University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Vice Chancellor for Advancement Bob Denman and his wife Peggy will be honored at Taste of Little Rock for their commitment and devotion to their alma mater UALR.
By Jessica Dyer | Photography by Dero Sanford | Shot on location at Boulevard Bistro & Bar
“There is no great Southern city without a highly successful university at its core,” University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Vice Chancellor for Advancement Bob Denman believes, “and Little Rock deserves a world-class university.” This standard of excellence mirrors Bob’s commitment to UALR as one of its most prolific fundraisers. A 1974 UALR graduate, Bob has dedicated more than a quarter of a century to the betterment of his alma mater and is retiring this month.
When asked the favorite part of his job, Bob gives three. “Watching our students cross the commencement stage, assisting UALR’s wonderful donors as they make joyful gifts and seeing the staff manage their largest gift ever.” This $22.4 million dollar donation from Jack Stephens facilitated the construction of the Jack Stephens Center in 2005 – now the hub of the university’s athletic department, commencement ceremonies, student activities, sports facilities and community events.
This is one of the many hallmarks UALR has garnered under Bob’s leadership. He’s responsible for some of the largest gifts in the university’s history. After spending 25 years in broadcast television, Bob joined UALR in 2001 and conducted the institution’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, “It’s Time for UALR,” which netted more than $103.4 million. He also managed a recent $20.3 million dollar gift from the Windgate Charitable Foundation, which will be used to build a new center for art and design on campus. In the past fiscal year alone, his team generated a record $32.4 million in donations for the university. But Bob notes his greatest accomplishment is the UALR faculty and staff giving campaign. “It’s one of the best in the nation with about 70 percent of the campus community giving annually,” he says.
Bob has lived in Little Rock nearly his entire life. He met his wife, Peggy, in high school and they attended UALR together, Bob graduating with a degree in marketing and advertising and Peggy as part of Chi Omega Sorority. His commitment to UALR is an act of gratitude, he says. “I got a great education, got to do exactly what I wanted to do professionally and I felt the need to give something back. Some of my most fond memories are from being a UALR student with Peggy – it was a great experience for both of us.” Bob’s father, mother and youngest brother all graduated from the university as well, creating a strong family allegiance.
During his tenure at UALR, Bob was president of the university’s Alumni Association, chairman of the Foundation Fund Board and served as interim director of athletics. He was recognized with the UALR Alumni Association President’s Award for his dedication to the university, and currently serves as president of the Rotary Club of Little Rock. “It’s one of the world’s largest Rotary clubs, so it’s a big honor to have been elected,” Bob says.
It’s no surprise that Bob and Peggy will be honored at this year’s Taste of Little Rock, the UALR Alumni Association’s annual fundraiser for student scholarships. Their support is unwavering. “If Peggy and I have the means to help build the Alumni Scholarship Program, then we have to do it. Students have too much debt and it’s important for us to eliminate the financial stress of attendance,” he says. Hosted at the spacious Jack Stephens Center, the evening will showcase more than 40 of the best restaurants in Central Arkansas in what’s expected to be “the biggest ever,” Bob notes. “This event is a perfect excuse for a fun meet-and-greet between restaurants, sponsors and guests,” Bob says. Taste of Little Rock, celebrating more than a decade of success, introduces guests to some of the tastiest cuisine the city has to offer.
It seems that few are more proud of and dedicated to the prosperity of UALR than Bob. UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson boasts of Bob’s impact at the school. “At the end of his time here at UALR, Bob is leaving his alma mater with a robust advancement division that has greater momentum than before, which will continue to enable the university to accomplish its noble mission – to help our students.
Go-to Recipe – That would be a restaurant phone number, I don’t cook!
Business Advice – “Get the right people on the bus, but make sure you have them in the right seat.” – Jim Collins
Local Restaurant – I can’t pick just one: Taziki’s, El Porton or Trio’s.