ATU Announces Naming of Ferguson Student Union

Cindi and Jimmy Ferguson
Cindi and Jimmy Ferguson

Dr. Russell Jones, Arkansas Tech University interim president, announced during a fall commencement ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 16, that the forthcoming student union and recreation center on ATU’s Russellville campus will be known as the Ferguson Student Union.

It is named for Jimmy Ferguson, his wife Cindi and their family. Mr. Ferguson served on the ATU staff from 1975-94, advancing to the rank of assistant vice president and dean of students.

While at ATU, Mr. Ferguson was elected president of the Arkansas College Personnel Association in 1982. He served the National Association for Campus Activities as the chairman of the board of directors. He held an appointment by Gov. Bill Clinton to the Arkansas Governor’s Advisory Council on Volunteerism.

Since completing his service to ATU and entering the private sector, Mr. Ferguson and his family have owned and operated more than 30 McDonald’s franchises in central Texas for almost three decades. He has held numerous national and regional leadership positions with the McDonald’s organization.

He has also served as chairman of the National Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

“As we embarked upon our ongoing student union project, Arkansas Tech re-connected with Jimmy,” said Jones during the announcement of the Ferguson Student Union at ATU fall 2023 commencement. “We shared our vision of what the student union and recreation center will mean for our students and how it will provide a hub for student engagement and personal development. These ideals connected perfectly with Jimmy’s philanthropic goals. As a result, he and his family have made the lead gift in supporting the construction and implementation of our new facility. I am pleased to announce this morning that henceforth, the new facility will be known as the Ferguson Student Union.”

Preliminary site work for the facility was completed in 2023 and construction will begin in 2024. Among the amenities the 68,000-square foot building will provide are student meeting spaces, lounge spaces for students to enjoy during their free time, fast casual dining, an e-sports gaming lab, basketball courts, a location to check out outdoor recreation gear and workout areas for cardiovascular and strength fitness training.

“What we hope, and what we know is going to happen, is that the new student union will belong to the students,” said Mr. Ferguson. “This will be the place they will feel most comfortable as a part of this university. This will be the living room of their college life. This is where they can connect with their friends and connect with the resources they need. We will be at the top of hospitality for students. We hope this facility is a comfort for them.”

“We’ve been greatly blessed,” said Mrs. Ferguson. “We wanted to do something to show our grandchildren and great-grandchildren the legacy of education. That’s what is important. Some people take for granted they can get an education. Education has always been very, very important to us. Jimmy was very instrumental in a lot of programs that Tech didn’t previously have, and I wanted the grandkids and the great-grandkids to understand that legacy. They need to understand what it means and to understand their grandfather.”