Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee drew many Tuesday as the featured speaker at the event to endow the John W. Allison Entrepreneur Series at the University of Central Arkansas.

The event, attended by business and civic leaders, and about a dozen students, raised $126,000.

In a surprise announcement at the end of the event, Allison’s family told attendees they would match the funds to endow the program at $252,000.

Huckabee’s remarks centered on the importance of feeding the entrepreneurial spirit in the next generation of students, some of whom he asked to stand from their seats in the audience.

He said of the many successful entrepreneurs and business minds that made up Tuesday’s crowd at the McCastlain Ballroom, the most important in attendance were the students.

He spoke of his own experience as a first generation high school graduate, and of the teaching he received from those who placed trust in his abilities at an early age.

He hailed the engagement entrepreneurial series’ efforts to introduce juniors and seniors of UCA’s College of Business to leaders they could learn from as he and Centennial Bank founder Allison had.

"That’s why this program is so important. ... I believe out of this program you are getting people who can teach ... the realities of business," he said.

And what it is to "sign the front of a paycheck," instead of the back.

The series was founded in 2006 through an endowment of First State Bank, now Centennial Bank in Conway, and was created to expose students to "successful men and women who have distinguished themselves in business by their entrepreneurial abilities."

All speakers in the program are Arkansans selected by the series advisory panel.

Junior and senior students in good academic standing are eligible to apply.