PINE BLUFF, AR – On Tuesday, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) announced a $2.5 million gift from Simmons Bank for upgrades to the football and baseball athletics facilities.

According to a press release from the university, the gift is the largest in UAPB history and will fund a new football stadium scoreboard and turf, along with completion of the baseball pavilion at the Tori Hunter Baseball and Softball Complex. The stadium field will be renamed to Simmons Bank Field. The gift is pending UA System Board of Trustees approval at its May 23-24 meeting.

“On behalf of UAPB faculty, staff, students and alumni, I’d like to express our appreciation to Simmons Bank for its generous gift,” said Dr. Lawrence B. Alexander, Chancellor of UAPB. “This donation will directly benefit our student-athletics by assisting them in reaching and exceeding their athletic and academic performance goals.”

Simmons First National Corp., founded in 1903, is one of the largest financial companies based in Arkansas. Simmons Bank’s downtown complex is Pine Bluff’s tallest building.

“Simmons is honored to partner with UAPB to help students excel right here in our hometown of Pine Bluff,” said George A. Makris, Jr., chairman and CEO of Simmons First National Corp. “There is nothing more rewarding for our bank than the opportunity to invest in our communities, especially in our young people.”

“We are grateful to Simmons Bank for its long-standing partnership with UAPB, and more specifically, this major gift will allow us to complete much-needed upgrades. These improvements will benefit our student-athletes and create a better fan experience during football and baseball games.”

The new Simmons Bank Pavilion will help to complete construction at the Torii Hunter Complex that opened in 2011. Hunter, a Pine Bluff native and former Major League Baseball player and five-time All-Star selection, previously donated $500,000 for the initial construction of the baseball and softball complex, the largest contribution to UAPB before the Simmons Bank gift.





About Simmons Bank

Simmons Banks is an Arkansas state-chartered bank that began as a community bank in 1903. Through the decades, Simmons has developed a full suite of financial products and services designed to meet the needs of individual consumers and business customers alike. Simmons is a subsidiary bank for Simmons First National Corporation (NASDAQ: SFNC), a publicly traded bank holding company headquartered in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. For more information, visit

About the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) is an 1890 Land-Grant HBCU with a diverse student population, competitive degree offerings and stellar faculty. For more than 140 years, UAPB has worked to create an environment that inculcates learning, growth and productivity while affording a basic need to its students – a chance to advance. UAPB offers Certificate and Associates degree programs, more than thirty Undergraduate programs, Master’s degree programs and a Doctorate program in Aquaculture/Fisheries. Students are active in more than 100 organizations, an internationally renowned Vesper Choir, Marching Band, Concert Bands, Wind Symphony, nationally recognized debate team, award-winning theater department and accomplished athletic program.

JACKSON, MS – The education arm of the Mississippi National Baptist State Convention (MNBSC) presented Jackson State University with a $15,000 check during its 5th Annual Session earlier this month to assist students with financial aid.

The Mississippi National Baptist State Convention (MNBSC) held its annual meeting June 5-8 at Greater Antioch Baptist Church in Pascagoula. Attendees included Dr. John W. Davis Sr., left, pastor of the Greater Antioch Baptist Church in Pascagoula; Virgie Davis; and Dr. Danny Hollins, pastor of Grace Inspirations Baptist Church in Jackson. Also appearing were Sandra Hodge, vice president of Institutional Advancement at Jackson State University; Dr. Kenneth Hollins, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Biloxi; and Dr. Kenneth M. Davis, president of the MNBSC and pastor of Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in D’Iberville. (Photo courtesy of Jackson State University)

According to a press release by the university, Dr. Kenneth Hollins, education board chair of MNBSC, presented the gift during the annual event at the Greater Antioch Baptist Church in Pascagoula. He said, “We are a young convention, but our state president believes we should help students who fall in a gap situation when money runs out during their post-secondary educational studies.”

The donation, which recognizes the partnership between the university and the faith-based community, earns the state convention a JSU “Circle of 1,000” honor in the category of “Seeds of Promise” ($10,000 or more). Also, donors can earn distinction in the categories of “Seeds of Faith” ($1,000) and “Seeds of Hope” ($5,000).

Hollins, pastor of New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Biloxi, said the MNBSC also has provided thousands of dollars in support to other HBCUs throughout Mississippi. “We have a historical account of how HBCUs have helped our communities. There was a time when (African-Americans) could attend only an HBCU. We are aware that when we sow seeds in good soil it brings forth a good harvest.”

Sandra Hodge, vice president of Institutional Advancement at JSU, extolled the generosity of churches in helping HBCUs.

“This is an example of faith-based organizations remembering and reminding others of our roots,” said Hodge, reflecting that JSU was founded in 1877 as Natchez Seminary.

Meanwhile, Hollins said he and two other brothers received their doctorate degrees from JSU, so he’s especially endeared to the urban institution. As well, he said he is duty-bound to follow the “wonderful leadership of Dr. Kenneth Davis, the president of Mississippi Baptist State Convention, for leading the charge to assist our young people in furthering their education.”

As the state convention continues fulfilling its mission, Graves said he especially wants people to know that “before we can ask anybody to help us as a people we must be willing to help ourselves first.” So, he’s urging HBCUs to “keep doing an excellent job in educating our young men and women because we have stellar individuals graduating from all of our Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”



A Historically Black Carnegie Doctoral/Research Intensive public institution of higher learning located in the metropolitan area of Jackson, Mississippi, Jackson State University educates a diverse student population from Mississippi, most other states and many foreign countries by providing a broad range of baccalaureate programs and a variety of masters and doctoral programs in its six Colleges: Business; Education and Human Development; Liberal Arts; Lifelong Learning; Public Service; and Science, Engineering and Technology. The learning process at Jackson State is enhance through experiential learning in urban and rural areas throughout the city, state, nation, and global communities. Jackson State is a learning community for highly capable, as well as capable but under prepared students who require a nurturing academic environment.

For more information about Jackson State University, visit