University of Arkansas Fort Smith
1928 â€“ 2012
University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
Billy D. Higgins, Stephen Husarik, and Henry Q. Rinne
ÂŠ 2012 University of Arkansas - Fort Smith All Rights Reserved
Funded in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council Printed in the United States of America by BPR Book Group ISBN-13: 978-0-9860285-1-9 ISBN-10: 0-9860285-1-7
AC K N OW L EDGMEN T S â€˘ 3
Acknowledgments We have based our history of the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith on the words of those who shared a connection with it and whose lives were touched by this excellent institution. Students, faculty, administrators, trustees, and supporters have contributed to this college for more than 80 years, through its incarnations as Fort Smith Junior College, Westark Junior College, Westark Community College, Westark College, and the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith. Carolyn Moore Branch, former vice chancellor for institutional advancement, initially advanced the idea of interviews with alumni that form the basis of this oral history. These interviews describe the life of the university and the people whose bravery, determination, foresight, folly, and humility made the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith the remarkable institution it is today. The authors have noted that UAFSâ€™ most valuable innovations are the product of people who care, working together in a university environment. Throughout the more than eight decades of our university, the same theme persists: deliver high-quality educational programs to the students of our service area. Many people stepped forward with invaluable assistance to the authors during the course of our work. More than 170 faculty members, students, administrators, and alumni generously agreed to sit for interviews, donating their recorded memoirs to the project. Our first goal as authors was to accurately reflect their candor and their wit. Librarian Carolyn Filippelli developed an indexing system for the archives, and 32 honors students worked with her in archive creation and oral history collection methods. Haley Wilson, a student participant in the ScholarPreceptor Program, acted as coordinator. Wilson
scheduled and conducted interviews and carried out dozens of other organizational tasks as well. Her dedication and initiative ensured the success of the Oral History project and of this book itself. Pat Turner wrote the Arkansas Humanities Council grant request that funded this project in part. Genelle Newton and Robert Wilson oversaw the budget and provided the final accounting for the grant. Kathleen Edwards helped the authors stay on schedule. Arenda Yancey and Becky Burris were the first designers that helped shape the manuscript into print form. Laura Wattles designed the book and made valuable editorial suggestions. Jeff Harmon and the Marketing and Communications Department put the finished manuscript into publication for the University. The UAFS Foundation provided financial support and encouragement for the project. Throughout the long process of creating a history out of more than a hundred interviews and documenting the facts, many have assisted the authors with interviews, transcriptions, photo searches, scheduling, and, most important, copy editing. Those numbers are many, but some must be mentioned by name, including Linda Mills Boyd, Andy Fox, Carolyn Holdsworth, Sondra LaMar, Judy Massey, Tim Wall, Nancy Moore, Dorothy Frost, Bill Baker, Kim Bishop, Patti Habener, Shelley Blanton, Martha Coleman, Margie Hicks, Beverly Gilstrap, Jeanne Stevens, Lynn Dickey, Jo Ella Douglas, Claudia Plunkett, Helen Seibold, Carolyn Hankins, Carl Hulsey, Kat Wilson, and Corey Krasko. To all, we authors express our deep gratitude. Our wish for you, the reader, is that you gain as much enjoyment from reading the book as we did preparing it. Billy D. Higgins Stephen Husarik, Ph.D. Henry Q. Rinne, Ph.D.
4 • U NIV E R S IT Y O F A R K A N S A S - F O R T S M I TH : TH E F I R S T 85 Y EAR S
TABLE O F CONTENT S PA R T I : F O R T SMI TH J UNI O R CO LLE GE , 1928–1958.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 The Pioneers........................................................................................................................................................7 Transfer Quality..................................................................................................................................................9 During Depression Years.................................................................................................................................11 Luella Krehbiel...................................................................................................................................................11 Extracurricular Interests..................................................................................................................................13 Tuition.................................................................................................................................................................14 J.W. Ramsey and Elmer Cook Administrations...........................................................................................15 The New Deal and New Quarters..................................................................................................................16 Streamlining.......................................................................................................................................................18 Wartime..............................................................................................................................................................23 Victory and Veterans........................................................................................................................................27 The Last Years Under the Stadium.................................................................................................................31 The Site at Grand and Waldron......................................................................................................................33 Incorporation as a Private College.................................................................................................................33 Years of Struggle................................................................................................................................................36 The Alumni........................................................................................................................................................37 Lucille Speakman..............................................................................................................................................40 Cook Hands Off to Vines................................................................................................................................41
PA R T I I : I N T O THE MO DE R N E R A , 19 5 8–1974.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 4 Transformation..................................................................................................................................................44 The New President............................................................................................................................................44 Technical-Occupational Education................................................................................................................48 Integration..........................................................................................................................................................51 Becoming a Public College..............................................................................................................................54 “... because he was beloved.”............................................................................................................................59 Accreditation.....................................................................................................................................................60 Nursing Comes to Westark.............................................................................................................................65
