The 16th annual Taste of Little Rock will introduce guests to some of the best food from the finest restaurants in central Arkansas while honoring Arkansas Heart Hospital CEO Bruce Murphy for his longtime support of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and his work to impact the health of Arkansans.
The event will be on Thursday, April 4, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Jack Stephens Center at UA Little Rock. Proceeds benefit the UA Little Rock Alumni Association Scholarship Fund.
Mauri Douglas (Class of ’74 and ’86) is co-chairing the event for the fifth year along with Stephanie Caruthers, a managing partner at Trios restaurant.
“I have helped interview students who have applied for scholarships,” Douglas said. “ I’ve heard their stories. I know what these scholarships mean to our students.”
The event honors Dr. Murphy, a longtime Little Rock cardiologist, who graduated in 1975 summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. In 2011, he became the CEO of Arkansas Heart Hospital.
“We are excited to honor Dr. Murphy for his passion to impact the lives of Arkansans through education and creating a healthy lifestyle,” said Ryan Miller, director of the UA Little Rock Alumni Association. “He is passionate about moving the city of Little Rock forward in collaboration with the university. When I first met him, he said he wanted to make Little Rock more of a college town – and I believe this effort will have a lasting impact on our community.”
A longtime supporter of UA Little Rock, Murphy gave $800,000 last year to the UA Little Rock College of Education and Health Professions. His gift helps support the Student Success Initiatives Fund, which provides academic tutoring and mentoring to students as well as a full-time social worker to assist students. Murphy said he hopes the gift will help equip students with the resources they need to overcome obstacles that might prevent them from getting a college education.
“Dr. Murphy understands the role UA Little Rock plays in this city and is willing to support programs that promote student success while helping the economy of the region,” UA Little Rock Chancellor Andrew Rogerson said.
Murphy has also been instrumental in creating new and innovative ways to impact the health of Arkansans. His vision of exercise and food as medicine can be seen in a variety of initiatives. The Strong Hearts Rehabilitation Center is the largest intensive cardiac rehabilitation facility in the state and the only unit in central Arkansas. There, patients are treated through diet, exercise, and lifestyle education to help them live their best lives.
His work is also reflected in the mission of the Arkansas Heart Hospital Foundation, now known as Champions for Health, which focuses on helping Arkansas youth learn how to plan for health.
According to Murphy, “To be a transformative organization, you have to be disruptive.”
This year’s Taste of Little Rock will feature more than 40 restaurants. Several restaurants from years past will be participating along with some new eateries.
“I’ve had many attendees tell me that Taste of Little Rock is their favorite event,” Douglas said. “Once people come, they want to come back again and again.”
Tickets are $75 each, or $35 for lifetime alumni members, and can be ordered online.