Taste of Little Rock Honorees Promote scholarship: Alfred Williams and Elaine Eubank consider higher education life changing
April 9-15, 2018
By Becca Bona
As a traditional student at Little Rock University (LRU, UA Little Rock’s predecessor), Alfred Williams relished his time spent on campus. And while he managed to take “advantage of everything the campus had to offer except for the classes,” he successfully graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history and political science in 1966.
Williams’ wife, Elaine Eubank, had a different, yet nourishing experience when she attended UA Little Rock. Although a nontraditional student, she worked her way through college, making strides as the first in her family to graduate with a degree in 1975.
Neither Williams nor Eubank can imagine their lives shaping out the same way without UA Little Rock, which is why, all these years later, the two continue to give to the University, to ensure that students have the opportunity for success.
“Giving makes college available for students who are bright and might leave the community or might not ever get a chance to go to the school,” says Williams. “That helps our University, but more importantly, it helps our students and our community.”
After attending a military prep school in his high school years, Williams found himself at LRU in the fall of 1962. He had no trouble making friends and settling in to his college experience, which is why he finds it so easy to give back.
“That has a lot to do with my interest now in scholarships, because I didn’t want for the funds, or didn’t have to think about paying it back – my family offered that. I was one of six and everybody had college opportunities,” he says.
Like Williams, Eubank had a pretty clear inclination of what she wanted out of her education when she made it to campus – a budding interest in social work. “I did that when I was first out of school, and then that gradually morphed into public administration,” she says.
Eubank met Williams when she worked in insurance for Alfred’s sister. “And she hated insurance,” laughs Williams, eyes sparkling.
The two would go on to have successful careers. Currently Eubank serves as the president and chief executive officer of Easter Seals, a nonprofit organization that serves children and adults with disabilities – she has had experience with other nonprofits as well. Williams serves as senior vice president and risk consultant for BXS Insurance.
Even though the two have kept busy professionally, they’ve managed to keep their UA Little Rock tie alive and well during their more than 30 years of marriage.
Williams has a personal tie to the University, as his father – Grainger Williams – was heavily involved with the transformation of Little Rock Junior College to LRU, and eventually UA Little Rock. Alfred himself has previously served as the chair of the UA Little Rock Alumni Board and was honored as the 2013 President’s Award Honoree. Along that vein, Eubank received the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award.
As far as scholarships go, Williams began focusing his attention there after he and Elaine both joined the Alumni Association as lifetime members.
Williams endowed the E. Grainger and Francis Williams scholarship as well as the Elaine Eubank scholarship, as gifts to honor his parents and his wife.
“We did it for my family and then I did a surprise one for Elaine,” he says, chuckling, “Then she did a surprise one for me – the Alfred Williams Scholarship – and it just worked out.”
“It’s generous of UA Little Rock to honor us, because our gifts haven’t been too large, but we’re an example that every gift counts and can make a difference,” Eubank adds.
Scholarships aside, the couple have both had their fair share of student interaction through internships.
“I’ve had that chance pretty regularly, actually,” says Eubank, “I would think that is an incredible thing for students to have an internship, […] I’m sure that’s really important for students to help them really hone in on what they want to do out of college.”
The couple continues to be impressed by the relationship between UA Little Rock and the community at large.
“UA Little Rock is so good to the community – working for nonprofits, I have had the benefit of being on the receiving end of faculty member’s time or partnerships with UA Little Rock. That’s been a constant for me over the years,” says Eubank. She highlights the ACE program, a partnership between UA Little Rock and Easter Seals which helps students on campus with disabilities.
“That’s the importance that I think the community sometimes doesn’t get – to be a successful community or a successful university – they’ve really got to work hand in hand. […] Neither one of us can be as successful as we should be without working together,” adds Williams.
Needless to say, the couple was surprised to hear that the UA Little Rock Alumni Association decided to honor them at this year’s Taste of Little Rock. The event takes place on April 26 at the Jack Stephens Center from 6 to 8 p.m.
UA Little Rock Associate Vice Chancellor Andrea Angel says, “What both Alfred and Elaine and their family has done for our University – not only with scholarship and giving but with time and service […] it was really the easiest choice to be made to honor them.”
The program-free event provides a relaxed environment for patrons to enjoy good food while supporting students at the University.
“One thing that we’re changing about the event this year to hopefully have more interaction in the following years with students, is that all the proceeds from the event will go to spendable scholarships – instead of increasing the endowment. That means we’ll have taste of Little Rock Scholars,” explains Angel. Next year during the event these scholars will be present, meet the honorees and have a bigger role.
“Taste of Little Rock has always been one of my favorite events because there’s no program and there’s many people there you haven’t seen in a while. Plus, there is a lot of delicious food, and then it’s just the icing on the cake that by participating in that event you’re helping build scholarships,” Eubank says.
For more information about attending the event, buying tickets ($75 per individual), or getting involved, visit: http://ualr.edu/giving/event/taste-of-little-rock-2018/.
From a nontraditional student working her way through college to a traditional student-about-campus, Elaine Eubank and Alfred Williams each remember their time at UA Little Rock as positive. Since getting back involved with the Alumni Association, the power couple has given their time, talent, and funds to the school. They both view scholarships as a boon not only to the school but also to the community at large. (Photo provided)