The University of Central Arkansas raised a total of $10,252,463 for 2017-18, making it the best fundraising year in the history of UCA.
“Our staff puts forth an amazing effort every day. They’re dedicated to providing meaningful engagement opportunities with alumni and community leaders in support of our students,” said Kale Gober, vice president for University Advancement.
The banner year in fundraising involved multiple milestones, including private scholarships awarded, Day of Giving funds raised and net asset totals. The UCA Foundation’s net assets are $50,461,693, making this the first time net assets have exceeded $50 million. The endowment is $27,877,726.
This fiscal year also marked the first time the university’s foundation awarded more than $1 million in private scholarships in a single academic year. The foundation awarded a total of $1,224,322, bringing the UCA Foundation’s total scholarships to more than $11 million since its inception.
One such scholarship is the H.M. Firestone Family Scholarship, which is based on financial need and academic performance. This year’s recipient is Claudy Sarpong, a junior biology major from Ghana. Sarpong’s journey to UCA was inspired by UCA 2015 Distinguished Alumnus Dr. Kofi Boahene, professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.
While attending high school at St. John’s School, Sekondi-Takoradi in Ghana, Sarpong lost his best friend to malaria. His loss created a deep desire to attend college, study biology and one day become a physician. What he didn’t know was where to attend college.
During an online search, Sarpong discovered a video featuring Boahene performing a medical procedure. Further research revealed Boahene was also from Ghana and had attended UCA. Sarpong knew then that he wanted to follow in Boahene’s footsteps.
“This scholarship is the foundation of my future. I want to become a physician and set up a clinic in my community. Without this scholarship, I can’t stay on campus, continue my studies and get to this point,” Sarpong said. “Dr. Boahene gave me the encouragement to do this. If he can do it, then I can do it, too.”
Day of Giving, an annual 24-hour fundraising campaign held in March, raised a record $434,526. Through increased fund selection options, donors were able to tailor their giving needs, providing a springboard to shatter the original goal of $50,000 by 947 percent.
“I’m especially proud of our student participation in the UCA Day of Giving. The event provided a great opportunity for students to be philanthropic and partner with our Advancement staff. They are thankful for the financial support they have received and want to do their part in providing for the needs of future students,” Gober said.
Of major impact on the year-end totals were four gifts of at least $1 million each, including a gift from Rick ’81 and Anne Massey to create the Arch Ford Endowed Scholarship Fund.
“Of all the historic figures in our state, very few achieved what Arch Ford did,” Rick said. “There’s a first-generation guy who changed the world. There’s no better example of what an education can do for somebody.”
The fund was established in honor of Arch Ford, a 1930 graduate and 1992 Distinguished Alumnus who spent his life as a pioneer and champion of education in the state of Arkansas. Ford served as commissioner of the Arkansas Department of Education from 1953-78. The endowed gift provides support for the retention of first-generation Arkansas college students through need-based scholarships.
Joe Ford, son of Arch Ford, and his wife, Jo Ellen Ford, donated an additional $250,000 to the fund.
“Our alumni and friends have a heart for giving,” said UCA President Houston Davis. “This is a wonderful example of the impact our alumni and donors can have on a student’s life and the world!”
Suleima Gomez, a sophomore from Belleville, Arkansas, is one of the first recipients of the Arch Ford scholarship and was recently admitted into UCA’s nursing program.
Gomez became interested in nursing when her little brother was born prematurely. She saw the difference caring nurses had on her brother and her family. “I’ve personally seen how nurses affect people and their lives,” Gomez said. “So, with that career I would be able to give back to the community.”
The Firestone and Ford scholarships are two of the 193 endowed scholarships benefiting students. Endowed gifts remain intact while the interest from the gift provides perpetual student support.
“Our donors and community partners have proven their commitment to UCA. They believe in UCA, and they believe in our students, faculty and staff,” Davis said. “They are engaged and ready for what comes next. Together we will build on this momentum to confirm and expand UCA’s role as a relevant and dynamic institution of higher learning in central Arkansas and across the state and region.”