New Graduate Fellowship Will Provide Access, Aid to Engineering Students
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas alumnus Reginald “Barney” Baxter and his wife, Jameson, are supporting graduate students in the College of Engineering with a $150,000 gift.
The Reginald R. “Barney” and Jameson A. Baxter Graduate Fellowship in Chemical Engineering will be used to recruit and retain top students and fulfill the couple’s desire to continue to strengthen the university’s graduate enrollment.
Students who are selected for the Baxters’ new fellowship will be able to use the funding for wages, tuition, fees or even a stipend.
“The Baxters have been great supporters of the College of Engineering and of the chemical engineering program,” said John English, dean of engineering. “This gift is very important to our vision as a college, because the ability to attract qualified graduate students is essential to our research and teaching missions. In addition, giving more engineering students an opportunity to further their education is a benefit to all of society.”
“We are extremely interested in assuring access to educational institutions and find that funding financial aid or, in this case, fellowships for graduate students, is the right focus for us” said Barney Baxter. ”We specifically believe that a strong graduate program at the University of Arkansas will help assure the continued quality of this institution. The Graduate Fellowship Program should help attract qualified students, which in turn helps assure an excellent faculty. Unlike undergraduates, who often change majors, graduate students have made a commitment to engineering.”
The gift continues the Baxters’ legacy of robust support for students. They have previously made substantial gifts to support the Reginald and Jameson Baxter Scholarship and the R.R. Baxter Amphitheater, both in the College of Engineering.
“Jamie and I have been very focused on education – both volunteering and giving our time to various schools, as well as providing financial support,” said Barney Baxter. “We were very pleased to be able to fund the teaching amphitheater in the College of Engineering and be a part of a facility with the latest in teaching technology and capacity for distance learning. We think these are important components in bringing affordable education to as many as possible.”
Barney Baxter grew up in Cushman, Arkansas, and was one of 12 in his high school graduating class.
“I graduated a week before my 17th birthday and had always planned to go to the University of Arkansas,” he said. “It was a very good school, and I already knew that I was interested in going into chemical engineering. It was a choice that I have never regretted, and I am both proud and grateful for the education I received there.”
Baxter’s time at the university was divided into two parts. After his initial two years, he served in World War II in the Army Signal Corps. During this time, he attended college at Syracuse University, Ohio State University and Texas A&M as part of the Army Specialized Training Program. When he completed his time in the service, he returned to the University of Arkansas on the G.I. Bill and earned his degree in chemical engineering in 1948. He later went on to earn a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering from Iowa State University.
Baxter began his career with Standard Oil of Indiana at its refinery in El Dorado, Arkansas. He then worked for a subsidiary of Esso (now Exxon) in Cartagena, Columbia, for seven years. When he returned to the U.S., Baxter held another position with Esso in New Jersey and then went to work for First Nitrogen Corporation in Louisiana, where he helped build one of the first single train nitrogen manufacturing plants.
Ultimately, Baxter landed with CF Industries as its vice president of manufacturing. After several years with the company, he was appointed president/C.E.O., a position he held for 14 years.
During this time, Baxter met Jameson “Jamie” Adkins in New Orleans. Jamie was employed with First Boston Corporation, the investment banking firm that CF Industries was working with at the time. Baxter notes that “the stars were aligned” for the two of them to meet.
Jamie Baxter became the first female vice president of First Boston Corporation, and in 1985, the couple decided to leave their respective firms and form Baxter Associates Inc. Together, they worked with startups, raised money for companies, developed strategic planning and revitalized companies that needed to be turned around and brought to profitability. Their work ultimately led to their connection with ASHTA Chemicals in Ashtabula, Ohio, which they operated for 19 years. The Baxters bought out the position previously held by General Electric Capital and owned the company in its entirety for 11 years.
The Baxters now reside in North Palm Beach, Florida, but have remained active with the College of Engineering and the University of Arkansas. Barney Baxter serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the college, and both he and Jamie are members of the Campaign Arkansas Steering Committee. They are also both life members of the Arkansas Alumni Association and are recognized in the Towers of Old Main, the university’s most prestigious giving society, at the ruby level.
“We have observed the university over the last 30 to 40 years and have been gratified to see the quality of the professors, as well as the students, continuing to improve,” said Barney Baxter. “As a member of the advisory council, I have had the opportunity to get to know many of the deans of the college over the years, and I feel confident they have exactly the right goals and aspirations for the school.”
About the College of Engineering: The University of Arkansas College of Engineering is the largest engineering program in the state of Arkansas. Over the past decade, the college has experienced unprecedented growth. Undergraduate enrollment has doubled since 2007, and total enrollment in the college is now over 4,000 students. The College of Engineering offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in nine engineering fields, as well as incorporating distance learning and interdisciplinary programs. Faculty in the college conduct research in many key areas, including electronics, energy, healthcare logistics, nanotechnology, transportation and logistics.
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.
Jennifer Holland, director of development communications
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