Murphy: Scholarship Program Offers Hope To Small Arkansas Town

Thursday, September 27, 2007 - by Judy Frank

When the Fortune 500 company his grandfather founded decided it wanted to improve the quality of life in the small town where it is headquartered, focusing on education just seemed natural, Charles "Chip" Murphy told Chattanooga Rotary Club members on Thursday.

The upshot: Murphy Oil committed $50 million to fund El Dorado Promise, a scholarship program for all public school students in El Dorado, AR. The company will spend $5 million annually for the next 10 years helping students afford to go to the colleges of their choice.



Already, the program has generated enthusiasm throughout the community, he noted. For example, one college senior -- after learning El Dorado Promise would help pay his way to any college, anywhere -- said he wished he had known about it sooner.

"If I'd known I had choices, I would have worked harder," the student confessed.

Based on how long they attended El Dorado schools, students can get as much as $6,200 per year to help pay their college tuitions.

"We've given a raise to everybody in the community who has children," he said.

The idea is not original, Mr. Murphy confessed. "We stole it" after reading an article about the Kalamazoo (Michigan) Promise in the Wall Street Journal, he said.

As the only Fortune 500 company headquartered in a completely rural area, he said, Murphy Oil designed El Dorado Promise to meet the needs of the South Arkansas residents it targets.

El Dorado peaked in population around 1921, he said. During recent years, the community has been losing its industrial base and has seen its number of residents decline.

Today, only about 4,400 students attend public school there.

Nevertheless, Murphy Oil officials, realizing the company "can make a difference in a town of this size," is committed to making El Dorado Promise a success, he said.

"We don't know yet how this will turn out," he said. "It may be that the only thing that will come of this is that the kids going to school in El Dorado will get to go to college.

"And that's fine," he added.

But he's hoping the program will have a positive impact on the entire community, not just the students it helps through school.

Currently, Arkansas ranks low on educational achievement and number of college graduates, he noted. With any luck, this program can help change that.

And along the way, he said, it could make it easier for Murphy Oil and other employers in the area to recruit new workers from outside the area.

A 1971 graduate of Baylor School, Mr. Murphy went on to obtain a degree in agricultural economics from Cornell University.

Following graduation, he worked as manager of the Ashley Plantation in Tallulah, LA, and oversaw a 5,200-acre row crop operation and participated in the formation of the Great River Grain Co.

Over the years, he has:

* Worked as manager of planning and development for Deltic Farm and Timber Co. in El Dorado, AR, where he managed land acquisition and budgeting for the 450,000-acre forest product company.

* Developed and implemented the master use plan for Chenal Properties, a 7,000-acre mixed-use real estate project in Little Rock, AR.

* Spent a decade in Warsaw, Poland, where he founded International Farms, a cross-breeding project intended to improve beef production in eastern Europe.

* Designed and developed Quail Ridge, a mixed-use development in suburban Wichita, KS, that was awarded the 1996 Public Improvement Award by the state of Kansas.

Today he serves as managing member of the Murphy Group; chairman of the board of ClearPointe Technology; chief operating officer of Amaterra, Jamaica; and vice president of Loutre Land and Timber Co. in El Dorado.

He is a member of the Baylor School board of trustees.


Bud Wisseman, 77, To Run In 28th Consecutive Boston Marathon

Chattanooga resident Bud Wisseman, 77, (who started running at the age of 50) hopes to finish his 28th consecutive Boston Marathon on Monday, April 17. He had to qualify for the first 25, and when he reached that milestone he was inducted by the Boston Athletic Association into the Boston Marathon Quarter Century Club, with the chief benefit being that he never has to actually "qualify" ... (click for more)

W Road To Be Closed Thursday For Maintenance

The Hamilton County Highway Department announced the W Road will be closed for maintenance on  Thursday , from  9- a.m. till 3 p.m . (click for more)

Boyd Says $4.1 Million In County Budget Cuts Would Yield $43.1 Million For School Projects; Proposes That CSLA Move To Dalewood

County Commission Finance Chairman Tim Boyd on Wednesday recommended $4.1 million in county budget cuts, which he said would provide bond funds for $43,150,000 in county school projects. He recommended that $250,000 of the money from the cuts go to relocating Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts (CSLA) to Dalewood Middle School. He said Dalewood students could move to a portion ... (click for more)

Police Shoot And Kill Sheriff's Office Employee After Disorder At Brainerd Home; 2 Off-Duty City Officers Were At Scene Of Altercation Where Shot Was Fired

Chattanooga Police responded to an altercation at a house in Brainerd early Wednesday morning and wound up shooting and killing an armed man, who is an employee of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office. Police said two off-duty Chattanooga Police officers were at the scene of the disorder in the 300 block of Shawnee Trail. A shot was fired before officers arrived at 1:26 a.m. ... (click for more)

Slaxxon Regret - And Response

Back in the seventies my three oldest brothers had a buddy named Steve Slack. “Slack” was a star soccer player at Baylor and he grew up on Lookout Mountain, which is where I grew up. He and Jimmy, Henry and Bill went to the University of Virginia where they were roommates in an old, beat up house that was painted pink. Naturally, the place became known as the “Pink Palace” but lest ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: OK, Sis, Off You Go

I’ve got to do something to adjust my sense of humor but fear there is not a big enough wrench. Rasmea Yousef Odeh, who is a naturalized American citizen from Jordan, was one of the principal figures in January’s Women’s March on Washington and had an equal starring role in the most recent “Day Without Women” protests in America. I’m all for equal rights for women yet I was appalled ... (click for more)