by Max Brantley
Arkansas State University this afternoon will announce the largest endowment gift in the school's history.
And Gus Malzahn hasn't coached a game yet.
UPDATE: The gift of $5 million for a scholarship endowment comes from a 1948 graduate, Neil Griffin, a financier who lives in Kerrville, Texas. Scholarships will go to well-qualified entering freshmen from Arkansas or Missouri and also may be used to pay for study abroad by upperclassmen.
He's known as philanthropist. A building at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston is named for him.
Arkansas State University has announced the largest endowment donation in its history – a $5 million estate gift from alumnus F. O’Neil “Neil” Griffin to establish the Griffin Scholars Endowment Fund. ASU chancellor Tim Hudsonannounced the gift Wednesday in a special gathering in the Cooper Alumni Center on the ASU campus.
“Many of ASU’s dreams and our future students’ dreams will be realized thanks to the generous gift from Neil Griffin. The faculty, staff, students and alumni join me in thanking Neil for his commitment to his alma mater,” said Hudson. “This gift is another indication the future is bright and our alumni are energized to support taking our university to a new level. Future generations of Arkansans and Missourians will be indebted to Neil’s vision.”
Griffin, originally from the Needham Community between Jonesboro and Bowman, is a 1948 ASU graduate with a bachelor of science degree in business administration. His career has included professional accounting, banking, investment banking, and CEO of two publically held corporations. He is now semi-retired and resides in Kerrville, Texas, where he is primarily engaged in philanthropy and investments. He and his family foundation have been major contributors to college scholarship programs, cancer treatment and research, fine arts and numerous other causes across the United States.
“Having grown up in the Jonesboro area and attended Nettleton High School, I am well aware of the importance of Arkansas State in the Arkansas/Southeast Missouri region,” said Griffin. “I have been blessed beyond any dream I could have had and to give back is a strongly held principle of my life. Providingeducational opportunities for deserving young people is my passion. As the first member on both sides of myfamily to attend college, I will always be grateful to my scholarship – the GI Bill – that made it possible for me to attend college and graduate school. It made it possible for me to pursue the American dream in this great ‘Land of Opportunity.’ I am proud to have my name associated with ASU.”
A Griffin Scholar will be awarded to incoming freshmen on the ASU campus in Jonesboro. The amount of the scholarship fund is for tuition, fees, on-campus housing and books for up to 18 credit hours per semester. A stipend is available for junior and senior year students to study abroad for a semester.
“This is a historic gift for Arkansas State University. It is the largest endowed gift in our institution’s history,” said vice chancellor for university advancement Cristian Murdock. “This generous gift will allow students in Arkansas and parts of Missouri to attend ASU, spend a semester abroad, and then be positioned to enter graduate school or the workforce and make a tremendous difference. It is even more touching that Pell Grant eligible students are given first priority for the Griffin Scholars.”
In order to qualify to be a Griffin Scholar, students must be permanent residents of the state of Arkansas or a permanent resident of the followingcounties in Missouri: Bollinger, Butler, Cape Girardeau, Carter, Dent, Dunklin, Howell, Iron, Madison, Mississippi, New Madrid, Oregon, Pemiscot, Reynolds,Ripley, Scott, Stoddard, Shannon, Texas or Wayne.
The first preference for a Griffin Scholar is a student with an ACT score of 30 and above, with the second preference going to students with an ACT score of 27-29. Sensitivity of the financial needs of the students’ families, especially Pell Grant eligible students, will be strongly considered.