As a two-time alumna of the University of Central Arkansas and now as dean of UCA’s Schedler Honors College, Patricia Smith ’01, ’03 has witnessed the profound influence higher education can have on students’ lives. That firsthand experience has made her passionate about making education accessible to as many students as possible.
“UCA has played a very big role in my life,” Smith said. “Starting as an undergraduate here and then for the last 19 years as part of my career, I have been blessed with the ability to work with amazing students. It has helped me see the importance of expanding access to higher education. It’s something I really want to invest in.”
Wanting to play an active part in providing support for students, Smith considered a variety of ways to give back to the university. But as the parent of 15-year-old twins, with personal expenses like cars and college on the horizon, making a major gift that could provide the kind of impact she was looking for wasn’t really feasible.
However, as she and her husband were updating their estate plans, Smith realized she could make provisions for her children while still providing for a substantial gift to the university.
“We set up a life insurance policy to make sure our kids were taken care of,” Smith explained. “There was room in the policy where we could set aside $25,000 as a planned gift for UCA, which is a much larger gift than we could give right now.”
Smith noted that making a planned gift to the university offered her several benefits. It allows her to support the areas on campus she cares most about. It also allows her to create a lasting legacy with a gift that will continue to benefit the university far into the future.
“One of the real advantages of planned giving is that it can make a huge difference to the university in the long run,” Smith said. “The payoff for this type of gift is something that, even at this stage of my life, I know will be impactful long into the future. And it’s rewarding to think that my gift will help provide opportunities for UCA students for years to come.”
Smith’s gift also made her one of the newest members of the Doyne Legacy Society, which consists of alumni and friends who have included the UCA Foundation as a beneficiary of their estate planning. She hopes that her gift will inspire others to consider planned giving as a way to invest in the future of UCA.
Not surprisingly, Smith designated her gift to provide scholarships for the Schedler Honors College, an area of need that she feels particularly passionate about. As an administrator, she’s seen how students benefit from financial assistance, especially when faced with unexpected challenges. And many of those positive outcomes are the direct result of previous planned gifts to the university.
“I’ve seen how someone leaving a portion of their estate to UCA through a planned gift can be really uplifting for students,” Smith said. “Working with students every day, I learn about the challenges they’re going through and see the obstacles they’re facing. Sometimes they’re so close to the finish line but something out of their control gets in the way. Being able to connect them with a scholarship could be the difference that helps them earn their degree.”
By making a planned gift to UCA, Smith is ensuring that her legacy of supporting students in their pursuit of higher education will continue long after she’s gone. It’s a testament to her dedication to the university and her belief in the transformative power of education.
“I really believe that higher education is the most successful instrument we have for creating opportunities for people to reach their goals,” Smith said. “UCA is front and center in trying to make that happen. I wanted to invest in that, so that even after I pass away, there will be opportunities to benefit students.”