‘Night of Distinction’ a big success

Thanks to the generosity of sponsors and participants at the inaugural Night of Distinction, the University of Central Arkansas Alumni Association will be awarding more private scholarships.

Caleb Dickson, vice president of the Association of Future Alumni, announced at the gala that the Alumni 100 fundraising effort had surpassed its goal with more than $113,000 that will support privately funded scholarships awarded by the alumni association.

The fundraising effort was pushed over the top with a closeout gift from Karen Sullards of Little Rock. The 1972 graduate’s family is also the namesake of one of the six scholarships that was endowed at the event.

"I am truly grateful for each and every one of our sponsors and participants who came through for our students and helped us not only reach, but surpass, our goal for these scholarships," said UCA President Allen C. Meadors. "Night of Distinction was a success because everyone got on board with this idea to begin a new tradition at UCA and help us make a difference in the lives of our students.

“Our alumni, friends, faculty, staff and students believe in this university, and they showed it. I hope even more will join us next May."

Night of Distinction was the first fundraising gala to be hosted by UCA, its foundation and alumni association. In honor of the 100-year anniversary of the alumni association, established in 1911, proceeds from the event benefitted the Alumni 100 Fund, which was dedicated to fully endowing the remaining six alumni association scholarship funds. Seven additional scholarships had already been endowed at the $25,000 level.

“The funds raised during the Night of Distinction have substantially impacted the UCA Alumni Association’s scholarship program as well as the lives of UCA students, but we’re not ready to quit,” said Jan Newcomer, director of Alumni Services. “During this anniversary year, the alumni association will continue its fundraising efforts through our 2011 homecoming celebration, because every dollar raised will allow us to help more students.”

In addition to celebrating the success of endowing all alumni association scholarships, the gala served as an occasion to recognize recipients of the awards of distinction. The 2011 Alumni Service Award was presented to Dr. Audie Lynch of Conway. A 1947 graduate, Lynch is a retired UCA faculty member, former alumni association board members and longtime volunteer and supporter.

The 2011 Distinguished Alumnus Award was presented posthumously to Dr. Jefferson D. Farris Jr., a 1949 graduate who became the sixth president of UCA and the second alumnus to rise to the helm; and Melvin “Ralph” Carruth Jr., a 1975 graduate who resides in Huntsville, Ala., where he serves as associate director of engineering at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.