Fay Jones School Campaign Gifts Build Upon State's Timber Legacy and Forests

The Sunrise Bridge at Garvan Woodland Gardens near Hot Springs.
Courtesy of Garvan Woodland Gardens

The Sunrise Bridge at Garvan Woodland Gardens near Hot Springs.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas is celebrating three recent commitments that will build upon one of Arkansas’ greatest natural resources – its forests.

A $2 million gift from alumni Ross and Mary Whipple and their family will be used to construct the proposed Ross and Mary Whipple Family Forest Education Center at Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs, while an additional $250,000 gift from alumna Peggy Clark and her family will support the Clark Family Exhibition in Timber and Wood and the Clark Family Endowed Scholarships in Arkansas Timber and Wood Design. A third gift of $750,000 from The Ross Foundation will support programming for a forest and sustainability institute.

“The timber industry is an important part of our state’s history, as well as its future, and these gifts will allow Arkansans and visitors alike to engage with and learn more about our forests and how important they are to the state in so many ways,” Chancellor Joe Steinmetz said. “The University of Arkansas is proud to have this facility and accompanying exhibition as part of Garvan Woodland Gardens, as it will allow us to continue our outreach and service to the state – particularly the southern part of the state, where the timber industry continues to thrive. We are grateful that the Whipple family, the Clark family and The Ross Foundation are showing their dedication to Arkansas – and the University of Arkansas – with these gifts.” 

The gifts will also help support the goals of Campaign Arkansas, the university’s capital campaign aimed at increasing academic opportunity at the U of A.

The ross and mary whipple family forest education center

The Ross and Mary Whipple Family Forest Education Center will house a center for educational excellence that will serve as an environmental education facility and an economic development tool, impacting both South Arkansas and the entire state. 

Tentatively projected to total 5,000 square feet, the facility will be constructed predominantly of Arkansas-sourced wood and timber. It will house a permanent Arkansas forest exhibition, as well as offer a variety of changing exhibitions related to the Arkansas forest and the landscapes of the state. It will also serve as the summer location for the Fay Jones School’s annual weeklong Design Camp for students entering grades 9-12 and as the year-round home for an envisioned signature public program aimed at building lifelong appreciation of Arkansas forests and timber industries.

Students and faculty in the Fay Jones School will have the opportunity to participate firsthand in the design and construction of the facility, as a researched, designed and programmed design-build project. The building’s design and construction, predominately accomplished by faculty and students, will demonstrate the vitality of Arkansas’ forests and wood products and showcase the design abilities of Fay Jones School students. The design-build process is expected to begin in January 2020.

“Over the last five years, the Fay Jones School has challenged itself to respond to the question: ‘What does it mean to be a school of architecture and design in a state 57 percent covered in forest?’” Dean Peter MacKeith said. “Our multiple design initiatives — working with good people in the Arkansas forest communities and in the timber and wood products industries — emphasize the social, environmental and economic benefits of design. We want our design education and outreach to elevate the quality of life for the citizens of Arkansas and set an example for the nation.

“It has been a truly inspiring experience for us at the Fay Jones School to work with Ross Whipple and the Whipple family, Peggy Clark and the extended Clark family, as well as with The Ross Foundation, to bring these approaches and ambitions to bear upon south Arkansas, and upon Garvan Woodland Gardens,” he said. “We look forward to bringing the benefits of their gifts to our students, our faculty and our staff — but ultimately to the visitors to Garvan Gardens, young and old, from near and far, far into the future. On behalf of the Fay Jones School, I am deeply grateful.”

Ross Whipple is a graduate of Henderson State University and also holds a Master of Business Administration from the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the U of A. He is a member of the Campaign Arkansas Steering Committee. His wife, Mary, is a graduate of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences with a Bachelor of Arts in English. The Whipples are members of the Arkansas Alumni Association and are counted as Thoroughreds for their 32 years of consecutive giving to the U of A. They reside in Arkadelphia.

The Whipples’ children, alumna Mary Elizabeth Eldridge of Fayetteville, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences alumna Margaret Whipple Doose of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Emily Whipple Nadeau of Little Rock, joined their parents in making the gift.

