McNeill

Mike McNeill is publisher and editor of magnoliareporter.com.

Southern Arkansas University deserves congratulations on the completion of its successful “Love and Loyalty” campaign. The five-year campaign raised almost $30 million, or more than $7 million above its goal. Great things are made possible by such campaigns, including new scholarships, facilities and academic programs. But we want to salute the money raised to create 17 endowed faculty positions, an endowed Dean’s Chair, and an endowed Department Chair. A university is distinguished by outstanding faculty, and a competitive university has to be willing to compensate the best.

The Love and Loyalty campaign notes that 4,188 donors gave 17,023 gifts to hit $29.67 million. That’s great, but people have already commented on the single $50 million gift that went to the University of Chicago last week from the estate of a South Arkansas man. The late Arley D. Cathey of El Dorado, who made his money through selling butane gas and real estate, was a graduate of UChicago.

We’d never heard Mr. Cathey’s name until last week and that’s unfortunate, because everyone loves stories about quietly wealthy people who make grand post-mortem gestures. Reader’s Digest recently published an article on this topic by Juliana LaBianca, “These People Donated Millions After They Died – But No One Knew They Were Rich.” A few examples. Leonard Gigowski, a janitor at St. Thomas More High in Milwaukee, left a $13 million scholarship fund to the school. Margaret Southern, a special-needs teacher in South Carolina, left $4.2 million to the Greenville Humane Society. Most people in Brattleboro, Vermont took Ronald Read, who worked as a gas station attendant and a department store janitor, to be a pauper. Until he died and left $5 million of his $8 million estate to the local hospital.

Construction has begun at the site of a new Whataburger restaurant on the bypass, between Carter Federal Credit Union and Immanuel Baptist Church. Earth is being moved and the concrete pad can’t be far behind. You ought to be able to get your avocado bacon burger by New Year’s Day. We’re told the construction value of the restaurant will pop up in October’s building permits. The city’s building permit values need a pop. The city has issued less than $2 million in permits this year, as opposed to more than $5 million at this time last year.

That’s so 80s.

Mike McNeill is publisher and editor of magnoliareporter.com. Email him at news@magnoliareporter.com or call him at 870-904-3865.

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