$2 Million Gift in Honor of Dr. Oliver

An anonymous donor has given $2 million to John Brown University

By Lucas Roebuck
6/28/2018 4:47:42 PM

Keeping Faith Campaign Update

An anonymous donor has given $2 million to John Brown University for the creation of a new endowed faculty chair.

The Dr. Gary J. Oliver Endowed Chair in Marriage, Family and Relationship Studies is named for Dr. Oliver at JBU. Dr. Oliver is a university and seminary professor, psychologist, author, executive director of the Center for Relationship Enrichment (CRE) and professor of psychology and practical theology at JBU. Dr. Oliver will also be the first person to hold this endowed chair.

“We are pleased to honor Dr. Oliver for his lifework of research, writing, teaching and speaking to encourage strong and healthy marriages, families and relationships,” said Dr. Chip Pollard, JBU president. “We are also deeply grateful to God for the blessings from this anonymous donor and for reaching this milestone in the campaign. This endowment provides resources in perpetuity focused on one of the most critical building blocks of our society – the family.”

Over time, the endowment will provide for the full-time chair position, in addition to providing resources for the CRE and teaching in JBU’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

“The study of families and relationships teaches us how to support healthy families and how to heal broken relationships,” said Dr. Oliver. “I am humbled to know that thanks to this generous gift, the important work we do will continue long after my tenure.”

A biography on the lifework of Dr. Oliver can be found at:


During a ceremony to announce the gift on the JBU campus, a video tribute was played that included reflections of Dr. Oliver’s lifework by several members of the extended JBU community.

“I would certainly describe him as a man of heroic faith, a man of prayer, a man who walks with God and who feels a real daily mission to encourage others,” said John Brown III, former JBU president and board member.

“He’s not only really good at what he does, he’s really good at doing what he says,” said Kai Togami, Senior Director of Organizational Effectiveness at Walmart Stores, Inc. “And therein lies the difference between (Dr. Oliver) and other practitioners.”

“He’s a man who believes in a very real and living God and it’s displayed in his enthusiasm for life, his joy, his humor,” said Dr. Robert V. Cupp, pastor of Fellowship Bible Church of Northwest Arkansas and JBU board chairman.

“Gary is someone I have always learned from and I anticipate I will continue to learn from,”said Dr. H. Norman Wright, marriage, family and child therapist. “His impact is going to be lasting.”

“His passion is such that he continues to pursue the calling to care for relationships of others to be Christ-centered,” said former JBU president Dr. Lee Balzer.

“And I think the chair is a wonderful way to not only honor Gary, but to make a statement that we want his legacy, his leadership example, to continue for many years to come at John Brown University,” John Brown III said.

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