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UCA Foundation Celebrates 40 Years at 2021 Scholarship Reception

Students and donors sit at tables

Students and donors at the Scholarship Reception


More than 300 scholarship recipients gathered at the Farris Center for the annual scholarship reception at the University of Central Arkansas Sept. 30 hosted by the UCA Foundation. 

The theme for the evening “Celebrating 40 Years” commemorated the Foundation’s successes since its 1981 inception under former UCA President Jeff Farris. The event provided an opportunity for students to connect with scholarship donors and share stories. 

Farris’ daughter Elizabeth began the program by thanking donors for their dedication to the success of the university and its students. Elizabeth has served on the board of directors for the UCA Foundation and the UCA Alumni Association. She has also served on the UCA Board of Trustees.

“My father understood that fundraising was important to the future of this university,” Farris said. “As an alumna and scholarship donor, I can tell you that the support given for students is not about the donor. It’s about passing on the UCA experience to others so that they too can know the lifelong benefits of quality education and the deep relationships developed with classmates and the UCA family.” 

UCA is in the midst of its largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in university history, UCA NOW: Impact Arkansas and Beyond.  During the public announcement in April 2021, the university had $72.5 million toward its $100 million goal. By Sept. 30, the campaign was at $80.4 million. 

“It is because of the dedication and engagement of alumni and donors like you that we are able to step forward in confidence to meet the needs of our university and students,” said UCA President Houston Davis.

Davis told donors their gifts provide an enormous impact on students like Savannah Conly, who is a junior marketing major in the College of Business. Conly received the Granger and Jan Davis Emerging Leaders Scholarship. 

“When I received this scholarship, It meant the world to me because I felt seen,” Conly said. “I felt like all my behind-the-scenes work was seen. Receiving this recognition fueled my motivation to keep working hard and to push myself toward my dreams, even on hard days.” 

Mary Bane Lackie, vice president for University Advancement and president of the UCA Foundation enjoys witnessing firsthand the impact scholarships have on students. In the past 40 years, the UCA Foundation has awarded more than $16.1 million in privately funded scholarships.

“We can’t begin to put into words the importance of these legacy gifts on the future of this great university and its growing leadership role across the state and region,” Lackie said. “Transforming this university and our culture of giving is about participation and working together for a common goal.”