PA R T I I I : THE CO MMUNIT Y CO LLE GE E RA , 1974–1998 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Ben Whitfield: The College in Transition.....................................................................................................70 James Kraby: National Recognition Comes to the College........................................................................71 The Fort Chaffee Refugee Education Program............................................................................................73 The Breedlove Building and Its Artistic Impact...........................................................................................75 The Miss Westark Pageant...............................................................................................................................79 The Houses That Westark Built......................................................................................................................80 Community Service and Continuing Education: A Source of Westark Non-Credit Programs...............................................................................................81 Westark Anniversary Celebrations.................................................................................................................83 International Students at Westark..................................................................................................................84 The First Online Student Registration...........................................................................................................87 Westark’s Computer Archivist........................................................................................................................88 An Early Faculty Experience with Microcomputers...................................................................................88
F OR EWAR D
Joel Stubblefield: Strategy and Growth..........................................................................................................89 Boreham Library...............................................................................................................................................91 Growth of the Westark Foundation...............................................................................................................93 The University Center: Home to Upper-Level College Courses...............................................................95 The Millage Election of 1990: A Turning Point in Westark History........................................................99 Growth of the University Center..................................................................................................................101 Math-Science/University Center..................................................................................................................102 Growth of the Business and Industrial Institute........................................................................................104 Computers, the Campus Network, and the Internet.................................................................................105 The Donald W. Reynolds Plaza, Tower, and Campus Green...................................................................106 Unique College Status....................................................................................................................................109 Westark in 1998...............................................................................................................................................110
PA R T I V: W ES TA R K CO LLE GE ATHLE TI CS , 1928–2006.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 PA R T V: TRA NSITIO N T O UNIVE R SIT Y S TAT U S, 1997–2005.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118 PA R T V I : THE F I R S T YE A R S O F R E GIO N AL U NIVERSIT Y, 2006–2012.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 2 “What’s past is prologue” –William Shakespeare.......................................................................................135
I N D E X .. . . . . . . ................................... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 6 A P P E N D I X . . . . .................................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 4 A: Student Enrollment from 1928 to 2012..................................................................................................144 B: Oral History Interviewers.........................................................................................................................145
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1928 The college opens on September 13 with enrollment of 34 students. J.W. Ramsey, superintendent of Fort Smith Public Schools, also serves as first president of Fort Smith Junior College. 1929 School colors (blue and white) and mascot (Numa the lion) are adopted. The first yearbook, The Pioneer, is published. 1930 The first class of nine students graduates, and Luella Krehbiel joins the faculty of the high school and junior college. 1931 Enrollment reaches 108. 1932 Sidney Blakely edits the Numa, the new University of Arkansas - Fort Smith yearbook. Luella Krehbiel founds the Theta Phi Kappa honor society. Fort Smith Junior College has its last fall of intercollegiate football. 1934 Tuition rate is $50 per semester for 10 hours or more. The National Youth Administration begins to provide school-related jobs for students. FSJC joins the American Association of Junior Colleges. 1935 Student extracurricular activities include borrowing a truck for a swimming outing at Lake Fort Smith. 1936 Lillian Wilkerson writes the Alma Mater lyrics for FSJC. 1937 Junior college students begin to meet in classes under the new football stadium. 1938 Junior college students attend an International Relations Club conference in San Antonio. 1939 Junior college student and A Cappella Choir president Pierce McKennon joins the Royal Canadian Air Force as war breaks out in Europe.
PAR T I : F OR T SMI T H J U N I OR COL L EGE, 1928– 1958
FORT SMITH JUNIOR COLLEGE, 1928–1958
Fort Smith Junior College classes first met in classrooms on the second floor of what is now Darby Junior High School. It was then the high school facility, until the new high school (now Northside) was completed approximately two weeks later.
The Pioneers On a warm late summer morning, Harold Pinckney walked from his home on Belle Avenue, turning west on Grand Avenue. Pinckney had registered as a student in the brand new junior college which was temporarily housed in the senior high school (now Darby Junior High). Thirty-three other students joined Pinckney as classmates that first year, which began on Sept. 13, 1928. These young men and women from Fort Smith, Van Buren, Greenwood, and Booneville had decided to continue their education close to home, expressing confidence in a new educational venture. The group included 18 men and 16 women. Among them were Pinckney, Kenneth Brown, Nell Joyce Hecker, and Mary Louise Stough (Scurlock), all of whom later participated in the 1997 Westark Oral History Project. With this charter class, Fort Smith Junior College (FSJC) began a journey that led to its development as one of the nation’s premier two-year colleges.
In 1928 the city’s state-of-the-art $500,000 high school building located at 2301 North B Street was nearing completion the day junior college classes began. The school board and superintendent agreed that this new facility and its accompanying public school budget would easily justify the addition of college-level instruction “for the next few years,” as the 1930 catalog stated. Board members decided against a proposal to name the new educational facility “Lindbergh High School,” commenting that Fort Smith Senior High School (now Northside) would be the logical and official name of the school. The idea of local junior colleges spread into Arkansas and neighboring states from Missouri and Illinois, where the junior college movement had been gaining momentum. During the prosperous 1920s, the United States had undergone a change from a primarily rural nation to one where most people gathered in towns and cities. Naturally, occupations and workplace demands had changed as a result of these altered demographics. Though Arkansas was one of the last states to become urbanized, Fort Smith ranked second in the state in population and in
8 • U NIV E R S IT Y O F A R K A N S A S - F O R T S M I TH : TH E F I R S T 85 Y EAR S
production of manufactured goods. Local educators and city leaders recognized that industrial trends would require education and training beyond a high school diploma. Naomi Stough, who had helped create Parent Teacher Associations at Trusty Elementary and Fort Smith Junior High, was one of many citizens and taxpayers who used their influence and organizational ability to help start the movement for a college in Fort Smith.
extension of the Fort Smith Public School System into collegiate education. On April 30, 1928, at a meeting held downtown in the Goldman Hotel, the school board adopted a statement regarding the proposed higher education enterprise: The plans for the next year contemplate the organization of a Junior College in connection with the Senior High School. This feature will be placed on a tuition basis, however, and will not be at public expense. The normal age of graduation of boys and girls from high school is between 17 and 18 years.
