Baldor Electric Co., a member of the ABB Group, has given a $1-million gift to the University of Arkansas–Fort Smith Foundation in honor of John McFarland's 41 years of service to Baldor.
The gift will establish the John McFarland and Baldor Scholarship for Technology and Applied Sciences. McFarland, former CEO and chairman of the board at Baldor, began his career with the company in 1970, while a student at UA Fort Smith. Back then, it was known as Westark Community College.
Dr. Paul B. Beran, chancellor at UA Fort Smith, called the Baldor gift "extraordinary."
"This extraordinary gift honors John McFarland for the value he has personally placed on education," said Beran, "but it also shows the commitment of Baldor and ABB to this community, and to making this region a better place to live through education of the citizens of this region."
Dr. Marta Loyd, vice chancellor for university advancement and executive director of the UA Fort Smith Foundation, said the endowment is expected to fund an estimated $50,000 in scholarships per year, when the university begins awarding scholarships from it in a couple of years.
The endowment will be used to provide scholarships for students enrolled in programs that help meet the needs of Baldor. Program options, which will result in an associate degree or a bachelor's degree offered through UA Fort Smith, are in the College of Applied Science and Technology and in the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Scholarship amounts could vary from $1,000 to $5,000 each, depending on other scholarships the recipients might receive. The scholarships will not be based on need.
McFarland worked his way up the ranks at Baldor, being named president and CEO in 2000 and chairman of the board in 2004. During his 41 years at Baldor, he saw the company grow from $20 million in sales to $1.9 billion, ultimately leading it to become the number-one, market-share leader in North America.