Women's Giving Circle Celebrates 'Sweet 16' Funding Year

"Patent Bootcamp for Women and Minorities in STEM" was one of 11 projects chosen for funding by the Women's Giving Circle in 2018.
Photo by Russell Cothren

"Patent Bootcamp for Women and Minorities in STEM" was one of 11 projects chosen for funding by the Women's Giving Circle in 2018.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas Women’s Giving Circle celebrated its “Sweet 16” funding year by awarding $100,000 at its annual fall voting event on Oct. 19. In addition to funding 11 university programs, the circle has awarded three scholarships to students this year.

The Women’s Giving Circle Founders Endowed Advance Arkansas Scholarship was created in 2016 and awarded for the first time last fall. This fall, two freshmen — Nickole Hallmark, an education major from Elkins, and Anna Dooly, a history major from Fort Smith — are the recipients of the scholarship.

Jenna Buys, a senior nursing major from Dallas, is the third student scholarship recipient benefiting from the Women’s Giving Circle this academic year. She was awarded the Women’s Giving Circle Endowed Scholarship in Nursing, which was established in 2011.

The Women’s Giving Circle is made up of U of A alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the university and was created to encourage women as philanthropic leaders. The circle raises funds in part by requiring annual cash gifts from its members. The annual membership is $1,000 for alumnae or friends and $500 for recent graduates, students, faculty and staff. Membership in the circle counts toward Campaign Arkansas, the university’s $1.25 billion capital campaign.

Membership contributions are pooled together and awarded annually to selected recipients who complete the grant proposal process. This year’s grant recipients were chosen from 26 proposals, with 11 finalists selected through an online vote. Women’s Giving Circle members heard presentations from the finalists as part of Friday’s voting event and then chose the winning programs. The amounts of the 11 grants given out this year ranged from $3,790 to $13,675.

The proposals that received funding this year include:

  • Transitions to Adulthood for Displaced Women Aging out of Foster Care, a collaboration between Amanda Williams, assistant professor of human development and family science, and Saving Grace Transitional Living Program in Northwest Arkansas. Saving Grace provides housing and life skills training for displaced young women without children who have aged out of foster care, and Williams seeks to add evidence-based curricula to their content areas and establish innovative methods for evaluating program efficacy. Williams is with the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences and received $13,675.
  • Soaring High in Engineering (SHE) Camp – Batesville and Camden Expansion, which will introduce STEM concepts through a problem-based engineering camp to students from Batesville and Camden in the summer of 2019, expanding on a program that already reaches students in Blytheville, Hot Springs and other parts of the state. The camp, which received $12,700, was represented by Amy Warren, assistant director of outreach and summer programs, in the College of Engineering.
  • MicroProbing the Chemistry of Depression, Drug Addiction and Other Diseases of the Brain – Phase Two, which continues research to determine the measurable neurotransmitter levels of a microprobe device that was successfully built with prior funding from the Women’s Giving Circle, enabling a deeper understanding of depression, drug addiction and neurogenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and ALS. Ingrid Fritsch, professor of analytical chemistry in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, received $10,881 for her research.
  • Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design – Design Camp 2019, a collaborative effort in the Fay Jones School to provide an immersive design experience for 9th through 12th grade students, in which they are exposed to design professions, collaborative work and university life during a week-long experience. Design Camp 2019 received $10,600 and was represented by Alison Turner, clinical assistant professor in the Fay Jones School.
  • Ultrasound Unit for Women’s Clinic at Pat Walker Health Center, which will fund the purchase of a small ultrasound unit. The Pat Walker Health Center Women’s Clinic provides over 7,000 visits each year, and the ultrasound unit will be used for intra-uterine device position verification, as well as the assessment of other conditions in the Women’s and Primary Care Clinics. Lyn Edington, director of nursing for the center, presented the proposal, which received $10,000.
  • Community-Based Breastfeeding Support, which aims to provide a clean, comfortable and supportive environment for mothers and children attending athletic events on campus while increasing community awareness of the importance of breastfeeding. The program received $9,554 and was presented by Allison Scott and Kelly Johnson, assistant professors of nursing in the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing in the College of Education and Health Professions.
  • Protective Armor Plate Design, a study to optimize the design of armor plates for women police officers in Arkansas, using a 3D surface topographic imaging technique. Presented by Mahendran Balasubramanian, assistant professor in the School of Human Environmental Sciences, the study received $8,700.
  • Patent Bootcamp for Women and Minorities in STEM, a one-day bootcamp for women and minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics on the basics of patent law and the patent application process. The project was presented by Uche Ewelukwa from the School of Law and received $7,500.
  • Innovating Rural Arkansas: Student Solutions to Community Problems, which supports the Students Involved in Sustaining Their Arkansas Project. The SISTA Project is a collaboration between the Department of English and the Business Communication Lab that encourages students from the Delta and other underrepresented Arkansas high schools to envision sustainable community projects and create business plans and grant proposals for those projects. Jessi Schnebelen, tutor coordinator for the Business Communication Lab, presented the project, which received $6,700.
  • Early Detection of Cognitive Impairment in Women, a project to determine the ability of new technology to detect small changes over time in women over 65 years of age, in an attempt to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The project was represented by Michelle Gray, director of the Exercise Science Research Center and associate professor of exercise science in the College of Education and Health Professions, and it received $5,900.
  • Pictures Say a Thousand Words: Improving Self Esteem Through Photographs, which will offer mini senior portrait sessions by U of A agricultural communications students throughout Northwest Arkansas for high school students with financial need by collaborating with Arkansas FFA, Arkansas Cooperative Extension Services and area schools. The proposal received $3,790 and was represented by assistant professor Jill Rucker and instructor Casandra Cox in the Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.

Melissa McIlroy Hawkins, president of the Women’s Giving Circle, presented checks to the grant recipients, along with Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Jim Coleman and Vice Chancellor for Advancement Mark Power.

“We were inspired by the thoughtfulness and passion behind this year’s proposals,” Hawkins said. “Awarding these grants is something we look forward to all year. If anyone is ever unsure about whether or not the Women’s Giving Circle is a worthwhile investment, we encourage them to attend one of these voting events. You leave feeling encouraged and excited about what we can accomplish together.”

The Women’s Giving Circle was established in 2002, and its founding members included Sylvia Boyer (B.S.E.’63), Pat Cooper, Johnelle Hunt, Mary Trimble Maier (B.A.’49), Julia Peck Mobley (B.S.E.’65), Harriett Phillips (B.A.’72), Debbie Walker, Lynne Walton (B.A.’70), Margaret Whillock (B.S.E.’57), Mary Lib White and Donna Axum Whitworth (B.A.’66, M.A.’69).

Lifetime members of the circle include Carol S. Adams, Nancy Bittle, Kelly Chaney, Charlotte Downs, Sandra K. Edwards, Margie Pomfret Farber, Denise Garner, Martha Cornwell Haguewood, Melissa McIlroy Hawkins, Denise Henderson, Trish Brown Joyner, Kellie Knight, Lee Lane, Marybeth Mayfield, Judy McDonald, Julia Peck Mobley, Harriett Phillips, Catherine Ross, Susan Scott Ross, Jane Shipley, Sandy Steinmetz, Debbie S. Walker, Dina Wood and Ann Marie Ziegler.

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
479-575-7346, jholland@uark.edu


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