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State Farm grant supports Ozarks’ Distinguished Speaker Series

June 30, 2011
By cnp
Posted in Student Organizations

Clarksville, Ark. --- University of the Ozarks has received a $5,000 grant from State Farm to support its Distinguished Speaker Series.

State Farm presents a check for $5,000 to support Ozarks' Distinguished Speaker Series." src='data:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg%20xmlns=%22' data-src=

Those attending the check presentation were (from left) Steve Edmisten, executive vice president at U of O; Mike Smith, director of major grants at U of O; Scott Smith, State Farm agent in Clarksville; Gary Stephenson, spokesman and community affairs liaison for State Farm; Dr. Rick Niece, president of U of O; Ron Haught, State Farm agent in Alma; Kursty Boydston, a senior accounting and economics major at U of O; Arvid Bean, State Farm agent from Fort Smith and an alumnus of Ozarks; and Brandy Cox, director of development at U of O.

A focus of the Distinguished Speakers Series is to bring successful business leaders, experts and entrepreneurs to the campus to expose Ozarks students to possibilities, best-practices, and successful real-world experiences in the business world. The speaker series, which was established in 2004, is sponsored by student organizations Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) and Phi Beta Lambda (PBL). In recent years the series has brought executives and officials to campus from Acxiom, Coca Cola, Tyson Foods, Wal-Mart, Proctor & Gamble, Aramark and Alltel

Gary Stephenson, spokesman and community affairs liaison for State Farm, stated that when he saw the series had a business and entrepreneurial emphasis, he became interested in supporting the program.

“Education programs and experiences that enhance business literacy and free-market principals are part of State Farm’s focal areas for charitable grants,” Stephenson said. “At State Farm, we believe in the free-enterprise system and competition, and we believe that supporting this kind of education is important for our communities’, states’ and nation’s future.”

Steve Edmisten, executive vice president at Ozarks, said, “First-hand accounts by today’s business leaders about the opportunities and challenges in business and industry motivates students in a special way. We are deeply appreciative of State Farm’s contribution to inspire our students.”

Pursuit of the grant came from Ozarks alumnus and State Farm agent Arvid Bean of Fort Smith. Bean also serves on the university’s Board of Trustees. The application was completed and submitted by Mike Smith, director of major grants at Ozarks.

State Farm is the largest insurer of homes and automobiles in Arkansas and in the nation. State Farm is represented in Clarksville by agent Scott Smith.