Lilly Endowment Invests $1M in Philander Smith College to Strengthen Ministries in Black and Small Churches

Philander Smith College is excited to be the recipient of funds totaling $1,049,130 to help establish the Strengthening Ministries in Black and Small Churches in Central Arkansas program. It is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving in Ministry, an initiative that supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they create or strengthen programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry. 

Earlier in the year the College received a $50,000 award from Lilly Endowment to support the development of the Thriving In Ministry grant submission. That planning grant, combined with the full grant award of $999,130, represents a total $1,049,130 investment in PSC’s effort to strengthen the pastors serving small churches in Arkansas and nearby states.

Thriving in Ministry seeks to help pastors develop meaningful relationships with wise colleagues who can help guide them through key leadership challenges, especially during transitions in their ministerial careers. The initiative builds upon recent studies that have examined the importance of colleagues and mentors who help pastors face and overcome common professional challenges. These studies include research from the Endowment-funded Flourishing in Ministry project. 

“Philander Smith College has a legacy of developing clergy who have become leaders and mentors to generations of ministers and pastors,” said PSC President Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr.  “Our alumni have broken barriers, published extensively in the field of religious studies, and blazed spiritual trails for a new cohort of preachers and scholars. Funding from Lilly Endowment will help us to continue building upon this sacred foundation,” he continued.

“Leading a congregation today is multi-faceted and exceptionally demanding,” said Christopher Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for Religion. “When pastors have opportunities to build meaningful relationships with experienced colleagues, they are able to negotiate the challenges of ministry and their leadership thrives. Promising efforts in this initiative including the Philander Smith College program, will help pastors develop these kinds of relationships, especially when they are in the midst of significant professional transitions.” 

The grant period at Philander Smith College will run from December 2020 through December 2025.

Windgate Foundation Awards $859,000 Visual and Performing Arts Grant to Philander Smith College

Philander Smith College is pleased to announce that the Windgate Foundation of Little Rock, Arkansas, will fund a new Visual and Performing Arts Program and Visual Arts Scholarships with a $859,000 grant to be paid over the next three years, starting June 1, 2021.

“Because the arts help sustain the human spirit and are an essential cultural touchstone, we are deeply appreciative of this gift from the Windgate Foundation that will support our desire to nurture the creativity of our students. In turn, we believe that the College will be greater positioned to enrich the artistic community of our city, our state, and beyond,” said PSC President Roderick L. Smothers, Sr., Ph.D.

In response, Windgate Foundation Executive Director Patricia Forgy remarked that, “Windgate Foundation is pleased to partner with Philander Smith College as they expand their degree offerings for students to include visual art. This is a great step forward for the College and will benefit the entire community with future outreach and collaboration opportunities.”  Providing institutional support for visual arts and scholarships in higher education is one of the core areas of focus for the foundation which has funded multiple grants at Philander Smith College.

The Visual and Performing Arts Program will offer courses in applied digital media and graphic design, various studio arts, animation and photography classes, among others. Scholarship support will be available to those seeking to enroll in the program. Students who complete the program will be eligible for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in the Visual and Performing Arts. 

“Generous gifts from partners like the Windgate Foundation greatly help Philander Smith College continue to meet the needs and interests of our scholars. Providing training and instilling an appreciation for the role of the arts anchors a well-rounded educational experience,” said Charles King, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Philander Smith College.

“We look forward to working with community partners to develop an academic program and a consortium of Black artists with whom we can partner to help our students achieve a level of success in their artistic pursuits that will be unparalleled in the south and second to none among Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America,” said Shannon M. Clowney Johnson, Assistant Professor and Director of the PSC McKinley Newton Honors Academy. 

The mission of Philander Smith College is to graduate academically accomplished students, grounded as advocates for social justice, determined to change the world for the better. 

Ouachita enters partnership with Leeds United College

Ouachita Baptist University has begun a working partnership with Leeds United College and Longford International College to explore collaborative educational opportunities ranging from guest speakers to internships to full degree programs. LUC and LIC are included in the educational division of Leeds United Football Club, which is based in Leeds, England.