In 1901, William Rainey Harper, Grover C. Hardin, president of the Fort president of the University of Smith School Board, encouraged the establishment of a two-year college in Chicago, had established a junior the new high school facility which college at that university and opened in 1928. A resolution passed encouraged the opening of Joliet by the school board on April 30, 1928, Junior College (Illinois), the first authorized the organization of a junior college in connection with the senior publicly supported two-year college. high school. In President Harper’s “Panacea for Small Colleges,” he recommended A great many parents would that those four-year colleges whose much prefer that their sons and daughters get their resources were limited, and whose curriculum was first two years of college training at home, which evaluated as weak, should convert to two-year would not only give the parents the opportunity of schools. Stephens and Lindenwood colleges in being with their children longer, but will provide Missouri followed that course of action, and their these two years of college training at a lower cost success convinced other small private and churchthan if they were sent away to a college or affiliated four-year institutions to consider the twouniversity. Our Superintendent and High School year format. For his vision, Harper became known Principal have made a thorough study of this plan as the “father of the junior college movement,” and a and have the endorsement of the authorities of the dialogue developed among U.S. educators about University of Arkansas in working out various restructuring higher education to give better service details. Already enough of the present class of to high school graduates who wanted to continue seniors have indicated a desire to take the first their education. year of Junior College work here to assure the establishment of the institution for 1928–29. During the early 1920s, debates over reform included a strong argument that secondary schools might Nell Joyce Hecker, who enrolled at Fort Smith Junior be organized on a 6-4-4 basis, extending the years College when it opened in 1928, said: for public education to 14. Publicly supported junior colleges played a role in this format, some viewing My decision was based on two factors: one was the first two years of college as little more than financial and the other was that my parents didn’t grades 13 and 14. The Goshen (Ind.) School Board want me to go far from home. Money was hard to and Californians Alexis Frederick Lange and Walter come by. My daddy worked at the Fidelity Coal C. Eells had in common the concept of combining Mine around Greenwood in the wintertime, and the last years of high school with the first two years in the summertime, he farmed. A well-known of college. attorney here, Mr. G.C. Hardin, stayed with it until he got the junior college off the ground, so Grover C. Hardin, president of the Fort Smith my parents decided that I could go. The next year, School Board, learned of these ideas and applied the I went to teachers’ college. logic to this area. He advocated that the high school building then being planned include facilities and classroom space for a junior college. Public opinion in the city supported Hardin’s position and approved
PAR T I : F OR T SMI T H J U N I OR COL L EGE, 1928– 1958
Transfer Quality Two concerns immediately faced high school administrators as they sought to establish a college curriculum: quality of instruction and accreditation. Fortunately, Fort Smith had an exceptionally gifted and dedicated group of high school teachers. The school board did not hire instructors expressly for college teaching, but assigned 10 with master’s degrees to teach both high school and college classes. Historian and former student J. Fred Patton remarked: Fort Smith High School had one of the best faculties in the state of Arkansas, one of the best in the country. Some of the students went on to Yale, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Michigan, Ohio State, and others.
Both the university and Fort Smith Junior College required of entering freshmen a minimum of 15 units of high school credits in acceptable subjects, which had to include English, plane geometry, algebra, and history. Pre-engineering students were required to have one additional credit in mathematics. Full-time students at FSJC, those carrying 15 hours or more—the normal load then being 16 hours—paid $70 per semester, or $140 for the year. The college offered no courses during the summer. Harold Pinckney described his move to the University of Arkansas in a 1997 interview:
I went up to Fayetteville and all my hours transferred. Most were used as electives. Only two of us took calculus at junior college, Margaret Whittlesey and myself. We both got B’s in the first half of the course, but in the second half of the course at Fayetteville, I flunked. I got my bachelor’s The competency of instruction degree in mechanical engineering was, by all accounts, consistently in 1933 during the depth of the Harold Pinckney was one of the first nine students to graduate high, a happy situation that bore Depression, so there weren’t any from Fort Smith Junior College. directly on the other major conjobs available, and I moved away He transferred to the University cern; although Fort Smith High shortly afterwards. I went first to of Arkansas and completed his held accreditation from the Washington, D.C., and then later bachelor’s degree in engineering, blazing a path that would be North Central Association, to Salem, Oregon, where I was successfully followed by many nothing in that charter autovery much surprised to find out other young students. matically covered the budding that Margaret Whittlesey, who junior college curriculum. In had been in my calculus class, fact, transferability of hours was living here in Salem. She earned became the measure of the junior college’s had married the superintendent of the state deaf credibility. Most students and graduates of FSJC school. And, of course, I went to visit her. intended to transfer to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. If that institution accepted hours earned During years that the two student bodies shared the at the junior college, then a major goal had been same new building, college students mixed with the met. The agreement between the two schools came far larger high school student population in the about, with the university registrar informing Fort hallways, auditorium, and cafeteria, but not in acaSmith Junior College officials: demic classes. The junior college students produced a yearbook, formed athletic teams and clubs, adoptA maximum of fifty-six hours of credit will be ed a mascot, and began to create a special identity accepted by the University of Arkansas. No credit for themselves. Traditions bloomed that carried is given by the University for a grade of “D.” over year after year. Students receiving credit for fifty-six semester hours in the University of Arkansas are given In an October 1929 meeting with Dean of the Junior Standing, and if their grades permit, will College Elmer Cook, students selected a lion as their be given the privilege of taking seventeen semester mascot and renamed their yearbook the Numa. Tom hours so they may complete all work for the degree Walton, currently speech instructor at UAFS, comin two years. mented that while the yearbook was first called The Pioneer, students made the decision to change its
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name to the Numa because of class President Harold Mott’s preference for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ use of the Latin word for “lion” in his Tarzan books. Kenneth Brown remembered about the choice of school colors: I was in on the voting. I voted blue and white. Where other choices were concerned, red and white was the high school, and I voted against orange on account of Texas. Arkansas has always been very competitive against Texas. Sporting the newly adopted colors, Brown said the basketball team played several high school teams and won about half the games, and athletics kept to a “small scale” in the first year. Coach Ben Mayo had ideas for improving both the play of his team and the caliber of opponents in subsequent years.