“Our family is very happy to work with the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, Dean Peter MacKeith and Garvan Gardens to establish the Ross and Mary Whipple Family Forest Education Center, which will highlight the importance of timberland in Arkansas,” Ross Whipple said. “We are thankful for the leadership and vision of Dean Peter MacKeith, who recognizes the existing and potential impact of our state’s forests. We hope that this Forest Education Center will be both an example of architectural design using Arkansas timber and a center that provides opportunities for many educational programs. Garvan Gardens is the perfect environment for this center. After many months of discussion, it is exciting to begin this project!”

The Ross Foundation’s $750,000 gift will be used in support of programming for a forest and sustainability institute. The organization, located in Arkadelphia, was founded in 1966 by Jane and Esther Ross, and its board of trustees manages timberlands held for conservation and charitable purposes.

Ross Whipple, speaking on behalf of The Ross Foundation, said, “The trustees of The Ross Foundation are proud to honor one of our founders with the establishment of the Jane Ross Forest Institute for Environmental Stewardship. Jane began managing her family’s timberlands in the 1950s and always emphasized the importance of responsible land stewardship. The Ross Foundation is very happy to continue this tradition with this endowment.”

The clark family exhibition in arkansas timber and wood

The Clark Family Exhibition in Arkansas Timber and Wood will be established with a $100,000 contribution from Peggy Clark of Hot Springs. The gift will fund the research, design, installation and maintenance of a permanent exhibition demonstrating the character and attributes of the Arkansas forests. The exhibit will focus on their importance to the historical, societal, environmental and economic development of the state, with recognition given to the role of forest communities and the importance of stewardship and sustainable management.

The exhibition will be permanently located in the proposed Ross and Mary Whipple Family Forest Education Center, with a portion of the gift being used to underwrite the research, conception and design through a Fay Jones School faculty-led advanced student seminar.

“Our family wanted to be a part of what the Whipples are doing at Garvan Woodland Gardens and what the U of A is doing in wood design,” Clark said. “Our hope is that this exhibit will showcase the different sides of forestry and its importance to Arkansas, including the environment, the economy and sustainability. It’s important for us to add this strong educational piece to the Gardens.”

The clark family endowed scholarships in arkansas timber and wood design

The Clark Family Endowed Scholarships in Arkansas Timber and Wood Design will be created with a $150,000 contribution from the Clark family. The scholarship endowment will provide financial assistance to students enrolled in the Master of Design Studies degree program, specifically those who are pursuing the concentration of Integrated Wood Design in the Fay Jones School. Transfer students and non-traditional students are all eligible, and the funds may be used for stipends, scholarships, research or study abroad.

“Having a strong graduate program is critical, and scholarships help attract the best students at the graduate level,” Clark said. “Bright graduate students can bring great ideas to the table and enhance the research and innovative work being done in the Fay Jones School.”

Clark is a graduate of Fulbright College and holds a Bachelor of Arts in history. She is a member of the Arkansas Alumni Association and Chancellor’s Society and is counted as a Thoroughred for her 24 years of consecutive giving to the university.

The three gifts were announced at an event at Garvan Woodland Gardens on Nov. 7 and were inspired by the $7.5 million gift made by John Ed and Isabel Anthony in 2018. Their contribution created the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation, which will be a center of excellence for innovation in wood design and product development to expand the use of wood in architectural design, construction techniques and product design. Long-term plans call for an Arkansas Chair in Timber and Wood Innovation and Design to also be housed in the facility.

Collectively, these gifts continue to enhance and help grow the school’s focus on innovations in design through the use of wood and timber, particularly that sourced in Arkansas, which is 57 percent forested. The school has established a graduate degree program, the Master of Design Studies, which includes a concentration in Integrated Wood Design.

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 $1.25 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 fewer than 3% of colleges and 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.

Contacts

Michelle Parks, director of communications
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
479-575-4704, mparks17@uark.edu

Jennifer Holland, director of development communications
University Relations
479-575-7346, jholland@uark.edu

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