALR students. Faculty and staff can join for $30 per year, and students can join for $10 per year.

“The Bailey event is always a great way for all facets of the UALR community to come together,” said Scott Schuh, past president of the UALR Alumni Association. “I enjoy the opportunity to bring more alumni to join our Alumni Association family, create more scholarship opportunities for our students, and promote this great university.”

Students attend BBQ at Bailey Sept. 14 at Bailey Friends and Alumni Center.
Students attend BBQ at Bailey Sept. 14 at the Bailey Center.

During the event, 70 people joined the Alumni Association. In addition, 10 of those new members became lifetime members, which was celebrated by the ringing of a cowbell.

The UALR Alumni Association recently increased its student scholarship endowment fund to more than $700,000, thanks to a record number of new lifetime members in the 2016 fiscal year.

A single lifetime membership to the UALR Alumni Association costs $500, while a joint membership is $800. Lifetime members receive many benefits, including a 10 percent discount at the UALR Bookstore, a subscription to the Daily Record, invitations to special events, and discounts at dozens of local and national retailers and businesses.  

Don Riggin, president of the UALR Alumni Association board of directors, is motivated by a desire to help all the deserving students who still need scholarships.

“We are always trying to get more members to provide money for scholarships for the simple reason that, until we can provide all the scholarships that are needed by quality students, we haven’t completed our job,” Riggins said. “We need to find the money for the rest of those scholarships, and that is what the Alumni Association is all about.”

People can support UALR by becoming a member of the Alumni Association, participating in the annual giving campaign, making a gift, or by including UALR in estate planning, Riggins said.

BBQ at Bailey was sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor, the Division of Student Affairs, and the Office of Alumni and Development.

In the upper right photo, UALR student athletes volunteered their time to serve meals at BBQ at Bailey on Sept. 14. Photos by UALR Communications/Chris Hatley. 

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