The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas on Thursday announced three gifts totaling $3 million from alumni Ross and Mary Whipple, alumna Peggy Clark, and The Ross Foundation to provide scholarships and construct a new forest education center at Garvan Woodland Gardens.
"What a great day for the state of Arkansas and what a great day for the forests of Arkansas," U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-District 4, said during Thursday's announcement in Garvan Gardens' Anthony Chapel.
"As I thought about the event today, the word that kept coming to my mind was treasure. I mean we're sitting inside a treasure right now on a property that is a treasure," Westerman said.
"We have beautiful woodland gardens in the state of Arkansas, and especially in the district I represent, where it's about 86% forested, so forestry is a big deal, and today we're here to celebrate ... more education in forestry," Westerman said.
A $2 million gift from the Whipples, of Arkadelphia, and their family will be used to construct the proposed Ross and Mary Whipple Family Forest Education Center at the botanical garden, while an additional $250,000 gift from Clark and her family will support the Clark Family Exhibition in Timber and Wood and the Clark Family Endowed Scholarships in Arkansas Timber and Wood Design. A third gift of $750,000 from The Ross Foundation will support programming for a forest and sustainability institute, the University of Arkansas said in a news release.
The gifts will also help support the goals of Campaign Arkansas, the university's capital campaign aimed at increasing academic opportunity at the U of A, the release said.
The Ross and Mary Whipple Family Forest Education Center will house a center for educational excellence that will serve as an environmental education facility and an economic development tool, impacting both south Arkansas and the entire state, it said.
The center is "tentatively projected" to total 5,000 square feet and be constructed predominantly of Arkansas-sourced wood and timber, the release said.
"It will house a permanent Arkansas forest exhibition, as well as offer a variety of changing exhibitions related to the Arkansas forest and the landscapes of the state," and will serve as the summer location for the Fay Jones School's annual week-long Design Camp for students entering grades 9-12 and as the year-round home for an envisioned signature public program aimed at "building lifelong appreciation of Arkansas forests and timber industries," it said.
The donation from Clark, of Hot Springs, will be split into two parts: a $100,000 contribution to establish the Clark Family Exhibition in Arkansas Timber and Wood, and a $150,000 contribution from her family that will create the Clark Family Endowed Scholarships in Arkansas Timber and Wood Design.
"Our family wanted to be a part of what the Whipples are doing at Garvan Woodland Gardens and what the U of A is doing in wood design," Clark said in the release. "Our hope is that this exhibit will showcase the different sides of forestry and its importance to Arkansas, including the environment, the economy and sustainability. It's important for us to add this strong educational piece to the Gardens."
Clark's donation will fund the research, design, installation and maintenance of a permanent exhibition demonstrating the character and attributes of the Arkansas forests, and will focus on their importance to the historical, societal, environmental and economic development of the state, with recognition given to the role of forest communities and the importance of stewardship and sustainable management, according to the release.
The scholarship endowment will provide financial assistance to students enrolled in the Master of Design Studies degree program, specifically those who are pursuing the concentration of Integrated Wood Design in the Fay Jones School, according to the release. Transfer students and nontraditional students are all eligible, and the funds may be used for stipends, scholarships, research or study abroad.
"I really wanted to help where we could, and thought that starting a scholarship fund to effect quality graduate students could be an important part of this," Clark said. "It's our hope that this fund would attract the kind of graduate student we would want to be a part of this."
According to the release, collectively, these gifts continue to enhance and help grow the school's focus on innovations in design through the use of wood and timber, particularly that sourced in Arkansas, which is 57% forested. The school has established a graduate degree program, the Master of Design Studies, which includes a concentration in Integrated Wood Design.
The Whipples' children, alumna Mary Elizabeth Eldridge of Fayetteville, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences alumna Margaret Whipple Doose of Minneapolis, and Emily Whipple Nadeau of Little Rock, joined their parents in making the gift.
"Our family is very happy to work with the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, Dean Peter MacKeith and Garvan Gardens to establish the Ross and Mary Whipple Family Forest Education Center, which will highlight the importance of timberland in Arkansas," Ross Whipple said in the release.
"We are thankful for the leadership and vision of Dean Peter MacKeith, who recognizes the existing and potential impact of our state's forests. We hope that this Forest Education Center will be both an example of architectural design using Arkansas timber and a center that provides opportunities for many educational programs. Garvan Gardens is the perfect environment for this center. After many months of discussion, it is exciting to begin this project!"
The Ross Foundation, located in Arkadelphia, was founded in 1966 by Jane and Esther Ross, and its board of trustees manages timberlands held for conservation and charitable purposes, the release said.
Ross Whipple, speaking on behalf of The Ross Foundation, said, "The trustees of The Ross Foundation are proud to honor one of our founders with the establishment of the Jane Ross Forest Institute for Environmental Stewardship. Jane began managing her family's timberlands in the 1950s and always emphasized the importance of responsible land stewardship. The Ross Foundation is very happy to continue this tradition with this endowment."
Local on 11/08/2019