Over the course of the past decade, the institution we now call the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith has undergone a remarkable transformation—from a strong and widely respected community college into a dynamic regional university. That transformation would simply not have been possible without generous support from people like you.
A formidable force for betterment of the Greater Fort Smith region, the University functions not only as an educational institution, but also as an economic engine and a cultural resource. Today, students can choose among a variety of associate and certificate programs as well as more than 30 bachelor's programs, several of which have achieved national recognition. More of our brightest young people—as well as adult students—pursue their educational dreams here, instead of in Fayetteville, Central Arkansas, Oklahoma, or even farther away. And that, in turn, means those students are more likely to live and work here after graduation—as teachers, nurses, police officers, accountants, entrepreneurs, engineers, reporters, librarians and more.
"A gift to UAFS is the best possible investment you can make in the future of this region."
The steady stream of work-ready, think-ready graduates produced by UAFS supplies the intellectual capital the region’s economy needs, but that isn’t the only way the University advances economic development. We directly support local businesses with outreach ventures like the Center for Business Research and Economic Development. We work closely with local and state leaders to attract industry and development to the greater Fort Smith area. UAFS is also big business, with an economic impact on the region of $222 million in 2011.
The University also contributes immeasurably to quality of place. Every year, our Season of Entertainment brings national touring shows to Fort Smith and showcases our dynamic student performers. Our athletic department competes in NCAA Division II competition. Our Academy of the Arts offers instruction in music, theater, and art to children and adults of all skill levels. And our faculty, staff, and students are deeply engaged beyond campus as community leaders, workers, and volunteers.
But the kind of excellence we pursue is highly dependent on private gifts from people like you. Tuition and fees cover roughly half the cost of educating our students. State funding helps cover what tuition doesn’t, but it varies from year to year according to economic conditions and budgeting decisions. Nor are budget allocations keeping pace with our growth. Our state funding has dropped from about $5,100 per student in 2001 to less than $4,000 in 2011—not even accounting for inflation. Together, tuition, fees, along with state and county funding provide for the “basics.”
So it’s private philanthropy, plain and simple, that funds our pursuit of excellence, our endeavor to support this region with a first-rate university. Philanthropy allows us to help promising students with about $1 million a year in scholarships, to attract top faculty with prestigious endowed chairs and professorships, to outfit our classrooms with the latest equipment and technology, to beautify our award-winning campus for the enjoyment of our students and the community, and to enrich the cultural life of the University and the region through support of the arts.
A gift to UAFS is the best investment you can make in the future of this region.