Alumnus Gives $10 Million to Benefit Chemical Engineering Department
Financial challenges didn’t deter Rick Moore from going to college. While he landed scholarships to pay tuition and college costs, he worked to make ends meet at a variety of part-time jobs including operating a tutoring business, teaching scuba diving and working as a co-op engineer at Dow.
“The most important lessons my parents taught me were integrity, a strong work ethic, self-reliance, the value of a dollar and the value of education,” Moore said in August. “I learned the world owed me nothing. Opportunities were available, but it was up to me to find them and then work hard to take advantage of them.”
Moore passed away Aug. 28 surrounded by loved ones in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
After retiring as president of Ford, Bacon & Davis, a post he held for 29 years, Moore made plans to give back to the College of Engineering that prepared him for success. His $10 million planned gift will endow funds for scholarships, a professorship, faculty recruitment and provide additional funds to benefit the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering. The scholarships will give preference to students from Arkansas and those who work while they are in college.
“I cannot overstate the incredible impact Rick’s gifts will have on the college as we set our sights on becoming the destination of choice for students from the heartland to study engineering,” said Dean Kim Needy. “We are so grateful for Rick’s dedication to education and for his amazing generosity in helping our students and faculty achieve their dreams.”
Moore’s gifts will better position the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering to attract top-tier faculty and research, provide modern equipment in teaching labs and financially support students to gain a chemical engineering degree.
In recognition of Moore’s gifts, the department is naming an undergraduate teaching lab in his honor.
"The Ricky L. Moore Teaching Lab will stand as a symbol of Rick's persistence as a student, his industry success and his lifelong love of teaching," said Keisha Walters, Chemical Engineering Department head. "His story continues to inspire. Rick’s self-reliance and belief in himself serve as models that our students can draw from. We are proud to have Rick as an alum and are incredibly grateful to him."
“I am very grateful for Rick’s generosity, but I’m just as thankful for his example,” said Chancellor Charles Robinson. “So many young Arkansans can relate to the story of someone from humble beginnings who possessed the talent and desire to achieve great things. And they can learn so much from how that person did the necessary work to make his dreams come true and then used the fruits of his labor to uplift the next generation. This generous gift will support our land-grant mission of transforming lives through education and research, and it will ensure that young Arkansans will be inspired by Rick Moore’s story for years to come.”
Moore was born in De Queen and raised in Foreman and was co-valedictorian at Foreman High School. On the advice of a mentor, Moore studied for two years at Texarkana Community College, which prepared him well for the rigors of engineering, he said.
After studying electrical engineering and working at Texas Instruments in Dallas, Moore realized chemical engineering was best for him. The U of A was the only realistic option, given that he couldn’t afford out-of-state tuition. As it turned out, this decision changed his life.
He was a nontraditional scholar, admitted after registration deadlines as a special student. He received permission from the department head, Professor Jim Couper, to take courses out of sequence.
Moore completed his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1980. He took a job as a process engineer for S&B Engineers and Constructors. He rose through the ranks at the company and its affiliates. In 1992, Moore became president of Process Services Inc., which acquired the assets of Ford, Bacon & Davis in 1996. He integrated them and retired from Ford, Bacon & Davis in 2020.
Moore developed a lifelong love for scuba diving during his time in Texarkana. Over the years, he continued to teach diving at all levels, completed more than 3,500 dives around the world and served as chairman of NAUI Services Group, the business subsidiary of the not-for-profit National Association of Underwater Instructors.
Moore said he chose to donate his wealth to higher education because he believed it offers the best benefit to society and can help lift an individual’s socioeconomic status.
“My life is a clear example of this,” he said. “Of the many worthy causes, I feel engineering education is the most leverageable. Engineering graduates contribute diversly across society in many fields. They are a key element to solving the current and future problems of our civilization. Our world needs more of them.”
When Moore served on a panel for the engineering society Tau Beta Pi a few years ago, students wanted to know about how their careers took them beyond engineering and how they achieved work-life balance.
Moore said advice given to the students was to focus on technical subjects, learn to write well, speak well and communicate ideas effectively.
"A piece of advice that we all agreed on was if you don't enjoy your job, do something different," Moore said.
About University Advancement: University Advancement advances the mission of the University of Arkansas by raising private gift support from alumni, friends, parents, foundations, corporations, and other institutional supporters. Working in philanthropic partnership with academic leaders and volunteers, Advancement team members are determined to advance the people, work, and impact of the greater whole at the University of Arkansas.
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 and Economic Development News.
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