Also ends capital campaign, receives major gift
CONWAY–The University of Central Arkansas made three transformative announcements at a special event hosted on Thursday, Sept. 7, in the newly-opened Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts Concert Hall.
UCA President Houston Davis made all three announcements with one being the launch of a new initiative that will provide incoming students from Arkansas with a debt-free pathway to a college education. Named UCA Commitment, the program officially launches in fall 2024 and will be available as an opt-in financial tool for incoming Arkansas freshmen from households with incomes of no more than $100,000.
“We are proud to continue finding new ways to eliminate financial barriers and increase our students’ capacity to succeed. UCA recognizes the vital role that education plays in shaping the future of our state and society,” Davis said. “Through higher education, we empower individuals, inspire innovation, and drive economic development, and the UCA Commitment is another investment in our students and in the state of Arkansas.”
The UCA Commitment is made possible through a multi-year reprioritization of budgets, ensuring all students maximize available aid at the state and federal levels, efficient use of available scholarship funds, and available work-study opportunities. More information about this new initiative can be found at UCA Commitment.
Arkansas high school students interested in attending UCA may use the promotional code “COMMIT” to apply for free from Sept. 7–10. Visit UCA Admissions to apply.
The celebration included announcements regarding the university’s stewardship and advancement efforts.
UCA began an eight-year comprehensive capital campaign, UCA Now: Impact Arkansas and Beyond, with the quiet phase starting in fiscal year 2017 and the public phase launching in April 2021. The goal of the campaign was to raise $100 million by June 2024. As part of Thursday’s celebration, UCA announced that the institution was ending the campaign almost one year ahead of the anticipated end date.
“I am thrilled to share with you that, 10 months ahead of schedule, we are closing out UCA Now and celebrating that we not only accomplished our $100 million goal, but we exceeded it!” Davis told the crowd. “The UCA Now campaign raised $109 million!”
Through the contributions of over 18,000 individual donors to UCA Now, the university greatly expanded student scholarships and university support through the UCA Foundation. Since the beginning of the campaign, 139 new scholarships have been established, and the UCA Foundation has awarded over $11 million in scholarships. The UCA Now campaign has also helped to provide much-needed facilities such as the Integrated Health Sciences Building, the Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts, and soon-to-be-opened facilities like the Center for Student Success and Veterans Resources Center, and a new home for the Center for Global Engagement and the Schedler Honors College. Countless other programs and initiatives such as First Gen@UCA, the Bear Essentials Food Pantry and the Interprofessional Teaching Center have been supported throughout this campaign.
“UCA Now has indeed set a new bar for our future,” Davis said. “The successful conclusion of the UCA NOW Campaign really is just the beginning of the next big step for our university. It is fitting that we began UCA NOW with a major gift in the early stages from the Windgate Foundation, and thanks to them, we have now come full circle.”
The third announcement for the event was a $10 million major gift from the Windgate Foundation, making this the second transformational gift to UCA. “This gift was not given with the intention of pushing us over the $100 million goal or ending the campaign early. The new gift is a marker of an emergent university and a challenge and encouragement to take on what is next,” Davis said. “This $10 million gift was made with a focus on the future, not just for UCA, but for the state of Arkansas.”
The Windgate Foundation’s first major gift to UCA was in 2019 with $20 million to help construct the Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts, which was completed earlier this year. This gift remains the largest single gift in UCA’s history.
“The Windgate Foundation’s continued investment in UCA is a strong signal of the strength of our university and the impact we are having in Arkansas and beyond,” said Davis.
The announcements were made before a crowd of approximately 700 faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends and community members, as well as about 850 watching via livestream. Representatives from the UCA Board of Trustees, Foundation Board, Student Government Association, Association of Future Alumni, Faculty Senate and Staff Senate were on hand for the celebration. A small group from the UCA Marching Band helped to begin and end the celebration.
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