The Melissa A. Courtway Scholarship Fund and the newly established Tom Courtway Endowed Scholarship Fund received a gift of $50,000 and $100,000, respectively, from longtime supporters, Rush and Linda Harding.

The Harding’s $100,000 gift to establish the Tom Courtway Endowed Scholarship Fund comes with a challenge to match their $100,000 donation to the fund with an additional $100,000 raised by the UCA community.

“It is our hope that all who appreciate President Courtway’s devotion to UCA will support this initiative,” said Rush Harding.

The establishment of this fund was kept secret until its reveal during the annual scholarship reception hosted by the UCA Foundation on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at the historic McCastlain Ballroom. The annual event allows scholarship recipients the opportunity to thank donors and share stories of how their generosity has affected their lives.

After the scholarship was revealed, Tom said he was in a “little bit of shock,” but he was encouraged that the future of many UCA students was more secure.

President Tom Courtway established the Melissa A. Courtway Scholarship Fund in 2013 with the intent of supporting single parents who wish to continue their education at UCA. He had been working to fully endow the scholarship since its establishment. With the Harding family gift, the scholarship is now endowed and available for awarding.

“I think this is a meaningful way to acknowledge the contributions that Melissa has made to the university not just at the forefront as the first lady of the university but as a mother and a wife,” said Harding, adding that the Harding family also wanted to honor President Courtway.

“We want that to be a meaningful endowed scholarship that will change the lives of many young people at UCA for years to come,” Harding said.

“By the grace, the generosity and the heart of Rush and Linda Harding, today it was made possible. So it’s almost like a dream that was answered,” Tom said. “Today the dream became a reality.”

“I am so honored and I am so excited. I’m excited for the students and I’m excited to meet them and I’m excited to hear their stories,” Melissa said. “Rush and Linda Harding have the biggest heart and I’m just speechless about this scholarship. I don’t know what to say.”

“As long as we make sure that our number one objective is student success and student progression toward graduation, many, many people will help. And certainly the Harding family has set the bar very high, and we are so grateful and so appreciative and so humbled by their generosity, their undying commitment to UCA and our students,” Tom said. “Their heart and their compassion know no bounds.”

President Courtway is serving his last year as UCA’s president. UCA has seen a lot of change during his tenure, so many in the UCA community will wish to keep his legacy going into the future.

“It is appropriate to know President Courtway’s legacy will live on not only as he continues as a faculty member but far beyond that,” said Kale Gober, vice president for University Advancement. “I am confident that the constituents of UCA will respond to the challenge gift that has been set forth by Rush and Linda Harding.”

To contribute to the Tom Courtway Endowed Scholarship Fund, visit Checks should be payable to the UCA Foundation, Inc. and mailed to UCA Box 4986, Conway, AR 72035.