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story.lead_photo.caption University of Arkansas students are shown on the lawn in front of Old Main on the campus in Fayetteville in this file photo. ( NWA Democrat-Gazette file photo / David Gottschalk)

A new academic center devoted to financial risk management in agriculture and other industries will be created through a $10 million gift to the University of Arkansas System from the family foundation established by Ed Fryar, founder of a poultry processing company, and his wife, Michelle.

“This gift lays the groundwork for the University of Arkansas System to become a global leader for risk management research, education and outreach,” UA System President Donald Bobbitt said in a statement.

The Fryar Price Risk Management Center of Excellence will have a focus on behavioral and traditional economic theories relating to the management of agriculture commodities — goods including corn and other crops that can be sold in financial marketplaces — as well as improving risk management for other sectors such as energy, according to the announcement Thursday by the UA System.

“We envision building this center on our already successful model that draws on industry expertise to inspire teaching and research on timely applied risk management topics,” Bobbitt said.

The gift from the Fryar Family Charitable Foundation will be co-managed by the UA System Division of Agriculture and the UA-Fayetteville Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.

The funds will also establish the Fryar Endowed Professorship in Applied Price Risk Management.

Ed Fryar in 2000 co-founded Ozark Mountain Poultry. He served as the company’s board chairman at the time it was sold in 2018 to George’s Inc.

In 2019, Fryar began a 10-year term on the University of Arkansas board of trustees. He was appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Fryar worked as an agricultural economics professor at UA-Fayetteville from 1982 to 1994. Ed Fryar and Michelle Fryar, who live in Rogers, both earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UA-Fayetteville.

“Our family roots run deep in Arkansas and the University of Arkansas,” Ed Fryar said in a statement. “This endowment is an opportunity to repay the University for all that it has given us. Price risk management plays an important role in the success or failure of many farms and companies.”


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