From the outset, course offerings prepared students either for transfer or for trade occupations in the community. The first college catalogs listed auto mechanics, woodworking, mechanical drawing, and printing as courses available alongside traditional liberal arts offerings. Though only two students took the calculus class, a large number of them enrolled in physical education and Spanish. According to Brown, the girls wore bloomers in the P. E. classes and exercised in the high school gymnasium. The gym, as described in The Pioneer, had “bloxKenneth Brown attended Fort on-end flooring … long-wearing, Smith Junior College directly splinterless, and resilient.” Junior after high school. After completing two years of higher college students shared both printeducation at the junior college, ing and journalism instructors and Brown went to work for Weldon, facilities with the high schoolers. Williams & Lick, where he Brown was a student in the class remained until his retirement. who went on to a successful career with one of the nation’s foremost printing firms, Weldon, Williams & Lick, based in Fort Smith.
The debate team, captained by Harold Mott, split its matches as well, traveling to Little Rock and Russellville trying to out-argue opponents on the rhetorical question, “Resolved That the English Cabinet Method of Legislation Is More Effective in England Than the Committee System is in the United States.”
Class of 1930
The class of 1929 wrote letters for the yearbook that prophesied the college’s future success. Mott, for example, foresaw that “many a willing shoulder put to the wheel” had laid a firm foundation for an institution “worthy of the name Fort Smith Junior College.” Indeed, later in the decade, the college catalog described transfer opportunities with presti-
PAR T I : F OR T SMI T H J U N I OR COL L EGE, 1928– 1958
gious institutions such as the University of Chicago, the University of California, Northwestern University, and Columbia University.
During Depression Years With wide acceptance among potential students and senior institutions, the twoyear college movement gained momentum as the Great Depression spread across the country. In California, 15,000 students attended the state’s 34 junior colleges that had come into being during the previous decade. Armies of unemployed workers and college-aged youth from the general population rapidly swelled the pool of people attracted to junior colleges throughout the United States.
Hazel Presson entered Fort Smith Junior College in 1930 as a freshman. She declared herself a journalism major and took English classes under Luella Krehbiel. She would later return to Fort Smith Junior College as an instructor in journalism, write several textbooks, publish a novel titled The River Is a Wicked Witch, and write a collection of short stories.
By September 1930, more than 1,200 students had enrolled in Arkansas’s seven recently founded, taxpayer-supported two-year colleges, most of which were lodged in public high schools. Arkansas had no specific laws regarding junior colleges, but the attorney general of the state issued an opinion that legalized the operation of such institutions within the public school system. Thus, an opinion rather than a statute formed the authorization for the tax money funding of Fort Smith Junior College for the first quarter-century of its existence. This tenuous legal arrangement, however, was called into question in 1949.
made all the other work even more interesting.” Presson, herself a lifelong teacher, published several textbooks and, in 1993, a novel, The River Is a Wicked Witch. She commented, “When we read Jane Austen in Miss Krehbiel’s class, I decided that I just wanted to write like that.” Presson remembered the closeness of teachers and students at the junior college, praised the good foundation that she received, and said, “I really treasure the years I was there. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.”
Photographs of the 1930 class revealed character and confidence in the faces of the students. According to the Numa, college women “carried on sports in several different fields. The first of these activities was soccer. Then in succession came basketball, volleyball, tennis, and golf.” The men’s team, “small, but snappy,” contributed to excitement on campus as it competed with St. Anne’s Academy and other local rivals with “an unsurpassed amount of pep and push.”
The name Luella Krehbiel became synonymous with outstanding English instruction at Fort Smith Junior College. Krehbiel taught at the junior college from 1930 until her retirement in 1960. Former students invariably mention the springboard effect she had upon their academic lives. Today, the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith presents the Luella Krehbiel Award for excellence in teaching to adjunct faculty who have been nominated by students and selected by their peers. Nominees must demonstrate qualities embodied by Luella Krehbiel: a thorough knowledge of subject matter, dedication to student learning, and devotion to high standards of instruction. In fact, so great was the shadow cast by this remarkable teacher that over the years when alumni, students, and community members consider the strengths of the institution, her compassion and high standards of instruction are the qualities that most often top their lists.
That year, a freshman journalism student, Hazel Presson, edited both the yearbook and the student newspaper, The Lion’s Din. She was on the basketball team because she “was the fifth girl who could pass the physical. The extracurricular activities, of course,
Naomi Stough, an initial patron, gave an example of how local citizens lent support to the junior college idea. Not only did her daughter Mary Louise attend the college, but the family invited Luella Krehbiel to dinner after her arrival in Fort Smith and formed a
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close and lasting friendship with the new teacher, whose credentials included a master’s degree from the University of Kansas.
grades. Rosalie Schmieding Platt, a student of 1933–34, said: A lot was expected of us because we knew this was our only opportunity to really get into the workforce and use our education to do what we might dream of doing. So at least the group of friends that I had really did work at it.
Bernice Kizer, who holds the distinction of being the first woman elected to a judicial position in Arkansas, enrolled at FSJC in 1930. Later, as a member of the Arkansas legislature, she was able to significantly influence legislative action which benefited higher education and the college. Judge Kizer remembered: Mary Louise Stough enrolled
From December 1928 until the beginning of the fall term in 1936, junior college classes met on the second floor of the Fort Smith Senior High School building. The number of high school teachers assigned as college instructors varied according to enrollment.
