The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts announced the largest single gift in the school's history Tuesday during a ceremony in the school's Administration Building.
The Oaklawn Foundation awarded the school a $300,000 grant dedicated to the construction of the $4.5 million Creativity and Innovation Complex, the first new academic building to be built on campus since the school opened in 1993. The new building is intended to provide classroom and work space for computer science and digital arts courses, as well as an assembly space for the school.
The CIC will be the second new building since the campus opened. The Student Center, which serves as the primary residence for students, opened in August 2012 and includes a cafeteria and library.
ASMSA Director Corey Alderdice said design work on the building will begin in January. He said the school plans to break ground on the project in the middle of next year.
"Moving forward with our campus redevelopment has been one of the biggest conversations we have had since I arrived five years ago," Alderdice said. "It certainly remains one of our biggest challenges as a school, not just to provide students the best quality instruction, but the best possible spaces in which to learn.
"This not only recognizes a significant investment in the Creativity and Innovation Complex project, but a huge investment in the futures of these talented young people who get to spend two years at ASMSA."
Members of the Oaklawn Foundation board said the grant for the CIC project was a good opportunity to support the future education of talented and motivated students in Garland County and throughout the state.
"The board understands the mission and the goals of this school; they agree with it," said Larry Stephens, a member of the Oaklawn Foundation board. "They see that it has not only succeeded (in meeting its goals) but exceeded its goals.
"We felt like the future of this school is now. We felt like we wanted to be a part of the future, and we think what you're doing is the future."
Stephens serves with Dennis Smith and Kermit Tucker on the foundation's long-range planning committee. Smith, who also serves as vice chairman of the Oaklawn Foundation, said the board wanted to put the foundation's funds back into the community.
Smith said board members wanted to support the larger, most important nonprofits in Garland County. ASMSA is one of several nonprofits in the area the foundation approached to receive grant funding.
"The philosophy of the Oaklawn Foundation, in respect to the grants, is to award them to the larger nonprofits for capital improvement projects," Smith said.
Garvan Woodland Gardens, the Garland County Historical Society and Mid-America Science Museum have received previous grants from the foundation. Smith said the foundation will continue discussions with National Park College and the other nonprofits for potential grant funding. Tucker said ASMSA's dedication to the growth of its education efforts strategically matches the Oaklawn Foundation's long-term investment in education.
"ASMSA's community of learning is humbled to receive this exceedingly generous gift from the Oaklawn Foundation," Alderdice said. "The foundation's work has been transformational in the lives of many Garland County citizens. Their support sets the stage not only for the continued evolution of ASMSA's campus but also is another step in the revitalization of downtown Hot Springs."
ASMSA joined the University of Arkansas System in 2004. Donald Bobbitt, president of the UA System, attended Tuesday's announcement. He said the support for the CIC building is an indication of ASMSA's growth and success in its mission.
"I think the school's reputation is what's driving the interest across the state," Bobbitt said. "When people are contemplating what to do with their educational career and they see the success ASMSA graduates have had, how well-rounded they are, whether they continue their studies in the state of Arkansas or go out of state, I think that sends a very powerful message. This is a serious place with serious intellectual and cultural pursuits."
Bobbitt applauded the efforts of Alderdice and the school's management team "to do some very significant things for the future of ASMSA" and creatively using funds available while not putting the school in any form of financial distress in the future.
"ASMSA is a critical part of the University of Arkansas System and part of our educational mission to serve the state," Bobbitt said. "This school has been growing, both in terms of quality of the programs they offer and also the number of programs they offer.
"This building will allow them to offer some of these new programs, particularly in the arts, in state-of-the-art facilities. The real beneficiaries will be the young people who study here at ASMSA."
Alderdice said he has spent much time with Bobbitt attempting to find the financial means to move forward with the project. He commended the work of Vicki Hinz, director of institutional advancement, and the school's Board of Visitors.
"This is something we all accomplished together," Alderdice said. "There is still a fair amount of work ahead and we are thrilled to have had board approval for the selection of design professionals."
The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees recently selected Harris Architects of Hot Springs to serve as the design professional for the building. The school plans to open the CIC by the start of the spring 2019 semester.
The Oaklawn Foundation grant is the latest of several gifts and grants to support the construction of the CIC. The Dan Fredinburg Foundation made a $50,000 gift in the name of Dan Fredinburg, a 1999 ASMSA alumnus. Fredinburg was the head of privacy for Google X, the research and development facility for Google, at the time of his death in April 2015.
The Fredinburg Foundation gift was announced at the Community of Learning Luncheon in April. More than $100,000 has been raised toward the complex through a series of gifts from Fredinburg's friends and family, as well as friends of the school.
ASMSA previously received a $500,000 General Improvement Fund grant from Gov. Asa Hutchinson in 2015. The majority of the funds will be used for architect and engineering fees for the formal plans and renderings of the CIC. The remaining funds will be used for construction.Local on 12/08/2016
Print Headline: Oaklawn Foundation grants gift to ASMSA