“Ouachita has a long history of international engagement, including our first partnership with an overseas university in the 1970s,” said Dr. Stan Poole, Ouachita’s vice president for academic affairs. “We’re especially eager to explore how this partnership can provide access to exceptional high-impact learning experiences that deepen our students’ classroom knowledge and understanding.

The institutions anticipate a collaborative working partnership drawing on the strengths of each establishment for the benefit of students. Access to facilities and educational content are among the resources each institution brings to the relationship as future programs are considered. Leeds partnership

Ouachita’s working partnership with Leeds United College (LUC) and Longford International College (LIC), which are included in the educational division of Leeds United Football Club, will explore collaborative educational opportunities ranging from guest speakers to internships to full degree programs.

“We’re really pleased to launch this new and exciting partnership,” said Spencer Taylor, director of education at Leeds United. “It will be great to see the relationship progress over time, with all parties working together to create opportunities for young students to study and learn whilst also developing important research and initiatives.”

“We believe in the power of [soccer] and education together and how it can break down cultural barriers, bring people together and make a positive difference to the lives of many,” added Professor Vincent English, president of Longford International College. “Longford College is also delighted to be part of an innovative approach to education where the rigor of academia is balanced against the practical approach.”

LIC and LUC currently offer accredited diplomas and master’s degrees in such fields as business leadership, football business and sports performance.

“We also look forward to collaborating with our partners to consider unique graduate-level programs that take advantage of the strengths of our diverse institutions,” Poole added.

“We are encouraged by the opportunity to partner in new, creative ways as we seek to expand the reach of our mission globally through unique partnerships and programs,” added Dr. Monica Hardin, associate vice president for graduate and professional studies. “As higher education continues to evolve in a globalized world, international partnerships are vital and we look towards a bright future with LUC and LIC.”

Lyon students guaranteed admission interviews with Arkansas Colleges of Health Education

President Dr. W. Joseph King signed an agreement with the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE) in Fort Smith, guaranteeing that Lyon College students, who meet eligibility requirements, will be granted an admissions interview to any of ACHE’s programs.

“This agreement is a fantastic opportunity for our students who are interested in health sciences,” said King. “Preparing students to excel after graduation is an important part of the College’s mission, and this agreement contributes to those efforts.”

These programs include the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM), the School of Physical Therapy (ACHE PT), the School of Occupational Therapy (ACHE OT) and the Master of Science in Biomedicine (MSB) program.

Lyon Provost Melissa Taverner said ACHE approached Lyon to establish this collaborative agreement because of the exceptionally strong preparation for healthcare careers that Lyon students receive. 

“Our admission statistics for post-graduate healthcare professional programs regularly exceed national averages and is a testament to the rigor of our programs,” Taverner said. 

She continued, “Our graduates go on to serve their communities as doctors, dentists, therapists, pharmacists, and in many other professional fields. That success is rooted in the Lyon experience.”

To be guaranteed an admissions interview, Lyon students must meet the following requirements:

  • Be either a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
  • Complete all prerequisite coursework prior to matriculation into their respective program.
  • Achieve the following minimum grade point averages (GPA):
    • ARCOM- 3.5 overall GPA, of which the overall science GPA must be at least 3.4.
    • MSB- 3.2 overall GPA, of which the overall science GPA must be at least 3.0.
    • ACHE PT- 3.5 overall GPA.
    • ACHE OT- 3.5 overall GPA.
  • Sit for a healthcare professional entrance examination and receive the following minimum scores:
    • ARCOM- Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) score of 500
    • MSB- MCAT score of 490; Dental Admission Test (DAT) score of 18; or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score of 301
    • ACHE PT- as determined by the ACHE PT Admissions Committee
    • ACHE OT- as determined by the ACHE OT Admissions Committee

ACHE’s guarantee of an interview does not guarantee admission into any ACHE program.

“We are excited to become partners with Lyon College,” stated Brian Kim, President of ACHE.  “We have a goal to educate and retain our Arkansas students in our medical education programs.  Lyon College students have a reputation of being students of excellence and we look forward to welcoming them to our campus.”

Lilly Endowment Grant to Help University Assist Rural Presbyterian Pastors

University of the Ozarks will receive a nearly $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to establish a program that will support pastors of rural and minority-serving Presbyterian Churches throughout Arkansas.

