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Mike Gibson and Judd Hill Foundation Establish Student Research and Innovation Endowment at A-State


JONESBORO – A former member of the Arkansas State University Board of Trustees has completed a $1,000,000 gift to Arkansas State and announced the commitment toward a new $1,000,000 gift to support agricultural research.

Through the Judd Hill Foundation Trust, Board Trustee Emeritus Mike Gibson is establishing the Judd Hill Student Research and Innovation Endowment, which complements his previous Judd Hill Agricultural Faculty Excellence Fund.

Founded by the late Esther Chapin, the Judd Hill Foundation has partnered with Arkansas State for over 25 years in numerous research projects.

“As Trustee of the Judd Hill Foundation, I am proud to have partnered with Arkansas State University, my alma mater, for more than a quarter century in numerous research and educational programs,” Gibson said.  “I am very privileged to have the opportunity, on behalf of the Judd Hill Foundation, to make this $1,000,000 gift to the ASU System Foundation to support their vision. “

“A university’s commitment to research is important, but funding to support faculty and student research both in our laboratories and in the field is the fuel that makes it happen,” Chancellor Kelly Damphousse said.  “The vision and support of individuals like Mike Gibson and organizations like the Judd Hill Foundation are essential to Arkansas State’s ability to serve our community and region as a Carnegie R-2 research institution.  Today we can only imagine what improvements to our ability to feed and clothe the world will be borne from his support of basic and applied research in our College of Agriculture.”

The new $1,000,000 commitment will strengthen undergraduate and graduate research work in the College of Agriculture, specifically providing monetary support for research into the essential crops grown in the upper Delta region.   The gift both provides immediate funds that can be used for research work as well as funding the endowment.

“There are three essential components for successful student-based academic research – the faculty mentor, the student investigator and the necessary materials to accomplish the project,” Dean of Agriculture Tim Burcham said.  “This endowment will help secure essential materials (equipment, instrumentation, software, etc.) to effectively complete student-based research. This generous gift allows for practical, boots-on-the-ground, research work that will be beneficial for supporting and sustaining agricultural production in the Arkansas Delta.  It is the perfect complement to Mr. Gibson’s previous faculty research support gift.”

“In an ever-changing world of agriculture, innovation is essential,” ASU System President Charles L. Welch said.  “I am grateful to Mike as our chairman emeritus of the board, and his leadership, generosity and service to the ASU System are apparent in these two gifts.  From his time as a student body president at A-State through his leadership of the system board, he has had his alma mater and his home region in his heart.”

“Dr. Chuck Welch, President of the ASU System, has assembled an extraordinary team of leaders in Jonesboro,” Gibson said.  “From Chancellor Damphousse to Dean Burcham and Dr. Jason Penry -- all have an unsurpassed passion and vision to move the College of Agriculture forward into new and exciting fields.  I look forward to continuing our partnership with this excellent team of leaders to promote and improve the one industry the world cannot survive without, agriculture.”

Gibson’s endowment of the Judd Hill Agricultural Faculty Excellence Fund is also a $1,000,000 commitment and was recently fully funded.  The Faculty Excellence Fund provides material support to individual faculty members engaged in research to improve agriculture in the region.

One of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, the Mississippi River Delta is essential to global food and fiber production, notably the cultivation of cotton, corn, soybean, rice and other field crops.

The two gifts extend the long-established research relationship between the Judd Hill farm sites, which are currently utilized by A-State faculty for field work as well as meteorological data collection for the regional agriculture industry.

Recognition of the completion of the Faculty Excellence Fund gift and the acknowledgement of the new Student Research and Innovation Endowment were announced just prior to the 25th annual Arkansas State University Agribusiness Conference.

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