McMath Challenge Gift Met

Bob and Linda McMath. Photo credit: Stephen Ironside.
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Bob and Linda McMath. Photo credit: Stephen Ironside.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — In 2014, as a parting gift to the University of Arkansas, Honors College Dean emeritus Bob McMath and his wife Linda pledged $50,000 to endow a scholarship for students enrolled in the Honors College Path Program, a new initiative that helps talented high school students from underrepresented populations become fully engaged and successful students at the University of Arkansas. The McMaths challenged others to participate, with a goal of matching the initial $50,000 gift in three years’ time.


Professors and staff from across campus stepped up to the plate, as did several alumni and even a current student, to meet and exceed the match in less than two years’ time. The McMaths have also pledged an estate gift of $50,000 to support Path Scholarships, bringing their total commitment to $100,000.

“Linda and I are delighted that the match has been met and exceeded, a full year ahead of time,” said Bob McMath. “We are deeply touched by the show of support for these exceptional students, who are already accomplishing great things at the University of Arkansas.”

To ease the transition to college life, new Path students participated in iBridge and R.O.C.K. camp programs last August.

Path Program Supporting Success

Just one and a half years after it launched, the Path Program is flourishing.

“More than one-third of our Path students have joined the Honors College, and they are taking leadership positions at the U of A and in Northwest Arkansas,” said Terrance Boyd, Honors College associate director of recruitment and retention who heads the Path Program.

Path students who join the Honors College receive study abroad grants from the college, and several are planning international studies in Panama, Spain and Italy. Iliana Hernandez, a chemical engineering sophomore, attended the national conference of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and thanks to networking there, secured a summer internship in operations manufacturing at L’Oreal.

The Honors College has expanded opportunities for Path students by partnering with Charles Robinson, vice chancellor of diversity and community, and the Office of Diversity Affairs. For example, in August 2015, the new Path students participated in iBridge, a two-week program designed to help students transition from high school to college. The program supports first-generation, low-income and underrepresented freshmen and is offered by the Office of Diversity Affairs through the Center for Multicultural and Diversity Education.

Path students also participate in the Academic Enrichment Program, a four-year, comprehensive support program offered by the Center for Multicultural and Diversity Education.

Inspired by the McMath’s lead gift, Nick and Carolyn Cole pledged $250,000 to establish an endowed scholarship to benefit participants of the Path Program who have a demonstrated financial need. To date, more than $420,000 has been raised to support the Path Program.

“We are so grateful to Bob and Linda McMath, who got the ball rolling to support this new program, and to all of the friends who stepped forward to meet their challenge,” said Lynda Coon, dean of the Honors College. “We’re also very grateful to the Coles for their generous gift. We hope to create many more endowed scholarships to fund our Path students – they are truly A-plus and deserving of support.”

About the Honors College: The University of Arkansas Honors College was established in 2002 and unites the university’s top undergraduate students and professors in a learning environment characterized by discovery, creativity and service. Each year the Honors College awards up to 90 freshman fellowships that provide $70,000 over four years, and more than $1 million in undergraduate research and study abroad grants. The Honors College is nationally recognized for the high caliber of students it admits and graduates. Honors students enjoy small, in-depth classes, and programs are offered in all disciplines, tailored to students’ academic interests, with interdisciplinary collaborations encouraged. Fifty percent of Honors College graduates have studied abroad – three times the national average – and one hundred percent of Honors College graduates have engaged in mentored research.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Lynda Coon, dean
Honors College

Kendall Curlee, director of communications
Honors College


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