$2.25 Million Donated To UA Center For Arkansas History And Culture

Sep 10, 2019

UA Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture Director Deborah Baldwin speaking at Tuesday's announcement about the $2.25 million gift to the center.
Credit Sarah Kellogg / KUAR News

The Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust has pledged $2.25 million to the UA Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture. The funds will be managed by the University of Arkansas Foundation.

During a news conference on Tuesday, University of Arkansas System President Donald Bobbitt announced that the gift is to support the Winthrop Rockefeller Collection and its other activities and collections in an effort to perpetuate continual support.

"The gift will allow the center to contribute to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s educational and outreach mission, and by extension, the University of Arkansas System’s mission to serve the research and educational needs of this state," Bobbitt said.

The center was established as an archive in 1980 when the Winthrop Rockefeller papers were first donated. The center operated as an archive out of the Ottenheimer Library until 2009 when it moved from the UA Little Rock campus into a downtown partnership with the Central Arkansas Library System.

According to center Director Deborah Baldwin, the facility has since broadened its scope to not only maintain the university’s research agenda but also to increase educational opportunities and engage with organizations that are involved in preservation issues.

"Winthrop Rockefeller’s gift established the university’s ability to collect, keep safe and make available Arkansas’s history for our faculty, our students, and our community. The center’s bright future means that our students and community partners will have more opportunities to learn about Arkansas and its people in highly technical and interesting ways," Baldwin said.

She also spoke about three initiatives that are now possible thanks to the generous gift:

  • “First, our archival collections can be a more complete reflection of the state’s people and organizations.”
  • “Secondly, we will be able to offer our students at all levels signature experiences that will hone their analytical skills and their critical thinking.”
  • “Third, we will hasten our work in the digitization arena.”

Acting UA Little Rock Chancellor Christina Drale told attendees that Rockefeller himself signed the legislation in 1969 that created the University of Arkansas at Little Rock out of the then private university and adding it to the UA System.

"Our state is a better place because Winthrop Rockefeller chose Arkansas as his home and we are fortunate to have the UA Little Rock Center of History and Culture to remind us of this legacy and to preserve it," Drale said.

Executive Trustee of the Winthrop Charitable Trust Marion Burton said the gift was made to the UA Foundation so that it will continue to grow in perpetuity, making it so the activities of the center will continue to be supported.

"We are now realizing how important a foundation connected to a university system is to the future of our education in Arkansas," Burton said.

Will Rockefeller, Winthrop Rockefeller’s grandson, attended the center’s celebration and said his family is proud of the legacy his father and grandfather have left on the state.

"My grandfather and father’s archives here at the UA Little Rock center continue to take the Arkansas story to the world," Rockefeller said.