Gala raises more than $83,000 for Henderson

Henderson State University celebrated its 125th Anniversary with a spectacular gala April 23 at the Hot Springs convention center. Almost 600 guests attended the event that raised more than $83,000 for scholarships awarded through the Henderson Foundation.

“We exceeded our expectations,” said Jennifer Boyett, vice president for university advancement. “This is something unlike we’ve ever done at Henderson. I think the response was so overwhelmingly positive that numerous alumni and friends hope we’ll make this a tradition.”

Boyett said the generous financial support will enhance Henderson’s general academic scholarship endowment designed to provide aid to students with great financial need and who demonstrate a propensity to succeed.

Henderson alumnus James Barnes and his wife Terry pledged $1.25 for every living Henderson alumnus in commemoration of the university’s anniversary, Boyett said.

“James came up with a great idea, and we are very grateful,” she said. “Their contribution alone totaled $30,000.”

Entergy Arkansas Inc., Summit Healthcare Providers, and Southern Bancorp provided platinum sponsorships for the event. Gold sponsors were BBA Solutions and Huffman & Co., Charles and Anita Cabe, Horizon Capital Partners, and SCM Architects. A total of 58 tables were sponsored.

Shannon Curtin, a 1999 Henderson graduate, served as master of ceremonies. Curtin is an accomplished business executive who created a consulting firm specializing in assisting retailers, manufacturers, and private equity firms with strategic planning.

The gala program included a 125th Anniversary tribute, donor perspectives, student stories, a message from Henderson President Glen Jones, and a variety of entertainment performed by Henderson students.

“I just can’t say enough about our students,” Boyett said. “Our music, dance, and theatre students, along with the art students who shared their works, were second to none.”

Boyett also commended alumni donors Larry Williams and Matt Vines for their inspirational presentations and for challenging alumni to “give back” to Henderson.

Student speakers Itzela Cruz and Elijah Sullivan were “shining examples of the types of students we want to support,” Boyett said.

The Henderson Foundation continues to accept donations.

“We want to keep building the general academic scholarship endowment, and we welcome any other way that alumni and friends of the university would like to contribute,” Boyett said. “Several have reached out with a desire to start a scholarship to honor a family member or a friend.”

Contact the Henderson Foundation at 870-230-5347.

“Our students need the support,” Boyett said. “We are very grateful for everyone who gives back.”

As Henderson anticipates less support from the state in meeting the educational needs of its students, the university’s strategic plan is focusing on alumni giving and other sources of revenue including a comprehensive fundraising campaign and doubling the university’s endowment.