$100 mil­lion goes to UA’s think tank

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - ALEX GLADDEN

PETIT JEAN MOUN­TAIN — A non­profit that man­ages Univer­sity of Arkansas Sys­tem in­vest­ments will over­see more than $100 mil­lion that will pro­vide a long-term source of money for the Winthrop Rock­e­feller In­sti­tute.

The Winthrop Rock­e­feller In­sti­tute, a part of the UA Sys­tem, brings to­gether ex­perts to brain­storm so­lu­tions to is­sues fac­ing Arkansans. The in­sti­tute pre­vi­ously re­ceived an­nual fund­ing from the Winthrop Rock­e­feller Char­i­ta­ble Trust that or­ga­nized the money Winthrop Rock­e­feller — a for­mer Arkansas gover­nor — left for char­i­ties af­ter his death, said Nate Hinkel, di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the UA Sys­tem.

But af­ter the trust do­nated an en­dow­ment of $100 mil­lion to the Univer­sity of

Arkansas Foun­da­tion, which con­trolled $973,301,041 of the UA Sys­tem’s in­vest­ments from 2016 to 2017, the foun­da­tion will pick up fund­ing the in­sti­tute.

This move will al­low the in­sti­tute to cre­ate long-term plans to tackle larger prob­lems, UA Sys­tem Pres­i­dent Don­ald Bob­bitt said. Pre­vi­ously, the in­sti­tute re­lied on an­nual grants, but now it will have a con­sis­tent stream of money, as the foun­da­tion will take the en­dow­ment and in­vest

it, por­tion­ing out a yearly per­cent­age for the in­sti­tute, said Marta Loyd, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the in­sti­tute.

“It doesn’t give you the com­fort of sched­ul­ing things two or three years out,” Bob­bitt said of the in­sti­tute’s pre­vi­ous de­pen­dency on an­nual grants.

On a prac­ti­cal level, the in­sti­tute will be able to reach more na­tional ex­perts, many of whom re­quire a year’s no­tice to meet, Bob­bitt said. But the in­sti­tute’s day-to-day op­er­a­tion will not sig­nif­i­cantly change, Loyd said.

“Things will con­tinue as they have been be­cause things have been go­ing well,” Bob­bitt said.

Trustees will now phase out the Winthrop Rock­e­feller Char­i­ta­ble Trust, as Rock­e­feller never meant for the trust to be a per­ma­nent stew­ard of the money, Loyd said.

The trust started out with $67 mil­lion that Rock­e­feller des­ig­nated upon his death in 1973, Ex­ec­u­tive Trustee Mar­ion Bur­ton said. The trust grew the money through in­vest­ments and even­tu­ally do­nated $247 mil­lion to char­i­ties mostly aimed at help­ing Arkansans.

With an ini­tial grant from the trust, the Winthrop Rock­e­feller In­sti­tute be­gan in 2005, Bur­ton said. It im­me­di­ately be­came a part of the UA Sys­tem.

“My fam­ily and I are proud of my grand­fa­ther’s le­gacy,” Rock­e­feller’s grand­son Will Rock­e­feller said.

Winthrop Rock­e­feller, one of six chil­dren born to oil­man John D. Rock­e­feller Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rock­e­feller, was Arkansas’ 37th gover­nor. He moved to Arkansas af­ter vis­it­ing a friend in Lit­tle Rock in 1953, later pur­chas­ing land on Petit Jean Moun­tain where he made his home. He worked on eco­nomic devel­op­ment is­sues in for­mer Gov. Or­val Faubus’ ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Even­tu­ally, Rock­e­feller en­tered pol­i­tics. He ran for gover­nor as a Repub­li­can twice. The first time, he lost to Faubus in the 1964 elec­tion. The sec­ond time, in the 1966 elec­tion, Rock­e­feller de­feated Demo­crat Jim John­son, for gover­nor. Rock­e­feller served as gover­nor for two con­sec­u­tive terms, from 1967-1971, fo­cus­ing on, among other things, ed­u­ca­tion, prisons, civil rights and eco­nomic devel­op­ment.

He died of can­cer at age 60 in Palm Springs, Calif., in Fe­bru­ary 1973. Rock­e­feller was cre­mated and his ashes re­turned to Petit Jean Moun­tain. A great por­tion of his wealth was di­vided be­tween the char­i­ta­ble trust and the Winthrop Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion.

The in­sti­tute will have three events in 2018, in­clud­ing an event geared to­ward med­i­cal stu­dents, fo­cus­ing on what they look for in ru­ral physi­cian po­si­tions, said Janet Har­ris, the chief pro­gram and mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer for the in­sti­tute.

Har­ris said the in­sti­tute will con­tinue to build on its work in the past and use this con­stant source of money to cre­ate projects in the fu­ture.

“It’s an in­vest­ment of faith,” Loyd said.

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