University of Arkansas – Fort Smith alumnus Chester Koprovic, chairman of the board at Boyd Metals, received the UAFS Alumni Association’s Diligence to Victory award at the Homecoming reunion dinner held Oct. 23 at The Blue Lion at UAFS Downtown.
In the nomination letter, Koprovic was hailed for having a “true rags to riches story.” An army veteran and a native of Paris, Arkansas, Koprovic faced adversity often throughout his life. He was the first generation of his family to be born in the Unites States and the only child of six to survive.
Koprovic began his career as a metalworker before working his way to his current position at Boyd Metals. Along the way, he earned an associate degree in art and participated in several entrepreneurial ventures.
After graduating from high school, he served three years in the Army before coming to Fort Smith. He began working nights at Norge to allow him to attend classes at Westark Community College during the day. After graduating in 1975, Koprovic bought Norman Welding before purchasing Butler and Cook and starting Kopco Steel Fabrication.
When his wife passed away in 2007, Koprovic established the Beth Koprovic Professorship in Nursing to honor her memory and support nursing education in the Fort Smith community. Additionally, he created the Koprovic Family Professorship in- Engineering. Both of these professorships will be funded with a gift through Koprovic’s estate plan to benefit the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith.
Koprovic was appointed to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission by Governor Huckabee, where he has served for the last 14 years. Koprovic also serves on the UAFS Foundation Board and is a past member of the inaugural class of the UAFS Alumni Advisory Council.
“Chester is a very deserving individual who has not forgotten his roots,” Alumni Director Rick Goins said.
Koprovic said the award was “unexpected and very humbling.”
The Alumni Reunion Dinner was part of the university’s Homecoming activities held Oct. 19-24.