Neil Griffin To Receive Honorary Doctoral Degree
JONESBORO – Neil Griffin, a graduate and generous philanthropic supporter of Arkansas State University, will join an elite group of alumni when he receives an honorary doctoral degree during A-State’s spring commencement ceremony, Saturday, May 12, in the First National Bank Arena. The honorary degree will be presented during the afternoon ceremony at 2:30 p.m. The ASU Board of Trustees voted to confer the Doctor of Humane Letters degree in recognition of Griffin’s contributions to higher education.
On April 3, Griffin made a historic $10 million gift to his alma mater. In recognition of the largest individual gift to an academic program, the ASU Board of Trustees renamed the business college as the Neil Griffin College of Business. The board voted unanimously to bestow the honor on the 1948 alumnus of Arkansas State.
The $10 million gift will endow a range of scholarships, professorships and enhancement funds for the operations of the college. In addition, Griffin has made provisions for a follow-on estate gift that will provide significant future enhancements.
“Growing up in the Jonesboro area and attending Nettleton High School, I am well aware of the importance of Arkansas State to this region,” Griffin said at the endowment ceremony. “I have been blessed beyond any dream I could have had as a young man attending ASU, and I firmly believe in the need to give back to those who helped you along the way.”
Among the individual areas established through the Griffin gift are three chairs or professorships: the H. B. Foster Bowdon Chair of Accounting, the Neil Griffin Dean of Business and the Neil Griffin Professor of Entrepreneurship. The endowment creates new Griffin Scholarships for students in the college, the Griffin Student Investment Fund for use by students in the university’s wealth management programs, and the Gena Griffin International Travel Fund, in recognition of Griffin’s wife.
Finally, to ensure the ability to maintain a high level of excellence within the college, a Griffin Excellence Fund will provide discretionary funds for the new Griffin Dean of Business.
A Naval veteran of the Pacific theater, Griffin was a native of Needham Community near Jonesboro, and enrolled at then Arkansas State College after his discharge. Graduating with his degree in business administration in 1948, he began his career in professional accounting, moving on into banking, investment banking and CEO of two publically held corporations.
Now semi-retired and residing in Kerrville, Texas, Griffin is engaged primarily in philanthropy and angel investing with emerging industries. He and his family have been major contributors in the past to Arkansas State, initiating a scholarship endowment of $5 million in 2012, as well as to cancer treatment and research, fine arts and numerous other causes across the U.S.
Griffin becomes the 18threcipient of an honorary doctorate awarded by Arkansas State in a tradition that dates back to May 14, 1934, when U.S. Senator Hattie Caraway became the first. Prospective candidates for the degree are reviewed by the Honorary Doctorate Committee, which makes recommendations to the chancellor regarding award of the degree. The chancellor may forward this recommendation to the President and Board of Trustees. Honorary Doctorates are awarded only with approval of the Board of Trustees.
Previous recipients of honorary doctoral degrees at Arkansas State are:
U.S. Senator Hattie Caraway — May 14, 1934
Governor Carl E. Bailey — May 16, 1938
Mr. Victor C. Kays — May 25, 1956
Mr. John A. Cooper — May 14, 1982
Mr. R. E. Lee Wilson IV — May 14, 1982
Mr. Herbert H. McAdams — May 11, 1984
Mr. Ben Owens — May 10, 1991
The Honorable Sheikh Hamad I. Al-Rashudi — May 8, 1992
Mr. John W. Troutt Jr. — May 8, 1992
Mr. Paul W. Klipsch — May 12, 1995
Mr. Townsend Wolfe — May 10, 2002
Dr. C. Calvin Smith — May 6, 2005
Governor Mike Beebe — May 5, 2007
Charlotte V. Beck — May 9, 2009
Congressman Marion Berry — May 8, 2010
Albert Austin “Sonny” Burgess — May 7, 2011
Robert M. “Bob” Wood — Dec. 10, 2016