The study hall accommodated in the first class of Fort Smith Junior College. Her mother, 12–15 people at one time at the Naomi Stough, organizer most. We were so informal. It of the first PTA at Trusty would be such fun to go to study Elementary School, was typical hall because we could talk, we of the Fort Smith citizens who enthusiastically supported The 1932 class included Sidney could visit, and then we planned FSJC from the beginning. Horner Blakely, characterized by parties. Our group would go on a classmate as “a big boy who does Mount Vista and have a steak fry. big things in a big way.” Blakely edited the 1932 It would be a nice outing. We had so few people Numa, declaring in the foreword that he wanted to that it was easy for us to get together. We made show in the “more dignified annual … as much our own program planning. advancement as the college itself has evinced.” Judge Kizer reminisced about Luella Krehbiel: Blakely and the following year’s editor, Ralph McMurtrey, evidently felt that a river ran through I thought she was so wonderful. Just truly magnifiFort Smith Junior College territory. As a frontispiece cent! English wasn’t one of my best subjects, but for the campus section in both the 1932 and 1933 I enjoyed it. She taught from the book A Tree annuals, they featured a blurred photograph of the Grows in Brooklyn, and we were doing a review Arkansas River taken from a rock overlook. Visible that impressed me then and just stayed with me; in the distant background, the Van Buren bridge one line went “As the twig is bent, so will the tree connects the twin cities. No future Numa editor incline.” She [Krehbiel] certainly bent some nice associated river and college in any sort of geographitrees. cal theme after Blakely and McMurtrey’s mysterious symbolism, even though the Arkansas River had Because of the efforts of Luella Krehbiel, Ben Mayo, been a vital part of the early history of the city. Peggy Packard, and other effective teachers, community citizens recognized Fort Smith Junior Blakely eventually completed his Ph.D. in English at College as a place where quality education could be the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, obtained at a bargain price, and by 1932, the number returning to Fort Smith Junior College after having of students had risen to 109. Kizer remembered: held a position on the faculty of Delta State Teachers College in Cleveland, Miss. Blakely was 6´2˝ with a One young man from Shamrock, Texas, came up willowy build and a dry sense of humor. He once here to go to school. I never could figure why he told a student reporter who was polling instructors would come from Shamrock, Texas, to Fort Smith about “apple polishing” that in at least one instance to go to junior college here. But he did. it did some good. Blakely explained: Courses offered included a heavy dose of languages: English, Latin, Spanish, and French. History and mathematics rounded out most schedules. Students learned to put in considerable effort to make good
One particular student hung around me after class just to shoot the breeze, until he got interested in the class. Before long, his themes improved and his grade became better.
PAR T I : F OR T SMI T H J U N I OR COL L EGE, 1928â€“ 1958
Football team of 1932: Dyer, Fine, Ford, White, Fayne, Narisi, Hogan, Galloway, Robinson, Cox, Woodruff, Singleton, Adams, Bowman, Eshelman, Mapes, Wilson, Narisi, Molinare, Keith In the early years, the college fielded teams in several sports, including basketball, tennis, and golf, that sometimes competed on the intercollegiate level. The football team lasted for three years: 1930, 1931, and 1932. The team traveled to play about half of its games on the road.
Taking Blakelyâ€™s course and passing it became a milestone for many junior college students. Having met his demands for academic excellence, the student who transferred to a four-year school found himself or herself well-prepared to meet the requirements in English necessary for completion of the baccalaureate degree. Bernice Kizer saw her own children take English from Blakely. His employment with Fort Smith Junior College in 1955 represented an oft-repeated career path for alumni, many of whom came back to fill faculty and staff vacancies. In his later years on the faculty, as Humanities Division chair and as an associate dean, Blakely played a key role in developing successful college strategies for the initial North Central Association accreditation of the 1960s. Other notable examples of this return-to-the-campus career impulse include the late Chancellor Joel R. Stubblefield and controller Genelle Newton.
Extracurricular Interests Americans in the 1930s, faced with grave economic problems at home, had little patience for issues of world importance. Although the Depression reached global dimensions, they preferred to search for solutions to worldwide problems on a strictly national basis. Arkansas voters elected congressmen and legislators who considered isolationism a better policy than internationalism. Federal and state courts in preceding decades had given legal justification to the segregation of races in education and in other social settings. The student body at Fort Smith Junior College, evenly divided between male and female students, had little cultural diversity and no racial mixing. Most students graduating from Fort Smith Senior High School had not traveled far from home at this stage of their lives. As to the administration of the college, the all-white, all-male school board appointed superintendent of schools J.W. Ramsey as president of the college. Elmer Cook acted as both dean of the college and principal of the high school. Mary K. Settle served as dean of women and Clarence McGinn as dean of
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men. Both Cook and McGinn held master’s degrees from Columbia University, and Settle had earned graduate hours there. Continuity of the college administration may have added to the integrity of the institution. Cook, for example, acted as dean of the college for the duration of the public school system phase, and when the college left the high school to become a private college at a separate campus across the city, Cook remained with the college, becoming its second president. John R. Thompson, graduate of Hendrix College and a high school physics teacher, coached the 1932 men’s basketball team, which included Clair Bates, Buddy Singleton, Aldo Molinari, and Marion Narisi (“Eddie Cantor’s rival,” the yearbook said). Eight colleges and the University of Arkansas freshmen team appeared on the 1932 basketball schedule. Fort Smith Junior College fielded an intercollegiate football team in 1930, 1931, and 1932. Clair Bates remembered being offered a scholarship that covered tuition because he played football. Bates, who played linebacker and fullback on the team, recalled: It was fun at the time, during the Depression. That was great; you got to eat good meals on a trip. We didn’t have any bus. The kids that had cars or their parents would take us. Or we’d hitchhike.
Phi Theta Kappa, a campus honor society sponsored by Luella Krehbiel, was founded in 1932 with six members. The society required that members “carry at least 12 hours and rate in the upper 10 percent of regularly enrolled students.” Krehbiel, a member of the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society, valued scholarship, which was a goal of the new society. On Jan. 1, 1947, the National Junior College Honor Society Phi Theta Kappa chartered the Zeta Epsilon chapter at the Fort Smith Junior College campus. The ZE chapter was awarded five-star status, the national society’s highest rating, in the 1996–97 academic year.
