The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith announced today that it will receive three new gifts totaling more than $1.7 million from the Windgate Foundation.
Windgate is already known for its generosity on campus because of its earlier gifts, including $15.5 million to build Windgate Art & Design, the university’s state of the art gallery, workspace, classroom and office building on the corner of Waldron Road and Kinkead Avenue.
“Windgate has a long history of supporting visual arts, contemporary craft, and art education programs across the United States,” said Patricia Forgy, executive director of the Windgate Foundation. “Our relationship with the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith began over 10 years ago, and as time passed, we could easily see the passion of the students and dedication of both faculty and administration, earning our respect and trust. We are pleased to continue our support in these areas.”
The new gifts are $54,000 to be used by the Letterpress Program, $700,000 to be added to the Windgate Art and Design Building Endowment, and $1 million to establish the Windgate Art Scholarship Endowment.
“We are humbled by the generosity of this gift and incredibly grateful to the Windgate Foundation for believing in our mission at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith,” said Chancellor Terisa Riley. “This investment will make it possible for our faculty members and students to achieve their goals and add to the creative scholarship and arts of our campus and region.”
The gift for the Letterpress program is a continuation of an existing grant. It will provide funds for equipment and supplies, student-employee salaries, student scholarships, and visiting artists.
The Windgate Art and Design Building Endowment was created to promote the visibility of the art programs at UAFS and foster collaboration with other art venues. The additional $700,000 will allow UAFS to expand programming related to arts and graphic arts with visiting artists and exhibits; update equipment and supplies; and recruit top-tier student artists.
The $1 million gift for the Windgate Art Scholarship Endowment will fundamentally change the university as it will generate approximately $40,000 per year for scholarships for generations of artists to come.
“The scholarships that will be generated by the new endowment will help our students to reach their dreams of obtaining college educations, and all prospective and current students will benefit from the art programming and outreach,” Riley said.
“What it all boils down to are the benefits received by the students,” Forgy said. “We feel it’s important to assist those who may not have the financial means to begin or continue their education. With the current strong leadership in place at UAFS, we hope to be able to help students reach their full potential and to see an impact both within and outside of campus as collaborations take place in the community.”
Blake Rickman, vice chancellor for university advancement, likewise emphasized UAFS’s relationship with the greater Fort Smith region.
“Generous gifts like these allow us to accomplish more in our vital mission of community engagement,” Rickman said. “With this spark as a catalyst, we will provide more educational access to the students of the River Valley, expand on the already high-quality programming in our region, and find innovative ways to engage our community partners. With dedicated organizations like the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum and the Van Buren Center for Art and Education nearby, we look forward to the new ways this gift will allow UAFS to complement and contribute to the expanding cultural economy in the region.”
Windgate Art & Design acts as a portal to the campus. The gallery is free and open to the public during business hours, and many groups on campus and off hold events in the beautiful space. It symbolizes the unique relationship between the university and the greater Fort Smith community.