UA Little Rock's Capital Campaign
November 21-27, 2022
By Angelita Faller
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 Oct. 13, UA Little Rock hosted a kickoff gala event with key stakeholders. Then on Oct. 14, 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 more than $163 million toward its goal. To date, more than 20,300 donors have supported the Centennial Campaign.
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.
“Education was very important to Yupo,” his wife Susan Chan said. “Yupo’s vision boiled down to an interest in helping make UA Little Rock an important center for engineering and operations research. The two things he most enjoyed about working at UA Little Rock were mentoring individual students to make a difference in their lives and doing engineering research. He wanted to make a significant difference to UA Little Rock.”
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. The scholarships are named the Chan Wui and Yunyin Endowed Scholarship funds in memory of Dr. Chan’s parents to honor their commitment to education.
Dr. Chan joined UA Little Rock in 2000, where he spent two decades as a leading engineering educator and researcher. He founded the Chan Wui and Yunyin Rising Star Workshop to consider the analytical relationship between mobility and communication and established a chapter of Tau Beta Pi, an honor society for engineering students, at UA Little Rock. In later years at UA Little Rock, he worked with a team of scientists to develop a small, cost-effective way to observe atmospheric levels of greenhouse gasses using CubeSats.
“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.”
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 and 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 18.3 percent helping to ensure college is affordable. This campaign initiative will continue that effort.
“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.”
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 percent 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 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.
1. On Oct. 14, UA Little Rock Chancellor Christina Drale announced the start of the Centennial Campaign, a new $250 million fundraising effort celebrating the university’s 100th anniversary in 2027.
2.UA Little Rock Chancellor Christina Drale, members of the Centennial Campaign Committee, and university leaders applaud during the Centennial Campaign Kickoff Gala announcing the university has raised $162 million of the $250 million campaign goal.
3. (Top left) - Helaine Williams, a UA Little Rock alumna and Sunday Style editor/columnist at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has her choice of drinks from the champaign wall at the Centennial Campaign Kickoff Gala on Oct. 13. (Top right). Guests of the UA Little Rock Centennial Campaign Kickoff Gala celebrate the start of the campaign with a confetti blast. (Bottom left) The Yupo and Susan Chan Charitable Trust announced a $6.75 million gift honoring Dr. Yupo Chan, the founding chair of the Department of Systems Engineering. He passed away in 2022. (Bottom right) University leaders and members of the Centennial Campaign Committee watch a video commemorating the 95-year history of UA Little Rock.