Tuition University of Arkansas - Fort Smith oral history interviewees who attended Fort Smith Junior College during the 1930s rarely remember the financial arrangements that allowed them to begin college. Most recall their parents took care of the cost. Mary Louise Stough’s parents lived on a vegetable and flower farm four miles from the campus. She remembered: When I paid for my tuition, which I think was $30 a semester, my mother had saved dimes. Later in the morning, somebody came by each room asking: ‘Who paid their tuition in dimes?’ And I was so embarrassed to say that I was the one who did because that made me different than if I had paid in dollar bills.
Students at Fort Smith Junior College referred to themselves as “Jaycees,” evidently with no fear of being confused with the National Junior Chamber of Commerce. Jaycees accompanied the football team on road trips to places like Wilburton, Okla., and Morrilton, Ark., and after the season helped raise funds to buy letter sweaters. Numa editor Sidney Blakely published a photograph of the football team in which the players stood side-by-side, adorned with smiles, wearing blue sweaters sporting a large white “F” and looking as collegiate as Ivy Leaguers. Arkansas Clair Bates enrolled at Fort Smith coaches and sportswriters named Junior College after graduating Clair Bates, a highly successful— from Fort Smith High School. He played on the football team and one might even say legendary— the basketball team at the junior coach at Van Buren High School, college. Bates later became head to the Arkansas Sports Hall of coach at Van Buren High School, Fame in 1991. where both his women’s and
men’s basketball teams won state championships. In 1991 Bates was voted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Stough survived the embarrassment. Her classmates named her Prettiest Girl, and upon graduation from Fort Smith Junior College, she was hired by the school district to teach first grade at Spradling School. An advertisement for the junior college in the 1934 yearbook specifies that a “flat tuition fee of $50 for 10 semester hours or more” was charged. For nine hours or less, the rate was $5 per credit hour. Tuition and registration fees at the University of Arkansas, according to its 1933–34 catalog, amounted to $50 per semester, the same cost as
PAR T I : F OR T SMI T H J U N I OR COL L EGE, 1928– 1958
paid by FSJC students. Tuition supplied only a part of the junior college budget. School district funds raised by local millage helped pay salaries and operational costs of the college as well; school administrators recorded no fiscal distinction between faculty assignments made to high school classes and to junior college classes. By 1934 Fort Smith Junior College had become a member of the newly formed American Association of Junior Colleges. The dean advised students that FSJC graduates could enter any college in the North Central Association with full credit for their work completed. Junior college students used the high school library, not In concert with his position as superintendent of Fort Smith Public having one of their own. In fact, the Schools, J.W. Ramsey became in 1928 the first president of Fort Smith NCA requirement for a separate Junior College. He continued in the post as president of the junior 4,000-book library for junior colleges college until 1952, when the college became a private institution. became a significant obstacle to accreditation so long as FSJC remained a part of the public school system. Rosalie Schmieding Platt, whom the Numa referred to as an “excellent scholar,” said: We kind of dovetailed high school and JC together because we were in the same facility, used the high school library, and we had at that time the Carnegie Library, which was always very adequate. Carnegie philanthropic activities affected other areas of student life at FSJC. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace encouraged students to form an International Relations Club. Carnegie provided for a London authority on Balkan affairs, C. Douglass Booth, to visit the FSJC chapter. Booth spoke to the club on a pressing subject in 1934, “Fascism in Italy.” Schmieding Platt remembered that most information about international events came from the newspapers: Radio was a big thing, but not international radio. We all sat around and the neighbors came over and wanted to listen to some of the special programs such as “The Creaking Door.” The issues heard aired on radio were local. I remember going to the first talkie movie—Sonny Boy at the Joie Theater [15 S. 9th St.]. Our lives were simple, I suppose, when you think about it. I did sell hats for the Arcade Department Store.
J. W. Ramsey and Elmer Cook Administrations
The 1935 Numa editor, Elizabeth Lyon, developed a theme around early Egyptian civilization. Drawings of the pyramids and scenes on the Nile grace pages that introduce the various sections of the annual. A caption describes Elmer Cook as being “like an ancient Egyptian pharaoh … patiently and carefully directing our courses.” According to a note written in that annual by President J.W. Ramsey, Fort Smith Junior College had graduated 100 young men and women since it was organized in 1928. “In practically every case,” he said, “they have reflected credit on the junior college.” Ramsey himself reflected credit on the institution that he headed. Judge Bernice Kizer recalled him as a “distinguished, mature gentleman, tall, impressive, and kind. I liked him very much and respected him and his family.” Annual reports given in “mass meetings of the public” during those times proudly proclaimed that “the junior college is graduating between 25 and 30
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young men and young women each year.” The public school budget included expenditures for books for the junior college library and science equipment for the junior college. Considerable support came from taxpayers of the community, although from time to time the tuition would be increased to offset operating costs. Jack Hobson, Numa assistant editor for 1935, transferred to the University of Arkansas, where he received a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1937. After a stint as editor of a small daily in Texas, Hobson married his former FSJC classmate Mary Ella Parkinson. The couple made New York City their home and established careers there. Now living in Sarasota, Fla., Hobson said of his junior college years: Our extracurricular activities were limited and cheap. At one point, the student body managed to accumulate a few dollars for a swimming outing at Lake Fort Smith. Jim Foster managed to find a rental truck we could afford, and we rode happily to the lake where we found why the truck was affordable when it surrendered to a multitude of ills, including motor trouble and flat tires. Jim managed to get it into Mountainburg for repairs, leaving “revelers” scattered from the lake to town trying to get home. I recall that our basketball team went undefeated for a year. No mean accomplishment when you consider that half the men of the student body had to be on the team just to fill the bench. I can give great credit to Coach John R. Thompson for this accomplishment with only three men who had any idea what the lines and circles on the floor meant. Rosalie Schmieding Platt recalled that those 1934 “basketball guys came to my home in the evening, raided the kitchen, and ate all the cereal available. Not much money to spend in those days, but an exciting time for all.” Mary Ella Parkinson (Hobson) repeated a theme heard from many FSJC students: “They were two happy years, and I am glad that I was there.” In 1935 the first phase of an enrollment growth cycle began at Fort Smith Junior College that lasted, except for two war years, for 15 years. One reason for the steady year-by-year increase was that in 1934, several New Deal agencies began to provide financial aid to junior colleges.
