Beldens Support Students, Faculty and Athletics With $2 Million Campaign Gift

Alumni Ted and Leslie Belden (far left) with Martha Sutherland and Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design Dean Peter MacKeith.
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Alumni Ted and Leslie Belden (far left) with Martha Sutherland and Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design Dean Peter MacKeith.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas alumni Ted and Leslie Belden of Fayetteville have made a $2 million planned gift to Campaign Arkansas that will support faculty, students and an endowment in athletics. Their gift creates the Cyrus A. and Martha Sutherland Endowed Chair in Preservation Design, the Sam Smith Endowed CARE Scholarship and the Roland Sales Endowment in Student Athlete Development. Each designation established by the Beldens carries significance behind its naming.

“Ted and Leslie’s personal experiences and family connections have inspired these gifts and demonstrate the positive impact a University of Arkansas education has on alumni and their families,” Chancellor Joe Steinmetz said. “I admire their commitment to faculty excellence, student success and the well-being and career preparedness of our student athletes. The results of their investment will be felt for generations to come.”

As students at the U of A, Ted and Leslie Belden had Cy Sutherland as one of their professors in the then-School of Architecture, where Sutherland’s wife, Martha, also worked as a faculty member.

“Cy loved vernacular architecture and was one of the significant movers-and-shakers in Arkansas in historic preservation,” Leslie Belden said. “He taught a class in historic preservation that impacted me greatly.”

Even after she graduated from the university, Belden took another course from Sutherland that was offered in central Arkansas. And when Belden was asked to attend a meeting that Sutherland had to miss, it resulted in Belden being named secretary of the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas. “I’ve been committed to historic preservation ever since,” she said.

The Beldens operate Old Buildings, a Fayetteville company that adapts and renovates existing structures or provides infill in historic settings. They, along with Sutherland, were instrumental in saving Carnall Hall from demolition and restoring the iconic building.

Historic Preservation

“We believe that the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design needs a graduate program emphasizing historic preservation because Arkansas needs more of its architects committed to, and knowledgeable about, protecting the culture of our state and the fabric of our older areas of towns and cities,” the Beldens said.

The Cyrus A. and Martha Sutherland Endowed Chair in Preservation Design will be funded with $1 million of the couple’s contribution and used to support a faculty chair who demonstrates leadership in preservation design education, a mission of teaching, research and community engagement in practice and the ability to critically re-imagine the place and potential of historic places as an intrinsic element of contemporary design practice.

“The Beldens’ gift in recognition of Cy and Martha Sutherland possesses multiple values for the Fay Jones School,” said Dean Peter MacKeith. “Recognizing the Sutherlands through an endowed chair emphasizes the school’s commitment to its legacy of faculty excellence, as well as to its future. The professorship is fundamental to our advancement of preservation design as a school priority, and just as fundamental thereby to our commitment to the cultural heritage of the state and region. Ted and Leslie have been valued counselors to me, and now generous benefactors to the school, and we are deeply grateful.”

Helping Students

The Sam Smith Endowed CARE Scholarship will be established with $500,000 and will provide financial assistance to prospective incoming first-generation freshmen who are admitted to the university. The scholarship, which is named after Leslie Belden’s father and grandfather – Milton Samuel Smith III and Milton Samuel Smith II, will give first consideration to students residing in St. Francis County, where Belden lived as a child.

“The economy of St. Francis County, like much of the Delta, is debilitating and financial resources supporting education are less and less every year,” Belden said. “I am not there to be a part of the solution, but I hope this scholarship can offer hope to the students who remain there, as well as the teachers and faculty in their education system.”

Belden’s grandfather, Milton Samuel Smith II, was superintendent of schools in St.  Francis County, and her grandmother was principal of the elementary school. Belden’s mother and maternal grandmother taught in Forrest City, and her aunt was the high school librarian.

“Education is an important part of Leslie’s family history,” said Steinmetz. “The Sam Smith Endowed CARE Scholarship is a wonderful tribute to that history and will undoubtedly impact the lives of many students from the eastern part of our state. Advancing student success is a critical priority for the university, and we greatly appreciate Ted and Leslie’s commitment to making that happen. We need more scholarships like this so we can continue to make the University of Arkansas accessible and affordable for Arkansans.”

“Students are what the U of A is all about,” said the Beldens. “If we want the students of Arkansas to have the best opportunities possible, then we need a top-notch faculty that is appropriately paid. Our chair and scholarship designations will help increase accessibility to the university and support the faculty who transform their lives.”

Preparing Student-Athletes

Another $500,000 will be used to create the Roland Sales Endowment in Student-Athlete Development and endow the position of director of student-athlete development. The funds generated by the endowment will further the mission of the student-athlete development program, which prepares student-athletes for peak performance in life by equipping them with tangible skills and critical information that prepares them for college experiences and life after college athletics.

“Ted and I are strong supporters of athletics, but we realize the enjoyment we get from athletic events comes at the cost of time commitment and exertion on the bodies of talented athletes,” said Leslie Belden. “We hope this endowment will provide critical life skills and encourage character development, because both are essential to succeed in life.”

The endowment is named after Roland Sales, a former running back for the Razorbacks who, as a student, set a record for the most rushing yards at the Orange Bowl in 1978. Both Sales and Belden were in a study group together, and their interaction as classmates led her to the realization that student-athletes deserve the life skills and education needed to achieve success after graduation.

“This thoughtful and purposeful gift from the Beldens aligns perfectly with our mission of developing student-athletes to their fullest potential through intercollegiate athletics,” said Jeff Long, vice chancellor and director of athletics. “Ted and Leslie understand the critical importance of preparing our more than 460 student-athletes for success in their lives beyond this campus and their athletics careers. This endowment will help ensure that the Student-Athlete Development program at the University of Arkansas continues to serve as one of the nation’s best comprehensive life skills, leadership and career development programs in the nation.”

In addition to a Bachelor of Architecture, Leslie Belden also earned a Doctor of Philosophy in public policy from the U of A and a Master of Arts in Divinity and a Doctorate of Ministry from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Ted Belden holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the U of A. The Beldens are members of the Campaign Arkansas Steering Committee and former co-chairs of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design campaign committee. They are also members of the Architecture Dean’s Circle, life members of the Arkansas Alumni Association and are designated as Thoroughreds for their 24 years of consecutive giving to the university. Leslie Belden is a member of the Women’s Giving Circle.

“Ted and I met on a School of Architecture trip to Italy, so without the U of A we wouldn’t be together or have our wonderful daughters and grandchildren,” said Belden. “I am a lifelong Arkansan and, for me, loving and supporting my state and its flagship university are ingrained into my character. Supporting the University of Arkansas is like going to church, celebrating holidays with my family and breathing.”

About Campaign Arkansas: Campaign Arkansas is the ongoing capital campaign for the University of Arkansas to raise private gift support for the university’s academic mission and other key priorities. The campaign’s goal is to raise $1 billion to support academic and need-based scholarships, technology enhancements, new and renovated facilities, undergraduate, graduate and faculty research, study abroad opportunities and other innovative programs. The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in a wide spectrum of disciplines as it works to fulfill its public land-grant mission to serve Arkansas and beyond as a partner, resource and catalyst.

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
University Relations


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