The University of Arkansas College of Engineering on Wednesday announced a $1.5 million donation from the estate of the late Herman and Barbara Williamson of Shreveport, La.
The money will create an endowed chair in the college. The couple attended the UA in the late 1940s. Herman Williamson died in 2011, and Barbara Williamson died in 2015.
"We are so grateful for this gift," said John English, dean of engineering. "This chair will help us attract and support top-notch teaching and research in the College of Engineering. We're honored to be part of the legacy of this wonderful family."
According to a news release, Herman Williamson grew up in Camden and met Barbara Dyess at the UA. Williamson and Dyess were members of Kappa Sigma and Pi Beta Phi, respectively. The couple married in 1949, the same year Herman earned a bachelor of science in business administration.
After earning his CPA license, Herman became managing director of Hurley Petroleum and later became self-employed with his own investments in oil and gas.
Barbara's father, Earl Dyess, was an engineer whose career brought him to Fayetteville in 1938, where he worked as division engineer and manager for Southwestern Gas and Electric Co. with Swepco. In 1952, he was named vice president.
Dyess was a board member for the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce and the Fayetteville Industrial Foundation. In 1961, the Dyess Substation of Southwestern Electric Power Co. in Springdale was dedicated and named in his honor.
The Williamsons went on to support student scholarships, the UA XI Educational Foundation, the Kappa Sigma Endowment Fund and Pi Beta Phi. They were loyal Razorback fans, according to the UA.
The UA College of Engineering is the largest engineering program in Arkansas, with total enrollment at more than 4,000 students.