The first federal funds to find their way to Fort Smith Junior College came through the National Youth Administration (NYA). Similar in concept to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the NYA sought to keep young people out of the national labor pool so that unemployment could be reduced. Jobs for students could be subsidized with federal payment in a style reminiscent of today’s workstudy programs. FSJC students could be paid as much as $7 per month to perform school-related jobs such as laboratory assistant, maintenance helper, or file clerk. In the annual report for 1935, Dean of the College Elmer Cook reported that the NYA paid 21 (25 percent of the student body) FSJC students an average of $67.50 each. Jack Hobson wrote, “This was a time of complete depression in the economy, compounded by the dust storms that ravaged Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma.” Students, Hobson thought, enrolled at Fort Smith Junior College “because there wasn’t a chance to get a job. For most, it was a real stretch with scholarship money, loans, cashed-in insurance policies, anything to get by. Luckily, we were too young to know what was going on, so we enjoyed every minute of it and learned quite a bit in the process. For we few, the junior college was a real salvation.”
The New Deal and New Quarters The amount afforded the college in federal funds doubled the next year, which the administration divided among 36 of the 76 Fort Smith Junior College students. Though NYA spent $2.6 million, that amount actually represented a small investment which across the nation brightened the minds of 100,000 young students, a majority of whom had no financial resources. The program had its critics who denounced it as a socialist trap, a thinly disguised method of indoctrinating college students into New Dealism. However, a politician who saw the advantages of NYA was one of its directors, Texan Lyndon Baines Johnson. In the 1960s, LBJ’s Great Society would have as a cornerstone massive federal expenditures in public education, including generous student stipends and loans.
PAR T I : F OR T SMI T H J U N I OR COL L EGE, 1928â€“ 1958
The Athletic Stadium. Construction on the stadium, which included classrooms enclosed below the south stands, was completed in 1937. Junior college students now had a place of their own. Classes continued to meet under the stadium bleachers until the college moved to the County Hospital site in 1952.
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In 1936, the personable teacher James W. Reynolds replaced Clarence McGinn as dean of men. Peggy Paddock, a favorite junior college instructor, and four other public school teachers were quarantined for a week on doctor’s orders because of an “infantile paralysis scare.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had caught this dreaded disease as a young man, campaigned successfully for a second term. The close-knit students of the junior college continued to build identity and traditions. One club sponsored an alma mater writing contest, won by Lillian Wilkerson.
1937 Numa to Luella Krehbiel, describing her as “a brilliant instructor, a profound student of English literature, and a sympathetic adviser.” An editorial lauded the success of the basketball team coached by John R. Thompson, and the debate team coached by a newcomer to the FSJC faculty, J. Fred Patton, who occasionally hosted informal gatherings for faculty and students of speech and rhetoric at his home.
In summer 1936 an athletic stadium costing $90,000 was under construction on campus just north of Fort Smith Senior High School. The rooms below the enclosed south stand had been designated as the new home of the junior college, and students looked forward to attending class in their own facilities.
A sporting event of significance to junior college students occurred on Oct. 23, 1937, when the Mustangs of SMU traveled by passenger train to Fort Smith to take on the University of Arkansas football team in a game played at “our” stadium, as the Numa put it. The last Southwest Conference game ever played in Fort Smith was won by the Razorbacks 13–0. A large crowd attended the game, including the Frisco Railroad stationmaster who took half a day off for the occasion. The high schoolers and junior college students manned concessions and earned profits for their clubs, the Jaycee student body proudly claimed the stadium as home, and Jack Mills designed a cover for the yearbook that focused on the walk-down entrance to the junior college. The yearbook included an aerial view of the stadium, a pencil drawing of the outside of the builtin classrooms, and a verse commemorating the transfer to the stadium.
As an indication of the discomfort felt by junior college students before they moved out of the high school, one of their social clubs became known as the Swordfish Club, because of its meeting place, the glass-walled vice principal’s office. Those surroundings made students “feel as though they were fish in a bowl,” as the Numa editor put it. The Swordfish Club held initiations and activities such as wiener roasts and steak fries. The International Relations Club (IRC) continued to attract much student participation. The IRC’s 1936 speaker was noted Swiss lecturer and traveler Joseph R. Scherer, who presented a lecture on life in Japan before an assembly of junior college and high school students. Bob Brooksher, who lived on North 21st Street, was preparing to attend Fort Smith Junior College in 1937. He said: We were just getting over the Depression. Everything was kind of stopped because of the Depression. But Fort Smith is blessed with natural gas, so we didn’t know about wood fires. We didn’t know about dirt streets because we had brick streets. The community centered around the downtown area. The Ward Hotel [6th Street and Garrison Avenue] was a big deal when it was built. The year 1937 brought an improved environment for junior college students. Though still sharing the cafeteria, library, printing press, and gymnasium with high schoolers, Jaycees now attended class and congregated between classes in a separate building. Student editor Fayette Locke voted to dedicate the
The debate schedule included an appearance at Fort Smith Junior College by debaters from Texas Christian University.
Streamlining Though the world became more dangerous in the late 1930s, at the same time optimism rippled through American society. The economy had recovered somewhat either due to—or despite— the New Deal. President Roosevelt had rekindled confidence among young Americans. It was a time of exciting technological developments. People traveled faster in more powerful automobiles, on luxury liners, and, above them all, in airplanes. The airplane created a new illusion, and the new illusion had a name: streamlined. Students at Fort Smith Junior College, more numerous and perhaps more secure as the second decade of the college began, certainly sensed the new attitudes. The 1938 Numa, itself streamlined in format, carried a short message from editor Billie Burnett that mentions the word “future” three times.
