- Associated Press - Sunday, October 7, 2018

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) - Myles Friedman liked to challenge himself, and his $10.8 million estate gift announced last month will give honors program students at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith the opportunity to do the same for themselves.

University Foundation chairman Mark Moll announced before about 100 people, many of them honors program students, that the $10.8 million will be added to the Myles Friedman Scholarship Endowment that Friedman established at the university before he died on Sept. 1, 2017, at age 78.

Friedman’s wife, Deanna, and stepdaughter Elizabeth Roberts of Bremerton, Washington, attended the announcement, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

The university has awarded 20 Myles Friedman scholarships since the endowment was created, Moll said.

During that time, Moll said, Friedman “started thinking more about his past, his days at Fort Smith Junior College, the present, UAFS and its current students, and about the future and what a significant gift could mean to the university, a transformational gift.”

The latest gift is estimated to generate $400,000 annually and will be used exclusively for scholarships, Moll said.

The gift is the third-largest to the university and the largest by an individual, Moll said. The larger gifts were from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and the Windgate Foundation.

The university’s Honors International Studies Program was recently renamed as the Myles Friedman Honors Program to acknowledge Friedman’s gift, Moll said.

Friedman’s gift, the school’s designation as the most affordable university in Arkansas and the recent unveiling of a fixed tuition program demonstrate how sensitive the university is to the cost of education, interim Chancellor Edward Serna said.

“This gift will help more students realize the dream of a college education that will change the trajectory of their lives and their family’s lives, and we are enormously grateful to receive it,” Serna said.

Payton Radley, a beneficiary of the honors program and a 2016 University of Arkansas at Fort Smith graduate, magna cum laude, said the honors program opened her eyes to education, shaped her ideas of culture and broadened her horizons.

Radley, 24, was born in Rudy in rural Crawford County, graduated from Alma High School and was the first in her family to attend college. Through the honors program she was able to see the world and challenge herself academically, and she is now a teacher at Van Buren High School.

Arkansas University System President Donald Bobbitt, who attended the recent announcement, said he was thrilled not only about the size of the gift but by the opportunities it will give students like Radley.

“Now she’s a teacher, and she’s changing other lives through the education she received here at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith,” Bobbitt said. “It’s fantastic.”

Friedman was a Fort Smith native who attended Fort Smith High School before studying chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He chose chemical engineering because he thought it would be the hardest program, university Provost Georgia Hale said. She said he found it disappointingly easy.

Friedman also attended the University of Missouri and taught there before returning to Fort Smith.

He was a member of the faculty of Westark Community College, the predecessor to the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. He also had an engineering practice and prospered in financial investments.

Moll said Myles and Deanna Friedman enjoyed traveling extensively, including trips to Alaska for the annual Iditarod dog sled races.

He enjoyed various other activities. His obituary said he was a Mason, a Shriner and a member of the Rotary Club. He was on the board of directors of the Fort Smith Little Theatre, and was a member of the Fort Smith Duplicate Bridge Club and of the Fort Smith Amateur Radio Society.

Hale said Friedman enjoyed building things in his spare time and at one time had eight working computers in his home.

“He was a smart man who liked to challenge himself,” Hale said.


Information from: Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.nwaonline.com

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