The grant is part of Lilly Endowment’s Thriving in Ministry, an initiative that supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they create or strengthen programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry. 

The $997,322 grant will help the University establish the Arkansas Presbytery Thriving in Ministry Consortium program on campus. The program’s purpose is to “help pastors thrive in congregational leadership and thus enhance the vitality of the congregation they serve.” 

The program will be launched during the summer of 2021 and will be designed to assist and support rural pastors in areas such as launching new churches, serving communities of color, and serving small membership churches. The funding includes a new program director position who will serve as the “pastor to the pastors.”

University President Richard Dunsworth said the Thriving in Ministry program is a natural fit for the University, which has been affiliated with the Presbyterian Church since its establishment in 1834 in Cane Hill, Arkansas.

“Today, University of the Ozarks is in a position of responsibility and obligation of Christian service to step into this place of need within the Presbytery and provide a leadership role back to the Presbytery that will build bridges and foster pastoral development,” Dunsworth said. “This program is designed to support leadership and change-management programs to enable pastors to learn how to develop their own personal leadership and networking skills.”

Dunsworth said the new program stems from a planning grant that Lilly Endowment made to University of the Ozarks earlier this year through Lilly Endowment’s Thriving in Ministry initiative. Thriving in Ministry is part of Lilly Endowment’s grantmaking to strengthen pastoral leadership in Christian congregations in the United States.

The planning grant led to a series of focus groups conducted by the University this past summer with pastors from around the state.

“Pastors serving rural congregations and minority communities describe an almost unfathomable set of demands on their time, intellect and faith,” Dunsworth said. “The amazingly talented and committed women and men who occupy the pulpits of our rural and minority-serving churches are under-resourced, tired and in need of personal and professional support. With a Thriving in Ministry grant, together, we will create a supportive foundation and network to renew the faith of pastors, and ultimately strengthen the congregations that University of the Ozarks owes so much.”

Dunsworth said University’s long relationship with the Presbyterian Church and programs such as the University’s Struthers Pastoral Study Leave Program places the University in a strong position to provide a leadership role in this initiative.

The Struthers Pastoral Study Leave was established at U of O in 2005 by the late Rev. Dr. James R. Struthers of Stillwater, Okla., a long-time member of the University’s Board of Trustees. The program has brought more than 30 Presbyterian pastors to the U of O campus for personal and professional development in the past 15 years.

“We believe we are uniquely positioned to establish a Thriving in Ministry program and support these pastors,” Dunsworth said. “We have the experience and the confidence of pastors to create space for them to explore their gifts, develop new meaningful relationships and learn to manage competing demands on their increasingly scare time.”

Dunsworth said the University will begin the search for a program director in January.

Lilly Endowment is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion. The Endowment maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and its home state, Indiana. Its grantmaking in religion focuses on supporting efforts to strengthen the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations throughout the country and to increase the public’s understanding of the role of religion in public life.

Sen. Boozman Meets With Williams Baptist University Trustees

The Board of Trustees at Williams Baptist University welcomed U.S. Senator John Boozman to their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, Dec. 4.  The Arkansas senator joined the trustees for lunch and heard an update on recent developments at WBU in general and on the Williams Works program in particular. The Senator also shared news from Washington with those gathered.

“We were honored to have Sen. Boozman back on the Williams campus and to hear firsthand about important issues facing our nation and our region,” said Dr. Stan Norman, president of WBU.  “We were also grateful to have the opportunity to share with him the exciting things happening at WBU, especially about the new initiatives we recently launched as part of our Williams Works initiative.” 

WBU launched the Williams Works initiative this fall.  Students selected for the program work 16 hours per work throughout the fall and spring semesters, and in exchange their tuition and fees are covered.  Students who work full-time through the summer can also have their room & board expenses paid, giving them the chance to graduate debt-free.

“It is great to be on a campus when you can talk all about the important things that need to be discussed, but also a campus where you can share your faith and that is really at the center of everything and thanks for the great job everyone here is doing,” Boozman said. “I’ve enjoyed hearing about the Williams Works program and I think it is a great thing for students and we look forward to seeing it grow in the future.”

About half of the board attended the socially-distanced meeting in person, while other board members took part virtually.

