New VP: 2014, 2015 big years for Henderson State

Published February 9, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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ARKADELPHIA — Jennifer Boyette has been vice president of university advancement at Henderson State University since Oct. 15, and she said the next two years will be busy and exciting for her and the entire campus, alumni and the community.

‘We are working toward the university’s first comprehensive campaign,” she said last week. “We have no time line when it will

begin or end, and no numbers for the goals we will set, but it will be tied to our 125th anniversary in 2015.”

A comprehensive campaign is a fundraising drive that can last several years and will serve the entire university. Such a campaign could target student services and academic programs, as well as facilities and scholarships. The University of Arkansas at Little Rock completed its first comprehensive campaign, a seven-year campaign, in 2012 and raised $103.6 million in contributions and pledges.

Boyette is also executive director of the Henderson State University Foundation.

“It’s a dual role that lets me work on the state side of funding and in the private sector,” she said. “I love the work of advancement in supporting students and faculty in higher education. It will be my job to engage alumni and donors and inspire them to give.”

Boyette said she will let potential donors know about the good work going on at the Arkadelphia campus. She gave an example of how the school’s foundation can offer aid when nothing else is available.

“One of our students lost his scholarship and could not afford to be here,” she said. “One of his professors asked if there was anything that could be done to keep the good student on campus and enrolled. The foundation had the ability to provide the support he needed so he can finish his degree.”

“The [foundation] board looks forward to working with Jennifer about her role in carrying out our vision for the foundation,” said Billy Tarpley, chairman of the HSU Foundation Board of Directors.

The new Henderson vice president came from Conway, where she worked with the advancement division of the University of Central Arkansas for 12 years. Most recently, she was executive director of development at the school.

“Last summer, I got a call from a friend who told me about a job opportunity in Arkadelphia,” Boyette said. “I was working at my alma mater, and I was not looking for a change.”

Yet, encouraged to apply, she looked for more information.

“I looked at the map and saw it was close to DeGray Lake, so my husband was on board,” she said. “I talked with [Henderson State President] Dr. [Glen] Jones and visited the campus, and it seemed from the beginning that I never had a moment’s hesitation.”

Now living in Arkadelphia, Boyette said she likes the small-town feel of the city.

“It reminds my husband and me of Conway when we were children,” she said.

This month is the 100th anniversary of a fire that destroyed the main building of what was then known as Henderson-Brown College. Boyette said the stories surrounding the fire are part of her inspiration to gather funds and friends to the university.

“I was told that after the fire, they were talking about closing the school and sending students home,” Boyette said. “But Michael Smith, the chief cook and a local businessman in Arkadelphia, offered $25 to [help] rebuild the school. That was a beginning.”

Boyette said the students and the community working together was the beginning of the Reddie Spirit, when the students decided, even while the fire was still burning, to stay with the school as it was being rebuilt.

We will be meeting new people and telling them about that spirit that lives today at Henderson,” Boyette said. “My job is to help make a good university a great one.”

Boyette holds a degree in journalism from UCA and a master’s degree in journalism from UALR. She began working at UCA in the communications department after graduating from there in 2001.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or at wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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