UALR Gives Back
photography courtesy of Gulley and New
“It would be easy to forget that having benefited from the generosity of others obligated me to give back,” Thomas C. McMillan said. He is a professor and chairman in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR). McMillan, whose grandfather was an Arkansan, joined Little Rock’s premier metropolitan university in 1999, and soon after Dean J.W. Wiggins asked him to serve on the Campus Campaign Steering Committee.
“I very soon realized that UALR is a special place, and my service on the committee allowed me to contribute more than [just] financially,” said McMillan, who, along with his wife Linda, created the Linda and Tom McMillan Mathematics Award, which is awarded to a full- or part-time student majoring in math. Preference for the award is given to students who demonstrate academic merit and financial need.
UALR’s tree-lined campus has 40 buildings on 150 acres and serves many types of students. About half are balancing families, careers and school.
Christopher New, 43, a husband and father, was a McMillan Scholar during the 2009-2010 academic year and called the experience “humbling.” New, a 1987 graduate of North Pulaski High School in Jacksonville, earned a two-year degree at Northwest Community College and worked as an aircraft mechanic, but he was “searching for something more satisfying.” After being laid off, like hundreds of others, from airplane manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft, he enrolled full-time at UALR and excelled at classes like Introduction to Proof and Topology.
“UALR is a great place to study math,” said New, who describes winning the McMillan Scholarship as “a big inspiration.” He expects to graduate next year. New gives back by tutoring students at the UALR Mathematics Assistance Center on the sixth floor of Dickinson Hall and is considering graduate studies in mathematics.
McMillan said he was proud New was awarded a McMillan Scholarship. “[Christopher New is] a good student. I know that scholarships provide students with that most valuable commodity — time.”
The UALR Campus Campaign also helps students like Kimberly Gulley, a senior from Magnolia. The health sciences major said she enjoyed serving as a caller during last year’s phonathon and intends to dial up former students again.
“We talk to alumni about how they can help fund scholarships and study abroad programs,” said Gulley, whose sister Porchia is a recent UALR graduate. Gulley can speak from first-hand knowledge about how The Fund has affected her life. The Fund for UALR is the vehicle that’s used for unrestricted money for the area of greatest need. The Fund supports the Academic Success Center which purchases textbooks to help assist students. Gulley benefited from this program.
Belief in and support for the school’s mission by the UALR faculty and staff helped prime the pump for community and corporate giving. “From the physical plant to the chancellor’s office, we have a faculty and staff giving rate of 47 percent,” McMillan said. “We support the mission ourselves in terms of giving. Not too many [organizations] can say that.”
“Generous giving by our campus community set the stage for our comprehensive campaign,” said Bob Denman, vice chancellor for development. UALR brought its first comprehensive fundraising campaign to a close this April with a final tally of $103.6 million in gifts and pledges. Three percent of that total came from faculty and staff.
“Our success is due in part to their early campaign participation and leadership,” said Denman.
McMillan, like many of his colleagues at UALR, is investing in future generations and already counting the blessings of their generosity.