Norman briefed the board on WBU’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, noting that the university has been able to maintain in-person instruction throughout the fall semester and plans to continue doing so in the spring semester.

“The pandemic has presented multiple challenges to our campus, and it has impacted a number of families that are dear to us.  We have taken this very seriously,” the president said. “WBU has taken a proactive approach toward contact tracing, quarantines and isolation for those who test positive, and that approach has enabled us to keep the campus open.”

Norman noted that WBU has had options for students to attend classes virtually, enabling them to keep up with their coursework if placed in quarantine or isolation due to covid-19.

“This has been a challenging year, to say the least, but in the midst of it, we have been blessed.  I am so thankful for this campus community in pulling together and meeting these challenges directly,” Norman added.

New Board of Trustee Members (L to R): Trey Stafford, Ben Rainwater and Clint Emfinger

The board also welcomed several new trustees at the meeting.  Trey Stafford of Jonesboro and Dr. Ben Rainwater of Little Rock are starting their first terms as WBU trustees, while Dr. Heather Moore of Cabot and Clint Emfinger of Searcy are returning to the board after serving previously.

The Williams Board of Trustees is composed of 24 members.  They are selected by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, which owns and operates the university.

WBU is a private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge.

Hendrix College Receives Largest Outright Gift in College History

Hendrix College has received a $15 million gift from the Windgate Foundation, the largest outright gift in Hendrix’s history.

“We are grateful for the support of the Windgate Foundation,” said Hendrix President W. Ellis Arnold III. “More than ever, it is critical that we continue moving forward, to meet today’s challenges and to continue to be a leader in higher education in the future.”

[This $15 million gift from the Windgate Foundation surpassed the previous largest non-estate gift of $11 million, making it the second largest gift overall. The $26 million gift from the estate of Mary Ann Dawkins in 2015 remains the largest gift of any nature in the College’s history.]

This year, the College surpassed its $110 million campaign goal a year ahead of schedule with $114 million in gifts and pledges. The campaign, which was scheduled to end in 2021, will be expanded to $150 million and will extend to 2023. The campaign now stands at $129 million.

“During this campaign, thanks to the support of alumni and friends of the College, we have strengthened the academic and student life experience with new programs and initiatives,” said Arnold. “We have added new facilities that celebrate the residential experience and support student recruitment, and we have continued to make Hendrix more affordable and accessible for students and families.”

This spring, as part of the campaign expansion, Hendrix will launch a multimillion-dollar Residence Hall Renewal Project, beginning with renovations of Veasey Hall. Fundraising efforts for the project will also support renovations of historic Martin Hall.

In addition, the expanded campaign will seek additional funds for the College’s endowment. $10 million of the Windgate gift will provide endowed scholarships for Hendrix students.

“These priorities – the Residence Hall Renewal Project and increasing the College’s endowment – will support student recruitment and retention,” said Arnold. “They will keep Hendrix accessible and affordable to students and families, and they will ensure that Hendrix remains one of the country’s leading liberal arts colleges for academic quality, innovation, and value.”

The expanded Hendrix campaign will be called A Time to Lead: The Campaign for Today and Tomorrow.

“The time for Hendrix to lead is now. We know that many students and families are concerned by the cost of higher education today,” said Arnold. “That is why we recently announced a tuition reset and lowered our tuition by 32% for new students.”

“We also know that our current students’ residential experience at Hendrix was disrupted by COVID-19,” he said. “That is why – in addition to our tuition reset for new students – we developed a tuition-free fifth year program for current students to provide the opportunity to have a complete residential student experience at Hendrix.”

Arnold added that these recent offerings are just two examples of how Hendrix is leading today. “We must continue to lead in quality, innovation, and value,” he said. “The Residence Hall Renewal Project will reinforce the vital role of the residential campus experience at Hendrix and growing our endowment will strengthen the College’s financial position to support students today and tomorrow.”

Lyon senior designs bicentennial coin for Independence County

A Lyon senior’s design has been selected for Independence County’s bicentennial coin.

Samantha Long holds the coin she designed

The coin commemorates the 200th anniversary of the county’s founding, which was established in 1820. Batesville was established in 1821, and it is the oldest existing city in Arkansas.

