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Tell Our Story: UARK Federal Credit Union Celebrates 50-Year Milestone
Thursday, April 2, 2015 7:00 AM

Tell Our StoryUARK FCU

: Then-teller Gina Williams while working for UARK FCU in 1993.

In the early 1960s, Fount Frederick, along with other employees of the University of Arkansas Physical Plant, began collecting funds in an envelope with the intention of starting their own credit union. When someone wanted to take out a loan, the employees would pass around the envelope collecting the necessary deposits.

In 1965, the credit union was officially formed and with its federal charter became UARK Federal Credit Union.

UARK FCU Building
The original UARK credit union building, circa 1965.

In early 2000, the employees of the credit union discovered that their CEO had been running an investment scam and "self dealing" with an auto dealership in Little Rock, of which he was part owner. The valorous employees turned in their boss, and he was charged with $11 million in money laundering and tax evasion.

During these trying times, the credit union's capital dropped from more than 14 percent to a dismal 4.53 percent. Thankfully, the NCUA agreed to let the credit union stay open and work under a net-worth restoration plan.

UARK FCU Youth Month
Participating in the 2015 Credit Union Youth Month. Left to right: Collections Manager Ashlee McCue, Teller Supervisor Lisa Hodges, and Loan Officer Amy Braswell.

Their loyal member base stuck with them through the tough years of low dividend rates and higher fees, while employees brought pens from home and recycled scratch paper for notepads.

With dedicated staff like Gina Williams and Sarah McCue working long hours to collect as much as they could on the bad loans, and volunteers like Mike "Moose" Davis who served on the board for 26 years, UARK was able to scratch and claw its way back to the 10 percent capital they enjoy now.

CEO Gina Williams with 2014 Employee of the Year Loan Officer Brock Ratton and VP Sarah McCue.

"Our credit union went through a tough time," said Williams, who rose to become UARK's chief executive officer in 2001. "We learned the necessity of being proactive. Our credit union is generally on the front line of regulatory changes, new technology, and new services; but most importantly, we are very proactive in taking care of our members and meeting their wants and needs."

More recently, UARK Federal Credit Union and its 10,000 members are excited to be purchasing land to construct their own building for the first time in 50 years.

UARK FCU Moose Davis
The late Mike "Moose" Davis who devoted 26 years of service on UARK FCU's board of directors.

"Thanks to the support of our loyal membership and a dedicated group of volunteers," said UARK vice president Sarah McCue, "we are excited to have the opportunity to expand facilities to accommodate growth."

Today, UARK is strong with 47 million in assets. Despite being a fairly small credit union, they are proud to be labeled "complex" due to the wide variety of products and services they offer.