Health care for children and programs at universities got a boost from Arkansas’s philanthropists this year, but nothing compares to the single $120 million gift from the Walton Charitable Support Foundation to create a School of Art at the University of Arkansas.
The foundation’s pledge, to be made over five years, is the largest gift to an American university to establish an art school, the university said in announcing the donation, made in August.
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Also in the arts philanthropy picture, the Windgate Charitable Foundation of Siloam Springs, which donated $20 million to UA Little Rock to build its new visual arts building, which will open in January, made a $15 million gift to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art to endow the Windgate Educational Excellence through the Arts fund.
Arkansas Children’s Hospital’s campaign to raise funds for the $427.7 million Northwest Arkansas campus has continued apace with foundation and individual giving for the hospital, which will open in spring 2018 on Interstate 49 in Springdale on land donated by Robin and Gary George and Cathy and David Evans and their families. The hospital will have 24 inpatient beds, a 24-hour pediatric Emergency Department, an outpatient clinic, Angel One helipad and diagnostic services.
Jeannie Hulen, interim director of the School of Art, with Blake Rickman of the UA advancement office and Dean Todd Shields, worked on a proposal for the School of Art over two years. The university’s obligation will be to double its programming dollars over the next five years, from $3.2 million to $6.7 million. The Walton gift will provide $10 million for renovation of the university’s Edward Durrell Stone Fine Arts Center and $110 million into an endowment, to be distributed at 4 percent of available funds yearly.
Hulen said the proposal was based on “what we think we can do and are able to do and what we do really well but don’t have funding to do better.” Already, she said, the UA has a solid arts faculty foundation and graduate programs. “Now, we’ll be able to establish that on a grander scale,” she said.
With the Walton gift, the university will be a “model for inclusion and diversity,” UA Foundation President Kaneaster Hodges said in a press release announcing the gift. “In a lot of ways,” Hulen said, “what were really taking on is the land grant mission of the university … and that will not just facilitate art. It’s not just about art.” Hulen says the art school will reach out to students across the state who might not even be considering college.
The gift will also bolster the economy surrounding the cultural corridor in the northwest region of the state that Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the future arts project The Momentary anchor, Hulen said. “If you look at any arts community — Providence [R.I.], Kansas City, Richmond [Va.] — it’s the art schools who have a lot to do with the rising economy.”
Hulen said over 80 million people have clicked on the link to the gift from the university’s webpage. She expects recruiting for the 26 new faculty positions will not be difficult. A director for the school should be hired by spring.
“I’m just really hopeful this whole region will be transformed for the visual and performing arts,” she said.
Theater is also getting a shot in the arm, thanks to the Walton Family Foundation’s pledge of a total of $12.5 million in two grants to TheatreSquared for construction of its new 50,000-square-foot theater in Fayetteville. The foundation also made a grant of $1.8 million for programming. The city of Fayetteville has pledged $3.1 million to the theater.
The Arkansas Times’ philanthropy honor roll includes these significant donors announced since December 2016:
The estate of Jim and Wanda Lee donated $3.69 million to Arkansas State University to endow chairs, scholarships, art gallery support and student life.
J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. of Lowell gave $2.75 million to the University of Arkansas to create the J.B. Hunt Innovation Center of Excellence to advance supply chain management efficiency.
Ted and Leslie Belden of Fayetteville made a $2 million planned gift to the University of Arkansas to support faculty, students and athletics.
The Massey Family Charitable Foundation committed $2 million to the University of Arkansas’s Advance Arkansas scholarship initiative.
The Endeavor Foundation gave $2 million to programs to be offered at Arkansas Children’s Northwest.
Kaaren Biggs and Packaging Specialties Inc. of Fayetteville gave $2 million to Arkansas Children’s Northwest. A conference space will be named for the Biggs family and PSI.
The Arkansas Forestry Association’s Log A Load for Kids gave Arkansas Children’s Hospital $575,000, as part of its $2 million pledge to the emergency department.
Barbara A. Tyson and Tyson Foods made a gift of $1.5 million to the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences to create the KATV, Channel 7, Preservation Project.
Fadil Bayyari and family of Springdale gave $1 million to support the construction of Arkansas Children’s Hospital Northwest. The family respite area will be named for the Bayyari family.
The Schmieding Foundation of Springdale donated $1 million to Arkansas Children’s Hospital Northwest, earning naming rights for the occupational and physical therapy gym.
Tyson Foods chairman John Tyson pledged an additional $1 million to the Don Tyson Center for Agricultural Studies, named for the company’s founder. The Tyson family and Tyson Foods provided $5 million for construction of the center; John Tyson’s gift will go to furnishings.
The Leonard Johnson Trust is giving $1 million to Arkansas Children’s Northwest. The diagnostic center will be named for Kathleen Johnson.
Joanie and Jon Dyer contributed $1 million to the construction of Arkansas Children’s Hospital Northwest. The emergency department will be named after the Dyer family.
The estate of former Fort Smith City Administrator Ray Gosack made donations totaling $750,000 to the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.
Denise Henderson of Hot Springs pledged $600,000 to the University of Arkansas.
Jerry and Kay Brewer of Fayetteville pledged $500,000 to create the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub, and their son and daughter-in-law, Clete and Tammy Brewer, will give another $100,000.
The Ryan Gibson Foundation is giving $500,000 to fund the precision medicine program at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. The gift was a challenge response to a gift by Haskell Dickinson and the Trinity Foundation pledge of $1 million for the program.
The Nabholz Charitable Foundation donated $450,000 to Arkansas Children’s Hospital to provide scholarships for nursing education.
Ben and Janet Hyneman of Jonesboro committed $375,000 in 2016 to create the Janet and Ben Hyneman Leadership Endowment at the University of Arkansas.
The Bradbury Family Foundation donated $300,000 to Arkansas State University to endow the Bradbury Free Enterprise Scholars Program, which will provide six scholarships every year to business students.
Aaron and Jaye Marshall of Fayetteville gave $250,000 to Arkansas Children’s Northwest.
Les and Leslie Carnine pledged $250,000 to the University of Arkansas’s College of Education and Health Professions.
Vicki and Gary Jech of Springdale donated $250,000 to Arkansas Children’s Northwest. A waiting area will be named for the Jech family.
Hogs for Hope, an organization of students at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, pledged $250,000 to Arkansas Children’s Northwest.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story attributed the Walton gift to create the School of Art to the Walton Family Foundation. That is in error; the gift comes from the Walton Charitable Support Foundation.