Larry & Gwen Stephens:
Larry Stephens and his wife, Gwen, of Hot Springs have been giving to the university for 32 years. As loyal Razorback fans, the couple enjoys traveling with friends who are Road Hogs (people who travel to sporting events in RVs to support the University of Arkansas).
Larry and Gwen consider the University of Arkansas to be their home away from home. "We are a University of Arkansas family," said Larry, a 1958 graduate of the College of Engineering. "Both of our children graduated from the university, and we are all connected in business and personal relationships to friends we met during our time there. The campus is a fun place to be at any time of the year, but more specifically, the university gave us a good education that makes us want to give something back in return."
The Stephenses want their gifts to assist with student educational opportunities whether in the form of scholarships, lab equipment or instructor salaries. They want the university to grow its reputation across the nation and around the world, all the while providing students with the best education possible so they are able to secure high-quality job opportunities after graduation.
"All of my memories of the university are fond," Larry said. "From the fraternity house and sporting events to difficult engineering courses and graduation day, I cherish the time I was a student. I can see the value these experiences had on the rest of my life.
"We are most familiar with the leadership in the College of Engineering and the advancements that have been made there the past few years," he continued. "This kind of progress can only be made with financial support, large or small, from our alumni."
Ron & Betty Morris:
Ron (B.S.I.E., 1958) and Betty (B.A., 1959) Morris of Dallas believe in education and want to help deserving young people who rely on financial assistance to obtain a college degree. Their recent gifts totaling $500,000 will help many students at the University of Arkansas for years to come.
Although the couple has funded many scholarships already within the University, one of the new endowments carries special meaning. The Ben Gray Scholarship was created in honor of the father of the couple's daughter-in-law, Debbie Morris. Funds will be awarded to graduates of high schools in Marion or Baxter Counties in Arkansas.
"Ben grew up in a family with ten children and experienced the harsh reality of poverty," said Ron Morris. "He was also limited by a very serious heart defect. The combination of these circumstances made it impossible for him to earn a high school education, much less attend college. When he became a parent, Ben insisted that his five children focus on education, and they all did exactly that." Two of his children, David Gray and Debbie Gray Morris, graduated from The University of Arkansas.
Gray passed away in 1991, but the importance he placed on education has lived on through his 10 grandchildren, eight of whom have pursued a college education. The youngest two are thriving in high school and making plans to attend college. One granddaughter graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2008 and another in 2010.
"This scholarship will allow Ben's legacy to continue not just within his family, but it will also give the opportunity to other young people to achieve a dream and to live a life he was unable to live," said Ron Morris. "We hope he would have been very proud to see his name on this scholarship."
The remaining portion of the Morris' generous gift will fund the Ron and Betty Morris Scholarships, designated for students from Arkansas. In addition to the two new funds, the Morris Scholarships include the Jack and Jessie Morris Scholarship, the Lee and Wilma Douglas Scholarship, the Ron and Betty Morris AAIE Endowed Scholarship and the Guie Morris Honors Scholarships.