FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — An endowment of $1 million was gifted to the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas dedicated to the upkeep and maintenance of the famous Old Main building on campus.

According to the university, the gift from Carl and Marlys Fallen will allow Old main to “continue to be a beacon of higher education in Arkansas for generations to come.”

“I’ve always looked at Old Main as the centerpiece of the university,” Carl said. “It’s just the iconic campus building for me, and I know for other people, too.”

The U of A’s oldest building is a primary feature of the Fayetteville skyline and can be seen from miles away. Groundbreaking for construction took place in 1873 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

Following deterioration of the building in the 1970s and 80s, a $10 million restoration brought Old Main back to full operation and stature in the spring of 1991.

Carl says the building’s 149-year history and presence in the Ozarks are especially meaningful, as he grew up near Fayetteville and had a long-held desire to attend the U of A. After military service following his first year at the university, Carl completed his degree in 1963 and enjoyed a successful career with Tulsa Oil and Gas Company, where he met Marlys.

“When I returned from the military and enrolled again, one of my classes was in the Old Main auditorium, and I remember that very well because we had to do a show-and-tell speech,” Carl said. “I was not a speaker, but I thought I could give them something none of them had seen before — that is to show them how a parachute works.”

He then said he went down to Drake Field and asked if he could borrow one of their parachutes. “With 20 or so [people] in the class, all sitting in the auditorium, I was the first to speak. I went through my spiel and showed how it worked. That experience sticks with me to this day,” he said.

The U of A says The Fallens have financially supported several family members who sought a college degree in addition to funding The Carl and Marlys Fallen Access Arkansas Scholarship, which is available to students from Elkins High School who pursue a degree at the U of A.

“This remarkable gift from Carl and Marlys will have a potentially centuries-lasting impact on our campus,” said Todd Shields, dean of Fulbright College. “Old Main has been ‘the light on a hill’ for higher education in Arkansas for nearly 150 years, and this gift will help ensure it will for another 150 years and many more after that.”

For more information about the Carl and Marlys Fallen Old Main Endowment or to make a gift to support it or the college, contact Fulbright College’s Office of Development at (479) 575-3712 or fulbright@uark.edu.