Lights, Love, and Loyalty: A Campaign for Southern Arkansas University

The excitement of trapshooting and disc golf, the wizardry of 3D printing and the dazzle of rockets at liftoff greeted alumni and friends on Friday, December 6, as Southern Arkansas University opened the public phase of the Love and Loyalty Campaign.

Love and Loyalty is SAU’s most ambitious fundraising initiative, aiming to raise $22 million in five years. It seeks to secure the future for SAU, strengthening the University’s commitment to affordability and innovation. A celebration of SAU’s achievements as well as its extraordinary potential was held on Saturday, December 7, on the Campus Mall. Dr. Trey Berry, president, welcomed distinguished guests to the “hallowed ground” of SAU, urging them to look ahead to future generations.

A full slate of interactive activities on Friday highlighted the technology and quality of instruction available campus-wide. Nursing simulations were held in the Wharton Nursing Building; the Theatre Department gave an encore presentation of Little Women, and students shared the advantages of internship opportunities. Alumni and friends also toured the new President’s Home with SAU’s First Lady, Dr. Katherine Berry.

At the Norvell-Cook Engineering Center, alumni were treated to student demonstrations of 3D printing and participated in a rocket launch behind the building. Shuttles transported guests to the new Farmers Bank & Trust Trapshooting Facility on Laney Farm, where Coach Steve Crowell and members of the Trap Team provided hands-on instruction. Guests exulted as they pulled the trigger on their shotguns, getting a taste of one of SAU’s most exciting new programs.

One of the campus’ more unique features, the Disc Golf Course, got a workout as visitors were invited to tee off with members of the 2019 Championship Disc Golf Team. Another innovative program was spotlighted when guests received instruction in gaming technology in the new Gaming Lab in the Reynolds Center rotunda. Faculty and students were on hand to answer questions and guide guests through the technical aspects of this popular and cutting-edge program.

Representatives of SAU Housing took visitors through the new Columbia Hall, where alumni remarked on the comfort, safety and privacy features available to student residents. In the W.T. Watson Gymnasium, Athletic Training students demonstrated their skills, and in the Mulerider Activity Center, research posters exhibited scholarly talents across an array of disciplines.

Education major Jalen Holland was among the students who shared their internship experiences during a presentation at Foundation Hall. He earned an eight-week internship as a teacher’s assistant through the New York City Department of Education, bonding with a diverse group of students.

A Jazz Brunch was held in the SAU Alumni Center where guests mingled with faculty and administrators to discuss the topic on everyone’s mind during those two fun and informative days – SAU’s future.

Igniting the Light

Saturday, in a pavilion on the Campus Mall, the importance of giving was driven home by speakers focusing on their personal experiences at SAU. They shared humorous memories emphasizing the quality of education they received.

Beth Galway, a 1984 alumna and an officer of the SAU Alumni Association Board of Directors, asked those gathered to think about the impact of SAU on all their lives. In applying for a position with Price-Waterhouse upon graduating from SAU, Galway said she wondered how her education would “stack up” against competitors from across the country. “It did really well,” she said. “I’ve never felt like I didn’t get the best education possible.”

Joan Dempsey, a 1981 alumna, said she always loved reminding her colleagues in Washington, D.C., that she was “the product of 18 years in the Arkansas public school system. These institutions defined my professional worth and reinforced the values I learned at home. I owe an enormous debt to the faculty and staff here.”

She announced a new endowment in the name of her father, James Riddle (’61).

Theatre major Eboni Edwards shared her experiences on SAU-sponsored trips to New York City, where she and her fellow students got to experience life in the “real world” of professional theatre. “No matter the career plan, scholarships are the path to career success,” she said. “They help us prepare for the next step in life and expand our education beyond the classroom.”

Ron LeMay, a 1967 graduate of Southern State College, spoke warmly of the transformational aspect of philanthropy. “It not only changes lives, it changes you, the giver,” he said. “I want to secure the advantages I enjoyed for future generations. I am deeply grateful to SAU.”

Ron Harrell, a 1956 alumnus of Southern State, was joined at the podium by a group of children representing future Muleriders. He reminded the audience that they are not only the future of SAU, but that of the country.

Dr. Abdel Bachri, dean of the College of Science and Engineering, related numerous student success stories he has witnessed firsthand since joining SAU in 2007. “It’s all about the students,” he enthused. “Our supporters are stepping up to provide the tools necessary for students to pursue rewarding careers.”

Raising aloft the minutes of the first Board of Trustees meeting in 1909, Dr. Trey Berry said SAU’s successes result from those who came before. “For 110 years, generations of lives have been changed by interactions on this campus — this hallowed ground,” he said. “What will they say about all of us 110 years from now?”

To learn more about the Love and Loyalty Campaign and how you can join this effort, please visit

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