FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Citing "the courageous leadership" demonstrated recently by athletics director Jeff Long, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and its board chair Tuesday announced two separate gifts to the University of Arkansas totaling $1.25 million.
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation approved a $1 million gift to help fund the university’s planned Student-Athlete Success Center, a multipurpose academic resource and study center and dining hall for use by the university’s 460 students participating in intercollegiate athletics.
Reynolds Foundation Board Chair Fred W. Smith made a separate, personal donation of $250,000 to support the Student-Athlete Success Center and to rename the university’s existing student-athlete development program as the Jeff Long Student-Athlete Development Program.
"The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is pleased to make a gift to assist in the construction of a new Student-Athlete Success Center and to create the Jeff Long Student-Athlete Development Program at the University of Arkansas," Smith announced. "For more than 57 years, the Reynolds Foundation has identified and financially supported organizations and their leaders whose vision is to make a lasting impact in the lives of others.
"The courageous leadership demonstrated by Jeff Long in the course of recent events has further affirmed our confidence in his leadership and his vision for intercollegiate athletics at the University of Arkansas," Smith continued. "Mr. Long acted with integrity and with the best interests of Razorback student-athletes and the University of Arkansas in mind."
Smith also shared the reasons behind his own personal gift to the university in Jeff Long’s name.
"In addition to the Reynolds Foundation gift, I am honored to make a personal gift of $250,000 to the Student-Athlete Success Center and the student-athlete development program," Smith stated. "My family is extremely proud of the University of Arkansas and all that it represents. We are grateful to Chancellor [G. David] Gearhart and Vice Chancellor Long for their tremendous leadership and guidance of this great institution that continues to hold a special place in the hearts of the Smith family."
"The university is extremely fortunate to have the support of the Reynolds Foundation board as well as the support of Fred Smith and his family," Gearhart said. "Their generous gifts represent an impressive and meaningful expression of support for-and trust in-the leader of Razorback athletics. They also represent a strong commitment to the young women and men who represent our university in intercollegiate athletics as students and as athletes. Both the Reynolds Foundation and the Smith family are making clear their belief in our university and its future."
"In approving this grant, the Foundation reaffirms our commitment to Razorback Athletics and the University of Arkansas," Foundation President Steven L. Anderson stated. "Our previous grant to kick off the expansion of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium and most recently our $10 million commitment to the football operations center challenged the Razorback faithful to step up their support for the football program. We hope, once again, supporters from across the state and country will show their support of Jeff Long and the athletic program in a meaningful way."
The Student-Athlete Success Center is one of the proposed facilities outlined in the recently released Razorback Athletic Master Facility Plan. The center will house academic support facilities, including group and individual tutorial rooms, study hall areas, a large auditorium, computer labs, multi-media, career planning, service learning and community service areas.
The center will also include a dining facility that will provide a training table for all 460 student-athletes competing in 19 sports. The dining facility will cater to the nutritional needs of student-athletes while providing the flexibility to meet dining needs of student-athletes on weekends and during other irregular schedules. The facility will also help student-athletes in the efficiency of meeting the many demands of student-athletes by providing a training table located near practice and academic areas.
Conceptual plans present a facility that will range in size from 47,000-58,000 square feet. The total projected cost is $18 million-$23 million. There is currently no timetable for design and construction of the facility which willrequire approval from the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.
The Student-Athlete Development Program helps foster the growth of academic, leadership and life skills to benefit student-athletes on and off the field. The existing multifaceted program provides student-athletes with interview and job skills, education about making healthy choices, customized leadership training and provides opportunities for community service.
Long said the news of the donations took him aback.
"When Chancellor Gearhart called to tell me that the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and Fred Smith had made substantial gifts in my name to our university, I was surprised and truly humbled," Long shared. "I am extremely grateful to the Reynolds Foundation and the Smith family for their continued investment in the lives of Razorback student-athletes and the University of Arkansas. They have been long time advocates of the Razorbacks, the university and the entire state of Arkansas. Their generosity will help us meet our mission of developing student-athletes to their fullest potential through intercollegiate athletics. Our student-athlete development program remains a focus of our department and of great importance to me."
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a private foundation located in Las Vegas, Nev. It has been a long-time supporter of the University of Arkansas and Razorback Athletics. Most recently it provided a $10 million challenge grant for the new football center. More information about the Reynolds Foundation is available at http://www.dwreynolds.org/default.htm