This Foundation traces its beginning to 1911 — just two years after Arkansas State University was founded—when a group of individuals headed by the founding President V. C. Kays agreed to contribute funds to purchase livestock for the Animal Husbandry Department of the School. They formed a “Board of Control” to oversee the effort.
On May 16, 1913, the Endowment Association of the First District State Agricultural School officially came into being when the attorney general approved the form of Agreement between ten citizens of Northeast Arkansas for the organization under Arkansas laws to benefit the First District State Agricultural School.
In 1945, the Arkansas State College Foundation for the Advancement of Higher Education was organized and duly incorporated. Shortly thereafter, the properties and assets of the Endowment Association were transferred to the new entity.
Although its official name was the Arkansas State College Foundation for the Advancement of Higher Education, the Foundation generally was known as the Kays Foundation in recognition of the significant roles played by Dr. V. C. Kays, and by his son, V. H. “Buddy” Kays, who successively led the Foundation for ninety years.
The Foundation’s long history of support for ASU has evidenced itself in many ways. While it’s first contribution was the purchase of registered livestock, the Foundation or its predecessors purchased land adjacent to the original campus to ensure space for pasture, cultivation and subsequent growth of the Arkansas State University. In addition to direct monetary contributions, it has donated land for many uses on the ASU campus, including dormitories and other buildings. It constructed the old College Club, provided for sidewalks from Jonesboro to the school, provided for a white way lighting system for the campus and for the extension of city water mains and electric lines to the edge of campus. For many years, the Foundation owned some 36 brick homes adjacent to the campus which it rented to faculty and staff of the University at below-market rates.
The Board of the Arkansas State College Foundation for the Advancement of Higher Education voted to officially change the name of the organization to “The Kays Foundation” in 2005.
Partial List of Past Donations to ASU
– YMCA and lots
– College Club and lots (Nursing Building)
– Land for Danner Hall (1933)
– Land for Caraway Hall (1933)
– Land for Health Center, Landscaping (1961)
– Land for Kays Hall (1964)
– Stadium Fund Donation (1973)
– Oral History Donation (1979)
– Oral History 75th Anniversary Donation (1984)
– Provided a White Way Lighting System for the campus
– Provided sidewalks from Jonesboro to the school
– Provided the extension of City water mains and electric lines to the edge of campus.
Past Board Members
- J. A. Blackford
- W. L. Banks
- H. M. Cooley
- W. S. Danner
- Ms. Pearle Davis
- I. C. Leggitt
- V. C. Kays
- R. Whitaker
- R. E. Lee Wilson