Cooper Scholarship Is a Cause Close to Colorado Couple’s Hearts

by | Nov 16, 2019 | Alumni, Announcements, Gifts, Outreach & Impact

Ric Cooper (left), Trish Brown Joyner (center) and Bill Joyner (right) at the 2009 Towers of Old Main event.

Ric Cooper (left), Trish Brown Joyner (center) and Bill Joyner (right) at the 2009 Towers of Old Main event.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Bill Joyner and Trish Brown Joyner of Westminster, Colorado, believe that education is essential to the development of a person’s life. In 2007, the couple established the Richard F. Cooper Endowed Journalism Scholarship in honor of Trish Brown Joyner’s former classmate, Ric Cooper, who was the first in his family to earn a college degree.

Now, a new $250,000 estate gift from the couple will add to the scholarship endowment in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences and count toward Campaign Arkansas, the $1.25 billion capital campaign to advance academic opportunity at the U of A.

Originally from Grapevine, Texas, Cooper lost his parents at age 16 and was raised by his aunt. After transferring to the U of A as a sophomore from Southern Methodist University, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Fulbright College. He then went on to graduate from the University of Arkansas School of Law and spent his career working in Fort Smith, first working as assistant general counsel for Donrey Media Group and as senior vice president and general counsel for Arkansas Best Corporation.

“Ric is someone I have always greatly admired,” Trish Brown Joyner said. “He is the first one of my peers who I can remember admiring for something of substance. When we created this scholarship, we wanted it to attract students who had the kinds of backgrounds and experiences that Ric had. This is the philanthropy that is most important to us.”

Bill Joyner, also a first-generation college graduate, added, “The process of learning a trade or skill is very important. We support all aspects of education – whether informal or formal – because it helps people grow and become well rounded.”

Cooper says scholarships – and the support he received from individuals at both universities – made an incredible difference in his ability to complete his degree as a first-generation college student.

“I know from my own experience that being picked for a scholarship helps build confidence,” Cooper said. “When I heard that Trish and Bill were naming their scholarship after me, I was honored and surprised. It made me pause and think back on those who had helped me along the way. This became a life-changing realization for me.”

This reflection led to Cooper establishing three scholarships of his own at the University of Arkansas – one named for Trish Brown Joyner, one in honor of his aunt, Barbara Ann Zuber, and one in recognition of David A. Cawood, the Razorback’s sports information director from 1971-1974 who brought Cooper with him from SMU to the U of A. Cooper also matched the initial contribution from the Joyners when they created the scholarship in his name in 2007.

“Establishing my endowed scholarships was a very meaningful way for me to acknowledge how others had helped me,” Cooper said. “It’s a wonderful way to say a very public ‘thank you’ to those people and help others like myself.”

The Richard F. Cooper Endowed Journalism Scholarship provides financial support for sophomores, juniors or seniors who are pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in journalism at the university and who exhibit records of academic success.

“What a wonderful and incredibly meaningful legacy of both friendship and philanthropy that Trish, Bill and Ric have created together,” said Todd Shields, dean of Fulbright College. “We are so grateful for their ongoing support and this latest gift from Trish and Bill will help even more of our amazing journalism students to succeed in their studies and beyond.”

Trish Brown Joyner transferred from the University of Arkansas during her junior year and returned to her home state, graduating from Texas Tech University. She is a former member of the Fulbright College Advisory Council and a lifetime member of the Women’s Giving Circle.

“Arkansas has always been special to me,” Brown Joyner said. “Ric and the U of A inspired me.”

Bill Joyner is a graduate of Purdue University. He and his wife are members of the Chancellor’s Society and are included in the Towers of Old Main, a giving society for the university’s most generous benefactors. They are also counted as Thoroughreds for their 11 years of consecutive giving to the university.

Ric Cooper is a life member of the Arkansas Alumni Association and is also included in the Towers of Old Main.

For more information about the Richard F. Cooper Endowed Journalism Scholarship, or to make a year-end gift to support it, please give online now, or contact Fulbright College’s Office of Development and External Relations at 479-575-3712, or email

A version of this story also appeared in the U of A’s Newswire publication.

Jennifer Holland

Director of Communications, College of Education and Health Professions

479-575-3138 //