Ground Broken on Learning and Research Center

Nineteen gold shovels lay neatly arranged for ground breaking on Boreham libraryNineteen gold shovels lay neatly arranged—waiting for the university administrators, area planners, philanthropists, contractors, dignitaries, and students who would soon drive them into the red Fort Smith dirt—as Chancellor Paul B. Beran spoke June 28 to a crowd assembled to celebrate the breaking of ground for the Learning and Research Center at Boreham Library.


“As we’ve focused on developing our programs, our faculty, and our classroom buildings, we’ve essentially pulled our library along behind,” Beran said. “Today, that changes. Today, we celebrate the decision to vault the Boreham Library well into the 21st century.


“The Learning and Research Center at Boreham Library,” Beran continued, “completes the intellectual and educational transformation from community college to university that Chancellor Stubblefield began on January 1, 2002 [when Westark College became the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith].”


The University is committed to raising $5 million in private gifts to help offset the $14.2 million cost of the project, and just before Dr. Beran spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, UAFS Foundation Board member Peggy Hadley announced five gifts, totaling nearly $700,000, the Foundation had already received.


Among them were two anonymous gifts: one given to name the study corner on the first floor of the addition, and another for two study carrels.


Doug and Loretta Parker gave $50,000 to name The Kyle D. Parker, J.D. Landing Area to honor their son, currently serving as UAFS Vice Chancellor for Planning and Technology, for his devoted service to the University.


Also announced was an estate gift of more than $100,000 from the Joan W. Worley Living Trust to name the large presentation room on the first floor of the addition in honor of Ms. Worley’s parents, Bruce and Eileen Worley.


Finally longtime benefactors Dr. Ted and Betty Skokos gave $500,000 to name the airy, two-story rotunda of the Learning and Research Center The Dr. Ted and Betty Skokos Commons. Dr. Skokos coached the FSJC basketball team in the 1950s as a volunteer and served for decades as a trusted advisor to college leaders.