UA System Receives $10 Million Gift to Create Center of Excellence, Endowed Professorship

U of A and Bumpers College graduates Ed and Michelle Fryar, and the Fryar Family Charitable Foundation, are supporting agricultural success in Arkansas and beyond, and student development at the U of A with a $10 million gift for the new Fryar Price Risk Management Center of Excellence in the college's Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness.
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U of A and Bumpers College graduates Ed and Michelle Fryar, and the Fryar Family Charitable Foundation, are supporting agricultural success in Arkansas and beyond, and student development at the U of A with a $10 million gift for the new Fryar Price Risk Management Center of Excellence in the college's Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness.

LITTLE ROCK – A $10 million donation to the University of Arkansas System from the Fryar Family Charitable Foundation will be used to create and support a center that will provide analysis and education on issues of price risk management in agriculture, finance and energy.

Risk management is the science of anticipating and analyzing the potential for adverse financial events and minimizing the impact of those events. It's essential for success in markets characterized by substantial price risks, such as agricultural commodities.

The donation was announced Thursday by Donald R. Bobbitt, president of the University of Arkansas System. The gift comes from a foundation established by Ed and Michelle Fryar of Rogers, both alumni of the University of Arkansas. Ed Fryar, Ph.D., appointed in March 2019 as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas, has a bachelor's degree in economics and Michelle Fryar holds a bachelor's in psychology, both from the University of Arkansas. Ed, with a master of science in agricultural economics, and Michelle, with a master of science in rural sociology, both received their master's degrees in what was formerly the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology at the University of Arkansas. Ed returned to serve 13 years as an Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness faculty member.

"Our family roots run deep in Arkansas and the University of Arkansas," Ed Fryar said. "This endowment is an opportunity to repay the university for all that it has given us. Price risk management plays an important role in the success or failure of many farms and companies. We hope that our support of research, teaching and extension programs in this area will have a national impact on academia, industry, farming and the career paths of students for many years."

"We are honored to contribute to Campaign Arkansas and to the department where Ed and I were graduate students," Michelle Fryar said. "The University of Arkansas has been a central part of our family from the beginning and we feel it is important to support the university and the state of Arkansas."

Endowment for Center, Professorship

The funds will go to establish the Fryar Family Charitable Foundation Endowment in Price Risk Management. This endowment will create and support the Fryar Price Risk Management Center of Excellence, establish the Fryar Endowed Professorship in Applied Price Risk Management and support research, teaching and extension outreach.

"The uncertainties we face every day make this project so timely," Bobbitt said. "This gift lays the groundwork for the University of Arkansas System to become a global leader for risk management research, education and outreach. We envision building this center on our already successful model that draws on industry expertise to inspire teaching and research on timely applied risk management topics."

Benefits for Professionals, Students

The primary research focus for the center will be behavioral and traditional economic theories in the context of commodity risk management. The center will also look toward improving application of risk management theory in agriculture, finance and energy and develop best practices for formal education degree programs and outreach to risk management professionals, producers, government officials and policymakers.

"The generosity of Ed, Michelle and the Fryar family will transform the capacity of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness into national leadership in the scholarship of price risk management in the areas of research, teaching and extension," said Mark Cochran, vice president-agriculture, for the UA System. "In the research area, this gift will enable both the application and expansion of behavioral and traditional rational expectations theories to the field of price risk management. The teaching component will prepare the next generation of managers and analysts for productive careers in the agriculture and other industries. The extension emphasis will facilitate the delivery and education of this research-based information and decision tools to the practitioners in the field."

The money will be co-managed by the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

"We are glad and grateful to the Fryars for giving back to their alma mater on top of the contributions they've already made," said Deacue Fields, dean of the Bumpers College. "This center will be a game-changer for Bumpers College and for agriculture nationally. We see the center's primary teaching focus will be to develop and offer a comprehensive program that educates students and industry about price risk management strategies in grain, financial, energy and livestock markets; areas that underpin our economy as a whole."

About the University of Arkansas System: The University of Arkansas System has developed a tradition of excellence that includes the state's 1871 flagship, land-grant research university; Arkansas's premier institution for medical education, treatment and research; a major metropolitan university; an 1890 land-grant university; two regional universities serving southern and western Arkansas; seven community colleges; two schools of law; a presidential school; a residential math and science high school; a 100 percent-online university and divisions of agriculture, archeology and criminal justice. The individual entities of the UA System maintain cooperative strength as well as diverse offerings that exhibit unmatched economic and social impact to the state.

The UA System provides communities in Arkansas with access to academic and professional opportunities, develops intellectual growth and cultural awareness in its students and provides knowledge and research skills to an ever-changing society. The system enrolls more than 60,000 students, employs over 17,000 employees, and has a total budget of over $2 billion. An intrinsic part of the texture and fabric of Arkansas, the UA System is a driving force in the state's economic, educational and cultural advancement.

About the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences: Bumpers College provides life-changing opportunities to position and prepare graduates who will be leaders in the businesses associated with foods, family, the environment, agriculture, sustainability and human quality of life; and who will be first-choice candidates of employers looking for leaders, innovators, policy makers and entrepreneurs. The college is named for Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas governor and longtime U.S. senator who made the state prominent in national and international agriculture. For more information about Bumpers College, visit our website, and follow us on Twitter at @BumpersCollege and Instagram at BumpersCollege.

About the Division of Agriculture: The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture's mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation's historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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.


Nate Hinkel, director of communications
University of Arkansas System


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