The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has announced the largest fundraising effort in university history ahead of its 100-year anniversary in 2027. The Centennial Campaign aims to raise $250 million throughout the campaign.
“This campaign comes at a special moment in the history of this university,” Chancellor Christina S. Drale said. “The last 100 years have been an inspired journey to excellence. By raising these funds, we are ensuring that UA Little Rock will continue on that journey and continue to provide educational opportunities for generations of students to come.”
The university announced the public phase of its campaign at two events. On Thursday evening, UA Little Rock hosted a kickoff event with key stakeholders. Then on Friday, the university formally announced the campaign to the university community at BBQ at Bailey.
In announcing the public phase of the campaign, the university announced it has already raised nearly $163 million toward its goal. Additionally, the total included a special gift announcement of a $6.75 million gift from the Yupo and Susan Chan Charitable Trust honoring Dr. Yupo Chan, the founding chair of the Department of Systems Engineering, who passed away in 2020. The gift is the fifth largest in university history, and it is the second largest endowed gift in university history. It provides $1.5 million to establish the Yupo Chan Director of the School of Engineering Endowment, $2 million for undergraduate student scholarships, and $3.25 million for graduate student scholarships.
“Dr. Chan served as the initial chair of systems engineering and brought engineering to our campus,” said Dr. Lawrence Whitman, dean of the Donaghey College of STEM. “Dr. Chan’s legacy will continue to positively impact engineering at our university by strengthening the School of Engineering and Engineering Technology at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. We are grateful to the Chans for the transformational gift that will provide for the future of engineering on our campus.”
To date, more than 20,100 donors have supported the Centennial Campaign.
“This campaign celebrates our first 100 years and ensures a robust beginning to our second 100 years by reducing student debt, securing the best in instruction, and providing a great living-learning environment for the campus community,” said Christian O’Neal, vice chancellor for university advancement. “The boldest fundraising campaign in the university’s history will empower students, enhance our academic programs, and transform our community and Arkansas for the better.”
The Centennial Campaign is centered around four key emphasis areas, all designed to support the university’s mission of improving students’ lives and enhancing communities. The four emphasis areas are student scholarships, student success initiatives, living & learning environment upgrades, and program excellence. Scholarships help ensure students have access to the high quality education UA Little Rock provides. Since 2018, UA Little Rock has reduced its net price by more than 22% helping to ensure college is affordable. This campaign initiative will continue that effort.
Student success emphasizes the services UA Little Rock provides to support the whole student, ensuring success in and out of the classroom through services such as tutoring, career coaching, and emergency support. It is many of these efforts that have helped UA Little Rock increase its returning student retention rate by 10% since last fall, and expanding these offerings will help ensure more students have the tools they need to succeed.
A great learning environment offers students the ability to learn in updated, state-of-the-art classrooms and labs. By having access to the latest technology, UA Little Rock is providing a game-changing atmosphere for students to learn. This emphasis area also centers on creating more campus environments for students to connect with peers and forge long-term relationships. Over the last year, the university has updated the Learning Commons gathering space in the Ottenheimer Library to allow for enhanced engagement with other students, and more campus gathering spaces are planned as part of this campaign.
Program excellence distinguishes UA Little Rock by helping the university recruit and retain talented faculty and researchers. By investing in our academic programs, we are able to ensure students continue to receive a high quality education. Offering internships, connections with industry, and opportunities to conduct research helps students succeed, graduate and then positively impact our communities.
Jerry Damerow and Alfred Williams are leading the Centennial Campaign Committee as co-chairs. The campaign committee also includes Chancellor Christina S. Drale, Provost Ann Bain, Ben Bailey, James Bobo, Bob Denman, Thomas Dickinson, Courtney Little, R.J. Martino, Don Riggin, Cheryl Shuffield, Bill Sowell and Michael Williams Sr.
“If we don’t build Arkansas, who will? We could give our support anywhere, but we’ve found the best students are right here at home,” said philanthropists Sherri and Jerry Damerow, who have made a planned gift of $1 million to support scholarships for science majors at UA Little Rock.
The campaign began its silent phase in 2017 and will conclude in 2027. Some of the donations have included a $25 million gift from an anonymous donor for scholarships and student success programs, a $5.5 million gift from the Donaghey Foundation to construct a new north to south promenade called Trojan Way and a new Library Plaza, and a $2.25 million gift from the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust to preserve and educate the public about the history of Arkansas and the contributions of Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller.
For more information about the Centennial Campaign, visit ualr.edu/centennial or call 501-916-3208.