FORT SMITH, Ark. — The University of Arkansas - Fort Smith (UAFS) has been awarded $18,774,387 from the Windgate Foundation. UAFS says this is the largest single gift in its 94-year history
The university says this donation will "radically empower" the university’s acclaimed nursing and visual arts programs.
“We able will be able to easily double the number of nurses that we prepare, educate and have hired in our community which is incredibly important for our hospitals, clinics, and community," said Teresa Riley.
According to UAFS, the gift addresses critical needs in the Arkansas River Valley, creating a pathway to dramatically increase nursing graduates and cultivating an immersive arts experience for students and the public through the expansion of the Windgate Art and Design building and its offerings.
“The Windgate Foundation cares so deeply about Fort Smith,” said Blake Rickman, Executive Director of the UAFS Foundation and vice chancellor for University Advancement. “This is their hometown, and they understand the unique relationship this institution has with our city. We aren’t just a university in Fort Smith; we are Fort Smith’s university, and we couldn’t be more thankful for their support.”
“This foundation has walked hand-in-hand with us for so many years,” said UAFS Chancellor Terisa Riley. “And I take a lot of pride in their trust in us. It’s an honor, and I am so impressed by how they have used their philanthropy to ensure that we are empowered to adapt to our community’s changing needs.”
“In some ways, I think they can dream bigger than even we do,” Riley said. “And to dream big dreams to improve our community together is so special.”
Prior to this gift, the Windgate Foundation has awarded UAFS more than $25 Million in support of the Windgate Art and Design building and endowment, visual arts and design programming, and a comprehensive scholarship endowment for high-need students.
Rickman says over the past three years, UAFS and the Windgate Foundation pivoted from discussing a single gift to improve fine art facilities at the university to design the multi-tiered plan to holistically advance the health and wellness of the River Valley unveiled today.
“This gift empowers the university to tend to the human needs of every member of our community,” said Katie Waugh, Head of Art and Design at UAFS. “Cultivating overall wellness is crucial for nurturing a functioning society and arts environment.”
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