Lyon College announces $1 million gift

Lyon College has announced that it has received a $1 million gift from the John W. Edwards trust, which was made public this month.

According to Vice President for Advancement David Hutchison, the Edwards name is one that is well-known throughout the history of both Lyon College and the Batesville area. John W. Edwards, a former Batesville banker, made the lead gift to construct a new dining hall addition for the college in 1983. At the time, that represented the largest gift ever made to Lyon College by a Batesville resident. Now, that record is broken by Edwards’s trust.

The trust, left by John W. Edwards to his brother, James Edwards, was joined by two other trusts that James set up to provide for his son, John Preston Edwards. The provisions of the trusts stated that, upon the passing of Mr. John Preston Edwards, the John Edwards’s original $1 million trust would be gifted without restrictions to Lyon College for greatest needs at the college.

“Lyon College has been fortunate to benefit from the vision and leadership of thoughtful trustees throughout its history,” said Lyon President Joey King. “Clearly John W. Edwards cared deeply for this college and this community. His philanthropy and stewardship are exemplary. The students, faculty, and staff are grateful for his legacy.”

The trust also stipulates that after John Preston Edwards’s passing, funds from the trust will be used to establish the James R. Edwards Scholarship Fund, with the First Presbyterian Church of Batesville serving as the administrator.

This new scholarship fund will aim to support young people seeking full-time college education, with a preference given for students who choose to attend Lyon College, and a priority given to students who share a connection to the Presbyterian faith or Arkansas heritage.

“We are so honored that James Edwards has given First Presbyterian the unique ability to provide young men and women with opportunity and access to a higher education,” said Rev. Leslie Roper, pastor of First Presbyterian.  

An active, dedicated member of college’s governing board for many years, Mr. John W. Edwards served as a trustee through the 1960s, a period of great growth and expansion for then Arkansas College. Through these estate gifts, the Edwards family has continued its legacy of supporting both Lyon, as well as the Presbyterian tradition and education in North Central Arkansas for generations of students to come.