$1 million boosts vocations, ethics program at Hendrix11-10-2008
CONWAY — Hendrix College has received a $1 million gift from the Fort Smith-based Miller Foundation to establish an on-campus center that will focus on “enhancing students’ future career decisions and spiritual callings.” The gift was announced Oct. 7.
The Miller Center for Vocation, Calling and Ethics, created through the foundation organized by Bob and Nadine Miller of Fort Smith, will provide programming, staffing and leadership to assist Hendrix students through challenging life decisions.
The Miller Center will continue and enhance traditions of the college’s Hendrix-Lilly Initiative, a program designed with similar intentions at Hendrix seven years ago and sustained through a five-year implementation grant and a subsequent three-year sustainability grant from the Lilly Foundation. The Miller Center will officially replace the Lilly Initiative in the fall of 2009.
“The Miller Center purpose will be to help students discern the connection between faith and vocation,” Hendrix President J. Timothy Cloyd said. “The work of the Miller Center will touch the lives of hundreds of Hendrix students every year, encouraging them to think more deeply and fully about their vocational choices and their faith.”
Bishop Charles Crutchfield called the gift “an extraordinary act of stewardship” that will help Hendrix “plant the seeds of future harvests” and “train citizens that will understand that the world is their parish regardless of what their profession may be.”
Bob and Nadine Miller are pillars in the United Methodist Church, serving as lay leaders in both local and national Methodist organizations, and have been responsible for numerous philanthropic actions within their Fort Smith community. They have been active supporters of the First United Methodist Church of Fort Smith for decades as well as advocates of the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, a new emergency room and center at a local hospital, and other organizations.
Hendrix College has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church for more than a century.
“Hendrix has always had a special place in our hearts,” Bob Miller said, addressing about 30 persons assembled at the college for the announcement of the gift. “If you have faith while going through college, it helps you make the right decisions.”
A good education is important, but it’s “only half of what you need,” he said. “You need the faith that goes with it. Faith, modesty and integrity go with good education to make the whole person.”
The Center will continue to provide programming to guide the spiritual callings and vocational inclinations of Hendrix students — from service-based internships, personal growth retreats, mission trips, and academic exploration of vocation —while providing opportunities for the expansion of these programs, according to Dr. Peg Falls-Corbitt, the current director of the Hendrix-Lilly Initiative who will also direct the Miller Center.
“The Millers’ generosity allows Hendrix to continue, and to build upon, the best of the programs for theological exploration of vocation originally seeded by the grant from the Lilly Endowment,” Falls-Corbitt said. “That’s great news for our students, over 50 percent of whom already participate in a Vocations Initiative program before graduating.”
Recognizing the diversity of the Hendrix Community, the Miller Center will continue to provide programming appropriate for students of any religious heritage and those with no religious tradition at all. In honor of the religious tradition of the college, however, many elements of the Miller Center are designed specifically to assist those students exploring a Christian vocation, whether through professional ministry or lay leadership.
“We honor Bob and Nadine Miller not only as wonderful stewards of their church and community, but for their loving commitment to the lives of our future generation of community, church and lay leaders,” said Ellis Arnold, Hendrix’s executive vice president and dean of institutional advancement. “Their gifts will be seen through the lives of so many future Hendrix graduates.”