On Saturday, February 21st, Dr. Laurence B. Alexander and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff will host its Annual Chancellor’s Benefit for the Arts at the Pine Bluff Convention Center. This gala black tie event will open with a reception and silent art auction at 6:00 p.m., with dinner and live entertainment at 7:15.
Following the dinner, five individuals will be honored for their service to the University and their community. This year, the honorees are Gerald Alley, Troy Alley, Jr., Sissy Jones, Henry Trotter, Jr. and Henri Linton, Sr. Although the five honorees are not UAPB graduates, according to a UAPB spokesperson, their commitment to UAPB and the Pine Bluff community has earned them this recognition.
Now in its twenty-eighth year, the benefit was initiated in the fall of 1987 to generate funds for the support and continuation of the “Persistence of the Spirit” exhibit, documenting 300 years of Black History in Arkansas, and later the “Keepers of the Spirit” history project, which documents the history of the university.
This gala affair has grown and its goals and objectives have been broadened to include support for the University Museum and Cultural Center, arts activities and various cultural programs at the University. The proceeds from recent benefits have been used to support art exhibits, theatrical productions, concerts/recitals, scholarships, museum tours for art students and performance tours for the choir, bands and theater groups. In addition, the benefit has provided matching funds for grants for such research projects and exhibits as Keepers of the Spirit, And So Shall She Reap: The Seeds of Beulah Flowers, and Isaac Scott Hathaway: Sculptor.
As the benefit has grown, so has the attendance with an average of more than 350 persons attending each year, according to Henri Linton, the co-founder of the benefit. During the sixth annual benefit in 1993, a record crowd of 650 persons looked on as the Keepers of the Spirit exhibit was unveiled and tribute was paid to former UAPB President/Chancellor Dr. L.A. Davis, Sr., for the many years of dedicated and outstanding service to the university. In 2006, on the occasion of the 18th benefit, which was held in conjunction with the 132th Founder’s Celebration, the school announced the opening of the University Museum and Cultural Center. The center was established to house The Keepers of the Spirit: The L.A. Davis Sr. Historical Collection, and other exhibits that document the history of the University and the Arkansas Delta. The museum and its collections are an outgrowth of the support generated by the benefit.
Tickets for the benefit are $100 per person and may be purchased at the Office of University Relations and Development located in Childress Hall on the UAPB campus or by phone using MasterCard or Visa by calling 575-8701 or 575-8703. A table for eight may be purchased for $800.00.