We've written often before about the investment Murphy Oil has made in hometown El Dorado -- not only by staying there, which is not insignificant -- but by pouring support into the public schools and an education foundation that serves El Dorado. A math specialist, cash incentives for high-achieving students and a general commitment to preserving the city school district have distinguished the oil company's effort, among others.
The company took a quantum leap forward today by announcing a commitment to provide college scholarships for all El Dorado high school graduates for the next 20 years, up to $50 million. Students will be reimbursed on a sliding scale based on the number of years they attended El Dorado schools, up to the highest tuition at an Arkansas public university, though they can also take the money out of state. The offer is currently worth about $6,000 per semester year.
Claiborne Deming, Murphy CEO, has been a driving force behind the Murphy investment in education and has served on the state Board of Education.
Superintendent Bob Watson said students, when told of the program this morning, were "elated, to put it mildy." The program takes effect immediately. The high school averages about 250 graduates a year. You must have attended at least four years in El Dorado to be eligible.
Key points: The scholarships require only a diploma, not a certain gradepoint or a demonstration of need. You can read all about the El Dorado Promise program here.
PS -- A reader wonders if this development might make the folks in white-flight land, such as Parkers Chapel, more amenable to consolidation with El Dorado.
Don't you wish you lived in El Dorado?