Board chairman and wife give $1 million to Rhodes construction project

rhodes_floor_plan_3August 6, 2015 | Advancement

Board of trustees chairman Roy Reaves and his wife, Becky, have donated $1 million to a project to renovate and expand Rhodes Field House on the Searcy campus of Harding University.

The Russellville, Arkansas, couple made the pacesetting gift in the $2 million construction project that is slated to begin in November.

The announcement of the gift was made today by Chancellor David B. Burks, who worked with the couple to secure the funding. Reaves and Burks were classmates at Harding.

Reaves’ banking career spanned more than 40 years of banking management in Arkansas, serving several banks as chief executive officer. He founded First Arkansas Valley Bank in 1997, which later merged with Liberty Bank and then Centennial Bank.

Today he is a cattle rancher and investor and serves on the boards of several community organizations.

Becky Reaves also served Arkansas River Valley Bank customers for 25 years prior to her retirement.

Reaves is a 1965 graduate of Harding with a degree in business administration. He also has an MBA from the University of Arkansas. He currently is serving in his first term as chairman of Harding’s board of trustees.

At its semi-annual May meeting, the board of trustees made the decision to add the Reaves name to the building.

“Roy and Becky Reaves’ generous gift for the Rhodes Field House not only makes this exciting project possible, but it has also helped us tremendously in moving forward with another renovation project as well,” said President Bruce McLarty. “Members of the board of trustees were unanimous in their decision to add the Reaves’ name to our beloved old gym, making it the ‘Rhodes-Reaves Field House.’”

The Rhodes Field House project involves adding approximately 2,000 square feet to the entrance of the building and a hospitality box on the second level overlooking the reserved seats on the west side of the current structure.

Also part of the project is an 11,000-square-foot addition to the east side of the building. This area will contain a new practice facility and new basketball dressing rooms.

Currently the volleyball and both men’s and women’s basketball teams use the Rhodes Field House. The proposed facility will be better suited to accommodate all three teams’ practice schedules.

Commenting on his motivation to provide the couple’s gift, Reaves said, “During my first year at Harding, I remember the pickup basketball games where I joined with faculty members and administrators in friendly competition. These were men I admired and held in high esteem. I really got to know them during this time in my life. Many are still very dear friends. Harding changed my life, and the transformation began in the Rhodes Field House.

“The Rhodes needs expanding and renovating now. Scheduling practice times and games for three teams is a nightmare. The teams need a practice court, new locker rooms and space to host special guests. Becky and I believe these improvements are needed immediately, and we hope our gift will make it happen.”

“Roy and Becky love Harding and her mission,” said Burks. “I am very appreciative of their generous gift to help make this important project a reality.  The added space is really needed for our athletic programs. I am glad they recognize the importance of this facility to the Harding family.”

Reaves is also a graduate of Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University and the National Commercial Lending School at the University of Oklahoma.

In 1982 he was named Man of the Year in Nashville, Arkansas, and in 2007 he was Citizen of the Year in Russellville.

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