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.


Traffic Pattern Redesigned In St. Elmo On Tennessee Avenue

The intersection of Tennessee Avenue at W 40th Street has been redesigned as a “T” Intersection.  The triangular island has been removed and northbound Tennessee Avenue now has a stop sign at the intersection with W 40 th  Street.  This project reduces the number of conflict points from the three sided intersection, calms traffic entering the St Elmo neighborhood, ... (click for more)

Lecture On The Trail Of Tears Is Nov. 10

The Friends of Moccasin Bend present the third of the three programs that comprise their ninth annual Fall Lecture Series on Monday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m. in UTC’s University Center Auditorium. Featured speaker will be Supreme Court Justice of the Cherokee Nation and Executive Director of the National Trail of Tears Association Troy Wayne Poteete. Justice Poteete’s topic is the ... (click for more)

Downtown Chattanooga Apartment Complex That Brought $3 Million Profit Exempt From Most Taxes Until 2022 Under PILOT

A downtown Chattanooga apartment complex that recently was sold at a $3 million profit is exempt from most property taxes through 2022 under a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement.   No payment of school taxes was included in the deal for Walnut Commons at Walnut Street and Aquarium Way.   The only taxes due on the property for the next eight ... (click for more)

Cold, Wet Front To Make For Chilly And Damp Trick Or Treating; Snow Showers Possible Saturday

A surge of cold, moist air will make for less-than-ideal trick or treat conditions on Halloween night. Temperatures are expected to dip below freezing this weekend. There is a possibility of snow showers in Chattanooga on Saturday. Here is the latest forecast: Today Showers likely, mainly after 5pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 58. Calm wind becoming northwest ... (click for more)

Thanks For Publishing The Stokes Photo Book

I pre-ordered the Stokes Photo Book and picked it up Wednesday . The covers and content are very high quality and contain photos you will not see anywhere else.  This book of photos is worth much more than $35.  I have seen many historic photos of my hometown Chattanooga, but this collection is amazing. My favorites are National Cemetery, Confederate Cemetery near ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Saban: ‘Ratings Don’t Matter’

When the first College Football Playoff rankings were released earlier this week, Alabama football coach Nick Saban got it right on the button when he shrugged, “I don't even care, to be honest with you." "To me, none of it matters, What does it matter?” he laughed at the Tide’s No. 6 ranking. “I mean, it only matters where you end up at the end. So what matters to us is how ... (click for more)