LITTLE ROCK (Tuesday, May 23, 2023) — Four students from University of Arkansas System campuses have earned grants from an endowment honoring James L. “Skip” Rutherford III, dean emeritus of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.
“I’m honored and humbled that these students and so many others have taken interest in this program, and I am so impressed with each of the winners,” Rutherford said. “I hope these mini-grants will help each of them reach their goals in higher education and beyond. I appreciate all the donors to this endowment who have helped and will continue to help make a difference for students in need of support across the UA System.”
Those receiving grants include (bios below):
- Scott Davis University of Arkansas at Monticello
- Lindsay Mast University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
- Naomi Mendoza University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College)
- Tyonna Williams Phillps Community College of the University of Arkansas
The endowment was established in 2021 at the University of Arkansas Foundation to honor Rutherford and provide support to student leaders across the UA System. This is the second year for grants to be awarded from the fund. Contributions to the fund are tax deductible and can be made online by selecting “Skip Rutherford Student Leadership Endowment” in the drop-down menu or mailing a check to the Clinton School at 1200 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock, AR 72201.
“We had another year with so many compelling applications,” said Eric Wilson, chair of the Rutherford Endowment selection committee. “The four recipients each represent what this program is all about – providing support to those students who could use a boost to help reach their goals in higher education. I want to encourage those who we couldn’t fund this year to apply again next year.”
The grants were awarded by an independent committee appointed by Dr. Michael Moore, UA System vice president for academic affairs, in accordance with the terms of the endowment. Each spring, undergraduate and graduate students from any UA System campus will have the chance to apply for the grant.
James L. “Skip” Rutherford III was dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service from 2006 to 2021. During his deanship he emphasized the unique project-based learning model in the school’s Master of Public Service degree program and built a nationally renowned public speakers’ program, among other accomplishments. Before becoming dean, Rutherford oversaw the planning, construction and opening of the Clinton Presidential Center. He also has an extensive private sector background in communications and public relations. The Rutherford Student Leadership Endowment was founded in 2021 by friends of Rutherford upon his retirement to honor his life and career in public service.
More information about this year’s recipients:
Scott Davis, of Little Rock, is enrolled in the Heavy Equipment Operator program at the University of Arkansas at Monticello College of Technology in McGehee, where he is working toward completing a technical certificate, earning his commercial driver’s license (CDL) and completing his associate degree. Davis will use his grant to help cover his living expenses this summer so he can relocate to Southeast Arkansas to attend classes five days a week and complete his program. Davis has previously worked in building maintenance and lawn care and currently volunteers with a local recovery clinic.
Lindsay Mast, of Fayetteville, is a non-traditional student who recently completed her first year of law school at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. A mother of four, Mast earned her undergraduate degree at Texas A&M University in 2004 and worked in the consumer-packaged goods industry and as a stay-at-home mother before pursuing her law degree. Mast earned a full-time internship this summer with the Midwest Innocence Project, where she will work with attorneys representing incarcerated clients across the region. She will use her grant to help pay for childcare this summer and purchase a new computer to use in the 10-week internship program, which she will complete remotely.
Naomi Mendoza, of Little Rock, is a first-generation college student pursuing an associate degree in business at the University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College. A non-native English speaker who grew up in an immigrant household, Mendoza supports herself with a part-time job in the hospitality industry while pursuing her degree. A graduate of Little Rock Central High School, Mendoza has funded her education with state and institutional scholarships and gained support from the UAPTC TRiO Student Support Services program. She will use her grant funds to purchase a personal computer to utilize in her coursework.
Tyonna Williams, of Lexa, is nearing completion of her associate degree at Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas in Helena. A graduate of Barton High School, Williams has supported herself with employment in retail sales and has volunteered with the Humane Society. Williams has completed much of her coursework as an online student and has endured the struggle of online learning in a rural area. She learned of the opportunity to apply for the Rutherford Grant from her mother and will use the funds to pay for school supplies and food during the completion of her degree program.