King Endowments Create Support for Public Programs, Student Experiences

Tom and Jill King.
Photo by Mary Purvis

Tom and Jill King.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Tom and Jill King believe in helping students who are bright and willing to work hard, so they can have a full university experience. Therefore, the Fayetteville couple has chosen to support the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design and the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences with two gifts totaling $1.95 million, resulting in three new endowments that will fund public programs and student experiences at the University of Arkansas.

The JATK Endowment for Public Programs in Architecture and Design, created with $1.5 million of the gift, will provide funding for the Fay Jones School’s internal and external public programs and special events, the advancement of the school’s teaching and learning mission, and for its public outreach.

The couple has also committed another $450,000 to establish the JATK Endowment for the Enhancement of Student Experience in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design and the JATK Endowment for the Enhancement of Student Experience in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. Both of the latter endowments will further enhance, enrich and positively impact the overall student educational experience.

Their gifts counted in Campaign Arkansas, the university’s recently concluded capital campaign that raised nearly $1.45 billion to advance academic opportunity at the U of A.

The Kings moved to Fayetteville in 2008 and became acquainted with the Fay Jones School after seeking out information about their new home, the Joe and Maxine Clark House, which was designed by renowned architect and namesake of the school, Fay Jones.

“After we moved, we often went to the university special collections archives, where the curator, Ellen Compton, was both helpful and friendly,” Tom King said. “She helped us find design documents we needed for our records. We began to attend programs and exhibitions at the Fay Jones School and have come to appreciate its high aspirations and achievements. We think that under Dean MacKeith’s leadership, the school will be among the very best in the U.S. and will make an important contribution to Arkansas.”

Approximately half of the proceeds from the JATK Endowment for Public Programs in Architecture and Design will be used for discretionary funds for public programs and activities, including a public lecture series, a public exhibition series, publications, tableau series, recital series, annual events and external exhibitions.

Another 25 percent of the endowment will be used for an annual award to faculty for specific support of a faculty-based public program, including an exhibition or publication, and the remaining 25 percent will be utilized as an annual award to a student, team of students or student organization for specific support of a student-based public program.

“Through our conversations with Dean MacKeith, we learned that more support for publications, lectures and exhibits is important to the development of the school’s programs, and we are happy to help,” Tom King said.

“In concert with the sustaining ethos of the Fay Jones School design community, this extraordinary gift by Jill and Tom King expresses their profound appreciation for the value of architecture and design in our culture and for the value of architecture and design education,” said Peter MacKeith, dean of the school. “That these values would be stimulated initially by the very home that they reside in — a Fayetteville residence designed by the school’s namesake — lends their generosity a meaningful richness and durable strength. The school’s public programs in architecture and design, already essential extracurricular dimensions for our students and faculty, as well as for the larger community, will benefit immensely from this far-sighted gift, establishing an unshakable foundation of programming for the next generation of Fay Jones School students. On behalf of the school, I am deeply grateful to the Kings for their sustaining commitment to our entire community.”

Funding from both the JATK Endowment for the Enhancement of Student Experience in the Fay Jones School and the JATK Endowment for the Enhancement of Student Experience in the Fulbright Honors College may be used for travel expenses, field trips, conference fees, entry fees to museums and other educationally significant venues, class supplies, incentive awards for student competitions and events, as well as any activities that positively impact the recruitment and retention of superior and diverse students and faculty.

The goal of the endowments is to enrich and contribute to the overall student performance by making available opportunities and experiences that help further develop tangible skills and critical thinking that prepares them for post-school life.

The endowments may also be used to provide incoming first-year students with financial assistance in support of the Fay Jones School’s and Fulbright College’s efforts toward recruiting first-generation students and fostering diversity, equity and inclusion.

For both endowments, preference will be given to students who are graduates of a high school located in any county in the Arkansas Delta and who have been in the foster care system. Recipients must be enrolled full time and entering their freshman year.

“Jill and I were particularly moved by some stories we have read of the plight of foster children in Arkansas who ‘age out.’ We have asked that in allocating funds from our gift, special consideration be given to children like this. We’d like to help disadvantaged children who are bright and willing to work, so they can have a full university experience,” King said. “We also want to support the effort to provide something extra to promising students via the Honors College. We would like to do what we can to ensure that any really good student, willing to work hard, can attend the U of A and get an excellent education.”

“Student success is one of our top priorities, and what the Kings are doing will directly impact and better the future of so many students in our college and across the university,” said Todd Shields, dean of Fulbright College. “We are grateful for Tom and Jill King’s incredible and meaningful support, and excited to be a part of the living legacy they are creating with it.”

Earlier in 2020, the Kings created the Ellen Compton Memorial Fund, in recognition of the special collections archive curator who helped them research their Fayetteville home. Their previous giving also includes support of the John G. William Fellows Endowment and the Fay and Gus Jones House Stewardship Endowment.

Tom King holds an A.B. degree from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from Yale University. Jill King earned a B.A. from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and also holds an M.Phil. from Yale. At the University of Arkansas, they have been involved with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and are counted as Thoroughreds for their nine years of consecutive giving to the university.

“Jill and I both benefited a lot from our educations at elite schools, but we think it is more important to spread excellence more widely, and, in particular, to support developing programs around the country that are showing real signs of excellence,” King said. “The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design is such a place.”

About Campaign Arkansas: Campaign Arkansas is the recently concluded capital campaign for the University of Arkansas that raised a record $1.449 billion to support the university’s academic mission and other key priorities, including 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.


Jennifer Holland, director of development communications
University Relations


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