Written by Angelita Faller
Friends and supporters of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock came together for the university’s 2021 Giving Day that raised almost $168,000 for scholarships, student-athletes, diversity and inclusion initiatives, UA Little Rock Public Radio, emergency support for students affected by COVID-19, and more.
The March 18 event represents the university’s most successful Giving Day to date. The first Giving Day in 2018 had 131 donors, while more than 330 people donated to this year’s event. The 2021 total also represents an increase of nearly $138,000 over last year’s event, which raised approximately $30,000.
“I am blown away by the generosity of our donors on Giving Day,” said Samantha Wiley, director of annual giving. “It was exciting to see all of the engagement from more than 300 alumni, friends, faculty, staff, and students as they made contributions to enhance the student experience at UA Little Rock.”
The 2021 Giving Day campaign pillars focused on scholarship and student support, program excellence, and learning environment. Donors shared personalized messages about what UA Little Rock means to them and why giving is important.
“As lifetime members of the UA Little Rock Alumni Association, we were very happy to contribute to UA Little Rock Giving Day by donating to the Alumni Board Endowed Scholarship,” said Jeremy and Katrina Owoh, who are lifetime members of the Alumni Association. “We know that education is the one thing that can never be taken away from a person, and it is also one of the most precious gifts a person can give to someone. Just as we were fortunate to obtain a quality education from UA Little Rock, we wanted to make sure that others had the same opportunity as they pursue their goals and dreams.”
Giving Day was also made successful through a variety of generous dollar-to-dollar matches as well as the addition of alumni, board members, faculty, staff, and students who served as social media ambassadors to increase engagement on different social networks. Julie Brown, a 1998 graduate of UA Little Rock, made a match of up to $15,000, while the UA Little Rock Foundation Fund Board provided a match of up to $16,000. An anonymous donor matched up to $1,000 for the Allan Ward Scholarship, which benefits students majoring in speech communication.
The UA Little Rock funds that received the most donations include:
UA Little Rock Foundation Fund Board Endowed Scholarship – $29,550
Greg and Marilyn Brown Academic Success Center for Athletics – $18,825
Annual Fund for UA Little Rock which supports the area of greatest need – $14,010
Alumni Association Board of Directors Endowed Scholarship – $6,065
“Giving Day would not have been successful without the support from members of our Alumni Board of Directors and Foundation Fund Board,” said Christian O’Neal, vice chancellor for university advancement. “Not only did they serve as social ambassadors, but they also contributed themselves financially. Under the leadership of Cheryl Shuffield, chair of the Foundation Fund Board and member of the UA Little Rock Campaign Cabinet, the Foundation Fund Board Endowed Scholarship was the top fund of the day. The generous matching gift from Julie Brown generated much excitement leading up to the day.”
Jessie Burchfield, associate dean for the information and technology services and director of the Law Library at William H. Bowen School of Law, also provided a $1,000 match for any donation on Giving Day. As a graduate of the Donaghey Scholars Honors Program and a first-generation college student, Burchfield knows how important scholarships can be for students to succeed. She was empowered to get her law degree through Bowen’s part-time program and is now an associate professor of law as well.
“I deeply believe in the mission of UA Little Rock and the Bowen School of Law,” Burchfield said. “As a scholarship recipient, I’ve benefited greatly from the generosity of donors, and I know personally the transformative power of higher education.”
Whitney Burgess, the 2020 recipient of the UA Little Rock School of Business Dean’s Award of Excellence and vice president of marketing and strategy at MHP/Team SI, said she gives back to UA Little Rock because she believes in the success of graduates from the School of Business.
“I participated in the UA Little Rock Giving Day because supporting the university is important in fostering a thriving economy in Little Rock,” Burgess said. “When I was a student, I gained the confidence to develop my skills in marketing and the tools to succeed in the workplace. I have always appreciated that the faculty had real-life experience with big marketing and advertising campaigns and corporations because they were able to translate methodology into execution, bringing the material to life. As an alumnus, I’m very proud of having graduated from the UA Little Rock School of Business and want to continue to do my part to ensure future scholars have the opportunity to learn, grow, and be confident leaders in Central Arkansas.”