Hawkins Gift Supports Bumpers College Patio Project
The Oct. 12 groundbreaking for “Hawkins Terrace” and the outdoor student learning center included (from left) Bumpers College Dean Mike Vayda, Bill Hawkins and Suzanne Hawkins.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A generous gift from Bill and Suzanne Hawkins to the Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas will go toward construction of a patio complex on the south end of the Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences Building for use by students, faculty and alumni.
Early plans for the project include a student study center and an outdoor learning center and lab, including the “Hawkins Terrace” portion of the complex. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Saturday, Oct. 12, in recognition of the $100,000 gift.
“This is a wonderful time to celebrate the initiation of our patio project,” said Dean Mike Vayda. “We are so happy to embark on this project, which was taken from an idea from our alumni board. We shared it with our horticulture department, and we’re going to incorporate a teaching garden and an outdoor classroom. It’s going to be a wonderful complex. We’re so glad we will have this. Our students are looking forward to it because it will give them a premier spot to congregate and study, and to socialize with each other. I want to express our extreme gratitude to Bill and Suzanne for the lead gift to make this possible. We really appreciate it.”
A bonus feature of the patio is its location. It sits on the hill northeast of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium and looks down into the facility, offering an excellent view.
“We are delighted to be a part of this project,” said Bill Hawkins. “I started my career in what was the Agriculture College at that time. Suzanne and I had a psychology class together, which was in the Agriculture Building. I’m a farm boy from south Arkansas and I’ve always had a big place in my heart for agriculture. After school, I got into the John Deere business for years and retired just a couple years ago, but I have not lost my interest in the college or the university. We are delighted to be able to give back.”
Hawkins owned Agricultural Productivity Cos., which now sells John Deere tractors and equipment in 11 locations Arkansas, Georgia and Florida. Based in Stuttgart, Ag-Pro began in 1981 as the Frank Lyon Co. with the purchase of three John Deere dealerships. The business eventually expanded to include seven Arkansas dealerships.
“Bill supports the college, and innovations and opportunities as they pertain to academics and agriculture in Arkansas,” said Vayda. “He wants to increase the awareness of agriculture and food businesses. In addition to honoring both Bill and Suzanne with the ‘Hawkins Terrace,’ we want to officially recognize them as ‘Friends’ of the Bumpers College.”
This is the second year the Bumpers College has recognized “Friends.” Other recipients include Don White and White Commercial Corp. in Stuart, Fla., which focuses on futures clearing and grain trading; and Marilyn Bogle, who has supported two endowed scholarships in addition to support for the Jean Tyson Child Development Study Center and the college’s Equine Operational Fund. The “Friends” program is designed for loyal supporters who are not graduates of the Bumpers College.
Robby Edwards, director of communications
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