The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas received $3 million in donations for forestry-related projects, including $2 million from the Ross and Mary Whipple family for an education center at Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs.
In a news release, the school said the three gifts "will build upon one of Arkansas' greatest natural resources – its forests."
The $2 million from the Whipples will be used to build the proposed Ross and Mary Whipple Family Forest Education Center at Garvan Woodland Gardens. An additional $250,000 from Peggy Clark and her family will support the Clark Family Exhibition in Timber and Wood and the Clark Family Endowed Scholarships in Arkansas Timber and Wood Design. A third gift of $750,000 from The Ross Foundation will support programming for a forest and sustainability institute.
"The timber industry is an important part of our state's history, as well as its future, and these gifts will allow Arkansans and visitors alike to engage with and learn more about our forests and how important they are to the state in so many ways," Chancellor Joe Steinmetz said. "The University of Arkansas is proud to have this facility and accompanying exhibition as part of Garvan Woodland Gardens, as it will allow us to continue our outreach and service to the state — particularly the southern part of the state, where the timber industry continues to thrive."
The money will also help support the goals of Campaign Arkansas, the university's capital campaign.
The UA said the Whipples' forest education center will house a center for educational excellence that will serve as an environmental education facility and an economic development tool. The 5,000-SF center will be built mainly from Arkansas wood and timber and house a permanent Arkansas forest exhibition, as well as offer a variety of changing exhibitions related to the Arkansas forest and the landscapes of the state. It will also serve as the summer location for the Fay Jones School's annual weeklong design camp.
The Ross Foundation's $750,000 gift will be used to support programming for a forest and sustainability institute. The organization, located in Arkadelphia, was founded in 1966 by Jane and Esther Ross, and its board of trustees manages timberlands held for conservation and charitable purposes.
"The trustees of The Ross Foundation are proud to honor one of our founders with the establishment of the Jane Ross Forest Institute for Environmental Stewardship," Ross Whipple, speaking on behalf of The Ross Foundation, said. "Jane began managing her family's timberlands in the 1950s and always emphasized the importance of responsible land stewardship. The Ross Foundation is very happy to continue this tradition with this endowment."
The Clark Family Exhibition in Arkansas Timber and Wood will be established with a $100,000 contribution from Peggy Clark of Hot Springs. The money will fund the research, design, installation and maintenance of a permanent exhibition demonstrating the character and attributes of the Arkansas forests. The exhibition will be permanently located in the Ross and Mary Whipple Family Forest Education Center.
The Clark Family Endowed Scholarships in Arkansas Timber and Wood Design will be created with a $150,000 contribution from the Clark family. The endowment will provide financial assistance to students enrolled in the master of design studies degree program.