Clarksville, Ark. --- Friday, Oct. 7, was a day of celebration on the University of the Ozarks campus.
More than 400 donors, friends, alumni, students, faculty and staff took part in a celebration ceremony in the Rogers Conference Center to mark the successful completion of the $40 million Promise of Excellence Campaign. During the ceremony several new campus facilities were also dedicated, including the Borck Dining area, the Rogers Conference Center, the Mabee Fitness Center and Trustee Residence Hall.
The celebration event featured cheerleaders, mascots and the University Chorus. The ceremony also showcased the state-of-the-art audio and video capabilities of the new 7,000-square-foot Rogers Conference Center. The event concluded with a carnival-style picnic on the campus mall.
"What a grand day for a grand celebration on a grand campus," said Ozarks President Dr. Rick Niece. "This is our day to honor Ozarks and her current and future students. This is our day to celebrate some amazing achievements. This is our day. Let’s revel in it. Let’s savor it. Let’s enjoy it. We have earned the right, and our students deserve the privilege."
The five-year, $40 million Promise of Excellence Campaign ended on March 31 with nearly $40.6 million raised to enhance the University’s ability to provide high quality educational services to students. A total of 4,080 donors contributed to the Campaign.
"This is a day for the university community to say Thank You," said Steve Edmisten, executive vice president. "Think about it: A school of 630 students launching a five-year, $40 million campaign in 2006, a time-frame that would include the Great Recession. Not only did many schools like Ozarks not hit their campaign goals over this period, some failed and collapsed completely due to the economic stressors. But not Ozarks. We, the University, and our supporters, seem to be made of stern stuff. The supporters of this University have transformed the lives of young men and women for the better."
Among the components of the campaign was a 14,000-square-foot expansion of the Seay Student Center, which was completed in August of 2011. The expansion includes the Rogers Conference Center, which can seat up to 700 people and will allow the University to host local, state and regional meetings and conferences. Within the Rogers Center there are the Taylor, Bruning, Bean and Hanna rooms.
The bottom level of the Seay Student Center expansion includes the new Mabee Fitness Center that features the Rawhouser Weight & Fitness Room and the Boreham Aerobics Room. The University also dedicated Trustee Hall, an apartment-style residence hall that houses 20 students.
The Promise of Excellence Campaign was launched on Valentine’s Day in 2006 with the announcement in Munger Chapel that Helen Robson Walton had kicked off the fund-raising effort with a lead gift of $20 million. Mrs. Walton, a long-time supporter of Ozarks, died in 2007.
"I am honored to acknowledge again the late Mrs. Helen Walton and her breath-taking lead gift of $20 million, which launched the Promise of Excellence Campaign," Niece said. "Her unwavering faith in Ozarks and the education of our students touches us today, and it will continue to touch this campus for generations to come. Knowing Helen Walton is one of the blessings of my life, and I miss her and her visits to campus."
The Promise of Excellence Campaign is part of a massive fund-raising initiative by Ozarks that began in 1998 with the $60 million Pride & Promise Campaign. Since that time, more than $130 million has been given by 6,386 donors to improve Ozarks and support its students.