A retired University of Arkansas at Little Rock professor has made a planned giving agreement that will honor his love of Arkansas history and encourage more students to enter the field for years to come.
Dr. Vincent Vinikas, professor emeritus of history who taught at UA Little Rock for 34 years, has donated a revocable trust, worth an estimated $100,000, to UA Little Rock along with his collection of materials about American history. The trust will create two endowed funds, one for the UA Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture and another for the Department of History.
“There are two goals for my donation,” Vinikas said. “One is to promote the study of history, and the other is to promote a sense of community in the Department of History. The first gift promotes the study of history, the most important subject. There is no way to understand the present without understanding the past. I would like people to have a sense of community. The other gift is to promote a sense of collegiality and a community of ideas among faculty and students at the university who are studying, teaching, and researching history.”
The Vinikas Endowment for the Study of American Culture will be used to process and maintain the Vinikas Archival Collection, which contains materials on the Great Depression, Native Americans, American culture, and American social history. The endowment will promote a better understanding of the history of American culture through scholarly study at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels and through public programming.
“Dr. Vinikas dedicated his time to projects that directly involved students in ways that helped them see the relevance of history,” said Dr. Deborah Baldwin, director of the Center for Arkansas History and Culture and associate provost of collections and archives. “This endowment will continue this legacy.”
The second half of the donation will establish the Vinikas Faculty/Student Success Endowment for the Department of History. The fund will promote fellowship and community among history students and faculty by supporting departmental events, including guest speakers, field trips, recruitment, and banquets.
“We are thrilled about Dr. Vinikas’ planned gift to the History Department! His plan to create more opportunities for the historians and geographers of UA Little Rock to gather and build esprit de corps is as unique as it is generous,” said Dr. Jess Porter, chair of the Department of History. “Dr. Vinikas is as friendly a person as has walked through these halls, so what could be more fitting than a fund to celebrate and encourage department camaraderie? Thank you Dr. Vinikas for your past, present, and future contributions to making our department a place where students and faculty find intellectual and social enrichment.”
Vinikas joined UA Little Rock in 1983 and holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University. Before retiring in 2017, he served on the Faculty Senate, as faculty advisor to Phi Alpha Theta, and on an intercollegiate scholarship committee for the United Steelworkers Union.
“A university is only as good as its faculty and supporting our faculty seems critical these days,” Vinikas said. “I hope this gift makes our university a better place, and that it encourages other people to be generous as well.”