In the late 1990s, then President Westmoreland began calling for friends of Ouachita worldwide to pray that a family would fund an endowment for the new School of Christian Studies. This prayer was answered in 2000 when Chesley and Elizabeth Pruet of El Dorado, Arkansas, pledged $3 million to endow the school. Out of gratitude for the Pruet’s generosity, the Ouachita Board of Trustees voted to name the new school the Pruet School of Christian Studies. “The Pruets are selfless people,” said President Westmoreland in his announcement of the gift, “but their generosity is legendary.”
Mr. and Mrs. Pruet were indeed well-respected for their contributions to education, the arts, and health issues. Chesley Pruet was a successful businessman, dealing in oil and gas as well as ranching. He served in various capacities with such organizations as the Boys Club of America, the Razorback Foundation, the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts, and even as president of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. Elizabeth Pruet served as a three-time Ouachita trustee, and was active in such philanthropic causes as the National Committee for the Performing Arts, the El Dorado Education Foundation, and the establishment of the South Arkansas Center on Aging.
The Pruets were long-time members of First Baptist Church of El Dorado, and are survived by two daughters and six grandchildren.