Samantha Long, a fine arts major from Cave City, created the coin’s design based on her own interpretation of what Independence County Judge Robert Griffin had requested. 

The front features a Native American based on the Cherokee tribe as a nod to Arkansas history and a steamboat as an homage to Independence County’s beginnings as a trade area. The back of the coin features a glimpse into modern-day Independence County, showing local farmers and businesses coming together while Independence County grows in the background.

“I felt that it was very important to incorporate farmers into the design because our community has so much to thank them for,” Long said.

She continued, “My brother gave me the idea to have them shaking hands, as a way to show the two coming together to help build our community.”

Professor of Art Dustyn Bork had approached Long about submitting a design. He told her it would be a great way to gain experience for her fine arts major.

“This is an excellent example of a Lyon student seeing their design come to fruition in a tangible way,” Bork said. “What an awesome opportunity for Sam and to celebrate our community.”

“It’s honestly an honor to be selected for something so important!” Long said. “I couldn’t believe it at first, and I did feel a bit anxious during the process.”

She concluded, “But by the end of it, I was very proud to have had the opportunity to leave my small mark on Independence County.”

Hendrix Students Explore Research Careers and Career Paths through EPROACH

The pandemic may have changed how we interact with each other, but it did not stop Hendrix students from engaging in meaningful professional activities this past summer. During the break, 12 undergraduate science majors participated in a special Odyssey project titled Experiences in Professional Research Organizations and Atmospheric Chemistry at Hendrix (EPROACH). 

In 2014, Professor and Chair of Chemistry Dr. Courtney D. Hatch ’00 developed the EPROACH program with the support of the Morris and Ann Henry Odyssey Professorship. Now supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, EPROACH provides Hendrix science students the opportunity to gain engaged learning credit through the Hendrix Odyssey Program while exploring their interests in pursuing research careers in the sciences, with a focus on atmospheric chemistry. 

EPROACH participants this past summer included Eric Horan ’21, Adam De Groodt ’21, Catherine Mariza ’23, Kameron Molloy ’21, Kyle Bounds ’23, Tyler Odell ’21, Grace Bryant ’22, Jennifer Wu ’23, Miles Johnson ’21, Madelyn Klinkerman ’21, Linh Phung ’23, and Julia Dick ’23. Hatch served as their faculty mentor while guiding them through a variety of professional development and networking activities, including:

  • designing personal learning goals to guide reflection of program activities
  • attending the virtual American Chemical Society Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference
  • attending virtual research seminars with leading scientists in the academic, government, industry, and non-profit sectors
  • networking with graduate students and research professionals
  • exploring STEM research careers
  • reflecting on vocational purpose and professional aspirations.

“This year has thrown a wrench in many students’ opportunities to participate in undergraduate research, so what better time to learn about new fields of research and reflect on vocational interests and aspirations?” Hatch says. While the program was initially designed as an intensive two-week experience in Colorado, the pandemic required the program to pivot to a virtual platform.

Despite the remote nature of EPROACH for the summer of 2020, it remained successful as it continued to “spark the curiosity of student interests, encourage self-reflection and understanding, provide mentorship for aspiring scientists, and support ‘engagement that links the classroom to the world’ (Hendrix College Statement of Purpose).”

“While some students find the EPROACH experience helps solidify their career aspirations, others find new scientific interests they haven’t had the opportunity to explore,” says Hatch. Linh Phung, who is pursuing a B.A. in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology (BCMB) agrees: “My experience in this program has significantly aided in the transformation of my career aspirations,” Phung said.

Julia Dick, a computer science major, also found inclusion “amongst a sub-community of Chemistry and BCMB majors.”

“It was surprisingly easy for me to find a career path into a major research lab where someone from my discipline could potentially fit,” she said. “Making these realizations was the most exciting part of each meeting.”

“Every year, but particularly during the pandemic, the level of personal growth and professional awareness that the students achieve by participating in EPROACH is amazing to watch in real-time,” Hatch says. As Madelyn Klinkerman, a senior Murphy Scholar double majoring in chemistry and Spanish, prepares for her own post-Hendrix career, she confides that she will “definitely rely on what I’ve learned from my time with EPROACH.”