Taggart Architects Honors Alumnus Jerry E. Currence With Scholarship
Taggart Architects has contributed $50,000 to create an Advance Arkansas scholarship that honors the memory and legacy of Jerry E. Currence, who was president and co-owner of the firm at the time of his death in 2015.
Taggart Architects, a North Little Rock design firm, has contributed $50,000 to create an Advance Arkansas scholarship that benefits Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design students at the U of A.
This endowed scholarship, called the Taggart Architects Advance Arkansas Endowed Scholarship in Memory of Jerry E. Currence, honors the memory and legacy of Jerry E. Currence and his commitment to design excellence, the profession of architecture as well as the community in which he lived and worked.
“Building the scholarship resources of the school is the first priority of our advancement efforts,” said Peter MacKeith, dean of the school. “This scholarship, in honor of one of our significant alumni, created by another significant alumnus, perpetuating the name of one of Arkansas’ great practices, summarizes the loyalty, affections and commitments of our school’s alumni. I am deeply grateful to Bill Gray, everyone at Taggart and all who contributed to building this scholarship fund. Students now and into the future will benefit from this gift.”
The purpose of the Taggart Architects Advance Arkansas Endowed Scholarship in Memory of Jerry E. Currence will be to support new students from Arkansas who exhibit financial need, records of academic success and a strong desire to complete their degree at the U of A.
Preference may be given to a student who is first generation, a community leader, talented transfer or resilient Razorback. Preference will be given to students enrolled in the professional track programs in architecture and interior architecture and design.
Currence was president and co-owner of Taggart Architects at the time of his death in 2015 at age 56. He was a 1984 graduate of the Fay Jones School with a Bachelor of Architecture. In school, he was awarded the Edward Durell Stone Medal, as the final-year architecture student with the highest overall grade point average in design studio work. During his time at the U of A, he also was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity.
Bill Gray, Currence’s longtime friend and business partner and current president and CEO of Taggart Architects, said that Currence was free-spirited and adventuresome, with a love for riding motorcycles and the outdoors. He never met a stranger and was a fun, interesting guy to hang out with.
“He was an outstanding person, dad, husband, design student and professional architect,” Gray said. “He was loved and well respected by family, friends and the architecture profession. I want our firm, the local architecture profession and the Fay Jones School to always remember who he was.”
Gray, who graduated from the U of A in 1983 with a Bachelor of Architecture, recalls when he and Currence ran into each other soon after college. Currence recruited Gray to come work at what was then called Burt Taggart and Associates. Gray accepted the offer.
“The rest is history. We became the yin and yang of the firm,” Gray said. “It was a great partnership. I really miss him.”
A talented designer, Currence soon became Burt Taggart’s protégé and would take over the lead design duties at the firm at a very early age.
“Clients very much enjoyed working with Jerry because he was a good listener and could quickly interpret a client’s needs into a well-thought-out design that was both inspiring and practical,” Gray said. “Jerry enjoyed mentoring the younger staff in our firm and always had an encouraging word to help them build confidence as they learned.”
During his career, Currence became a very astute healthcare designer, and the firm began doing healthcare work all over the country. Currence worked on a range of projects, including many notable office buildings, recreation centers and educational buildings across the state.
“I think he was very proud of all the work we did for Pulaski Technical College (master planning and building design) and partnering with some national firms to lead the Alltel Arena project (now Simmons Bank Arena) and Dickey-Stephens Park,” Gray said. “Jerry came from a very modest background. I want Arkansas students to realize it’s not where you come from, but where you are going. I hope this scholarship benefits and inspires other students in Arkansas that need encouragement and financial help to take the next big step to realizing their dream.”
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design: The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas houses undergraduate professional design programs of architecture, landscape architecture and interior architecture and design together with a liberal studies program. The school also offers a Master of Design Studies, with concentrations in health and wellness design, resiliency design, integrated wood design, and retail and hospitality design. The DesignIntelligence 2019 School Rankings Survey listed the school among the most hired from architecture, landscape architecture and interior design schools, ranking 10th, 14th and eighth, respectively, as well as 28th among most admired architecture schools.
About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the few U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.
Michelle Parks, director of communications
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
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