Chancellor G. David Gearhart, left, and Melissa Werner, right, president of the Women’s Giving Circle, present a check to the Arkansas Teacher Corps Fellows, represented by Benton Brown, second from left, executive director of Arkansas Teacher Corps, and Tom Smith, dean of the College of Education and Health Professions.

Chancellor G. David Gearhart, left, and Melissa Werner, right, president of the Women’s Giving Circle, present a check to the Arkansas Teacher Corps Fellows, represented by Benton Brown, second from left, executive director of Arkansas Teacher Corps, and Tom Smith, dean of the College of Education and Health Professions.

October 2, 2013

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Women’s Giving Circle recently awarded a record $130,000 to nine University of Arkansas programs. The group has provided more than $750,000 in support to the campus community since its creation in 2002. The Women’s Giving Circle also surpassed Chancellor G. David Gearhart’s 2012 challenge to increase membership to 100 by reaching 104 members on Sept.1.

The Women’s Giving Circle is made up of alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the university and was created to encourage women as philanthropic leaders. The circle raises funds in part by requiring annual cash gifts from its members. The annual gift requirement is $1,000 for alumnae or friends and $500 for recent graduates, students, faculty and staff.

This year’s grant recipients were chosen from more than 50 proposals through an annual online vote and voting event that included Women’s Giving Circle members hearing presentations from the finalists. The amounts of the nine awards given out this year ranged from $1,588 to $30,000.

“The Women’s Giving Circle continues to be a very important philanthropic organization at the University of Arkansas,” Chancellor G. David Gearhart said. “Funding from the circle touches every part of campus by directly impacting the work of our own faculty and staff, and the resulting programs and research serve as outreach to the entire state. It is a pleasure to support them and encourage their growth.”

The programs that received awards this year include:

  • The Arkansas Teacher Corps Fellows, a collaborative partnership between the U of A, school districts and local community organizations that aims to provide high quality teachers in the areas of greatest need throughout Arkansas. The program received $30,000 to support six fellows and was represented by Benton Brown from the College of Education and Health Professions.
  • The UAPD, represented by Brett Waddell, for their Razorback Patrol Golf Cart Escort Program, which is used to provide safe transportation for students, faculty and staff in the evenings so they do not have to walk alone on campus. The $22,000 of funding will purchase a six-seat golf cart and offset additional costs associated with the operation of the cart and the patrol program.
  • Kartik Balachandran, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering, who received $21,000 for research to develop a tumor-on-chip to study the development of migratory cancer cells in response to mechanical stress.
  • Shengfan Zhang, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering, and Kristen Jozkowski, an assistant professor in Health, Human Performance and Recreation, who received $17,887 for their Personalized HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Vaccination Program.
  • Rita Littrell, director of the Bessie B. Moore Center for Economic Education, and her program titled “Decisions, Decisions: Oh the Places You Will Go!” A total of $11,000 was awarded to create a website to assist high school students to organize and evaluate their higher education alternatives based on personalized criteria.
  • The Dream B.I.G. Winter Break Girl Power Conference, which allows the university to provide student mentors at Marvell-Elaine High School during winter break to host a girl empowerment conference. The program received $9,750 and was represented by Amanda Finch from the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement.
  • The Food Recovery Project – Phase II, which received $8,500 toward School of Law professor Susan Schneider’s work to reduce food waste in the community and increase food donations to those in need.
  • The Full Circle Campus Food Pantry Baskets of Hope program, represented by Angela Oxford, which received $8,250 to create fall Thanksgiving baskets, winter holiday baskets, spring-cleaning baskets and summer family picnic baskets for families in need.
  • The Laundry and Literacy Project, which received $1,588 to purchase books and other materials for monthly story times held in area laundromats. The program, led by assistant professors Vicki Collet and Conra Gist from the College of Education and Health Professions, seeks to increase literacy in local children while creating a collection for the Laundry and Literacy Library.

Because the Women’s Giving Circle met the challenge made by Chancellor Gearhart in 2012, the circle received an additional $50,000 donation toward their total giving pool. Reflecting on their accomplishment, the chancellor made the surprise announcement to contribute another $50,000 to the circle if membership could be increased to 125 by September 2014.

“We are inspired and delighted by this new challenge,” said Melissa Werner, president of the Women’s Giving Circle. “Our group has developed an incredible amount of momentum over the last year, and we are eager to recruit even more talented, thoughtful and philanthropic women to join us. Giving back to the university becomes even more meaningful when you see how the donations are making a difference.”

The Women’s Giving Circle was established by founding members of the Women and Philanthropy Committee of the Campaign for the Twenty-First Century and included Pat Cooper, Mary Trimble Maier (B.A. 1949), Julia Peck Mobley (B.S.E. 1965), Harriett Phillips (B.A. 1972), Debbie Walker, Lynne Walton (B.A. 1970), Mary Lib White and Donna Axum Whitworth (B.A. 1966, M.A. 1969).