The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

How to Turn $4,000 into $50,000

This year’s recipient of CUPA-HR’s highest honor, the Donald E. Dickason Award, was Barbara Taylor. Barbara recently retired from her role as Associate Vice Chancellor for HR at the University of Arkansas. In addition to a wonderful momento of acknowledgment that I am sure is displayed on her bookshelf, the University of Arkansas receives a $4000 award for its endowment. Barbara asked that this $4000 be designated to the University of Arkansas Staff Scholarship Fund.

Here’s the text of Barbara’s email regarding how this $4,000 contribution became $50,000. TIAA-CREF is the sponsor of our this award, so Barbara’s email is to Kay McFarlin at TIAA-CREF. Thanks to Barbara for the incredible story and thanks to TIAA-CREF for sponsoring this very special award.


I asked that the $4,000 TIAA-CREF contributed go to the University of Arkansas Staff Scholarship fund.  About ten years ago, the Staff Senate  (which, by the way, is an unusually strong player in our campus’ shared governance – strong because they’ve earned it by being perceptive, wise and responsible) started awarding small but important scholarships to full-time staff who are pursuing University degrees and who need financial help.

A little more than five years ago, one of the Senators proposed raising enough money to create an endowment to assure that some of the scholarships would be awarded in perpetuity.  There were a lot of elements to the campaign, including asking Senators to contribute, suggesting they request that their constituents contribute, and (one of the most successful) a “Give Me 5” campaign requesting that staff members and interested faculty, too, pledge $5 a month, to be deducted from their paychecks and to go to the endowment.  (See the logo, below.)

At the time the endowment was proposed, the Staff Senate estimated that it would take about ten years to reach the endowment goal of $25,000.  They were already doing much better than anticipated when I retired, and I chose to decline a retirement party, and request that the money that would have been spent go instead to Staff Senate Scholarships.  Several months later, when I had the honor of receiving the Dickason Award, I  asked that your gift also go to the endowment fund.  That brought the fund within $2,500 of the goal.  A Staff Senate member then made a generous challenge grant, offering to match up to $1,250 contributed.  That challenge was met quickly, and the Staff Senate President told the Chancellor (who used to be a Vice Chancellor and then Vice President for Development) the good news.

He decided to invite current Staff Senators and former Senators who had been involved in the campaign to an evening celebration at the Chancellor’s house.  I was invited, and during the speech-making part of the party, received the wonderful and unexpected news that an endowed Staff Scholarship would be named in my honor.  Stunned, I made an impromptu thank-you speech.  I had no sooner finished than the Chancellor spoke, adding his congratulations and making the flabbergasting announcement that he, the Provost, the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration and the Vice Chancellor for University Advancement had decided to match the Staff Senate’s efforts, contributing an additional $25,000 over the next three years!

There were, literally, tears of joy among the Senators.  We were all amazed.  And we also agreed quickly that it was very much the right thing to do on the part of the administration.  The administrative funds, of course, will come back to the University, but what an amazing gesture of confidence and support for the Staff Senate!

So this is the story of how TIAA-CREF’s $4,000 contribution to the University of Arkansas became $50,000!  I hope it gives you as much pleasure to hear the story as I have experienced in being part of it.

Thank you with all my heart,


Barbara G. Taylor