Hendrix receives largest gift in its history

$26 million to support scholarships, affordability, welcome center

Hendrix College announced Aug. 26 that it has received a $26 million gift from the estate of Mary Ann Dawkins of Little Rock. The gift, the largest in the United Methodist-related college’s history, will support scholarships, promote college affordability and launch a fundraising effort to construct a new welcome center at the northeast corner of the campus.

“Not only is today’s announcement a historic moment for Hendrix, it’s an incredible moment for future students,” said Hendrix College president Bill Tsutsui.

Dawkins, a United Methodist, passed away in December 2014. In 1986, she attended a performance of the Hendrix College Choir’s Candlelight Carol Service at First United Methodist Church North Little Rock. Following the performance, she was inspired to establish the Dr. David and Mary Ann Dawkins Endowed Scholarship Fund at Hendrix in memory of her late husband, Dr. David Dawkins.

Dawkins retired from Coulson Oil Company, founded by her parents, after 41 years. She served as corporate secretary and previously served on the board of directors at Coulson Oil. She was on the boards of the Arkansas Oil Marketers Association and Mid-South Make-A-Wish Foundation and was a Special Olympics supporter.

“We are grateful, honored and humbled by Mary Ann Dawkins’ extraordinary generosity,” Tsutsui said. “This gift will help us continue to attract bright and talented students and keep the world-class liberal arts education and student experience at Hendrix within reach of all young people and their families.”

In the past 10 years, Hendrix has increased the annual amount of student scholarships and financial assistance from $6 million to $36 million. Earlier this year, Hendrix created the Hendrix Arkansas Advantage financial assistance program for Arkansas high school students. The College also established partnerships with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) Delta Public Schools to create new scholarship opportunities for Latino/Latina students and students from the Arkansas Delta.

“The Hendrix Arkansas Advantage and our new partnerships with LULAC and KIPP Delta have energized our community,” said David Knight, chair of the Hendrix College board of trustees. “This gift will build upon the momentum of the past year and will inspire us to continue our ongoing commitment to keep Hendrix accessible and affordable for future students.”

Before the Dawkins estate gift, the previous largest gift to Hendrix was a $10.985 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation in 1998, which was used to complete a comprehensive renovation of science teaching and research facilities and to construct the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Life Sciences.

With Dawkins’ gift, the Hendrix endowment will surpass $200 million for the first time in the institution’s history.