PAR T I : F OR T SMI T H J U N I OR COL L EGE, 1928– 1958
The future carried enormous change for FSJC and its students. In 1938, Adolf Hitler sent his powerful military machine marching across borders in central Europe. His aggressive actions dictated the immediate fate of the western world. Although students, as always, concentrated much of their energies on Coleridge, Shakespeare, and intramural sports, the largest club on campus and the one whose meetings were best attended continued to be the International Relations Club. Dean J.W. Reynolds, a history teacher and graduate of Iowa State University, sponsored the IRC. A group of students traveled to San Antonio for a regional IRC meeting. Upon return, these San Antonio conference attendees led their classmates in a discussion titled “Isolation, Neutrality, or Co-Operation.” Four intramural sports clubs—Jaybirds, Orioles, Jeeps, and Pooches—competed with each other on campus, and junior college student Pierce McKennon played intramural sports for the Jaybirds in 1938 and 1939. When fighting broke out in Europe in 1939, McKennon left college to join the Royal Canadian Air Force. A year later, McKennon flew the skies over Britain, pitting his Spitfire fighter against Nazi warplanes. When the United States entered the war, McKennon was reassigned to a U.S. Army Air Corps unit in England, where he became an air ace flying the P-51 Mustang. McKennon, a colorful fighter pilot, also played boogie-woogie piano to the delight of his fellow aviators at squadron gatherings. Bill Dickson, McKennon’s sidekick from Fort Smith Junior College, also joined the RCAF. Dickson transferred to the U.S. Army Air Corps as a glider pilot and later flew C-119 transports in the Korean War. Colonel Dickson also served a combat tour in the Vietnam War and, after his retirement in 1968, spent much of his time helping youngsters learn aviation with the Sebastian County Civil Air Patrol. John E. Gleason, president of the sophomore class in 1939, remembered that the college athletes competed in a track-and-field day with the three Fort Smith Senior High School classes one spring day in the stadium. In referring to that event, the Numa noted that Buddy Strozier and McKennon scored 28 points between them in various events. In thinking back to those days, Gleason recalled Kuper Madden,
As a 20-year-old, Pierce McKennon left Fort Smith Junior College when war broke out in Europe. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, which trained him as a fighter pilot and then sent him to England. He flew Spitfires against the Luftwaffe. When the United States entered the war, McKennon transferred to the Army Air Corps and flew P-51 Mustangs. With nine confirmed kills, McKennon was a leading air ace during World War II. At FSJC, he was president of the A Cappella Choir.
his best friend in college. A playful Numa quip regarding young Madden teased him about his red hair and his popularity. Gleason recalled that Kuper Madden was killed in World War II. Not only did athletic competition involve both high school and junior college students in 1938, but the Glee Club and the student newspapers shared activities too. Students in grades 10–12 worked together in apparent harmony with their college neighbors as they jointly produced choral productions and the monthly paper. The members of the College-Hi A Cappella Choir elected Pierce McKennon as its president. Bob Brooksher played on the FSJC varsity basketball team coached by Bruce Bevens and conditioned by trainer Arthur “Shifty” Davis. Davis, a tall, powerfully built black man, was a legendary boxing trainer and coach in the region. He was well known as a former sparring partner of Jack Dempsey. Brooksher earned respect from his classmates, who elected him president of the 1937 freshman class. In 1961 citizens of Fort Smith would elect him mayor of the city. Brooksher’s enthusiasm and civic spirit helped guide the city toward new levels of cultural and educational achievement. During his tenure, with vital support from the public and the Chamber of Commerce, several building projects including
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construction of the library, the civic center, and the extending of runways at the Fort Smith Airport enriched the city. Mayor Brooksher recalled that President John F. Kennedy visited the city in 1961. When President Kennedy landed in 1961 at Fort Smith Airport aboard Air Force One en route to the Kerr Ranch near Poteau, Okla., Mayor Brooksher presented him with a deed to riverfront property that included the grounds of the original fort at Belle Point. This gift on behalf of the city persuaded the federal government to create the Fort Smith National Historic Site. Brooksher recalled: We had an old flatbed trailer we got and put it out there and decorated it up. That was the speaker’s stand. Kennedy came in and landed, and we met at the plane. We went out to the speaker’s stand, and we had about 75,000 people out there. I said, “Mr. President, could you move over here past these photographers so that those people can see you? They’re bedridden, some of them, and they want to see the President of the United States.”
William McCann shakes hands with President John F. Kennedy at the airport on the president’s October 1961 visit to the city while Mayor Bob Brooksher looks pleased.
He said, “Let’s just go out and talk to them.” It was about 150 yards over to where they were, and we walked. About halfway, he turned around to the Secret Service man and said, “NO pictures.” I’ll never forget that. He didn’t want anybody to think he was trying to get publicity out of those crippled people. He went down the line and shook hands with every one of them. Somebody said, “Bob, we got a car here.” So I said, “Mr. President, would you mind getting in this car (it was a convertible) and ride over to where those kids can see you?” He said, “Fine.” We got in the car and drove down the line of students; most of them were elementary, I think. But he was in no hurry. The Secret Service men were saying, “Get him going! Get him going!” I told them I wasn’t going to disturb him. He could stay as long as he wanted to as far as I was concerned. We bid him good-bye. He got on the plane and left. But I presented him the deed to that property. And it was a pretty fancy deed, all printed up. I shudder when I think about all the things we did with Kennedy, putting him in a convertible riding around all those people, and we didn’t think anything about it.
PAR T I : F OR T SMI T H J U N I OR COL L EGE, 1928– 1958
As the college matured in the late 1930s, the student board (an informal group without an official charter) actually felt empowered about decisions affecting student life. Gleason remarked, “Dean Reynolds gave us the opportunity to be ourselves. We, the students, went a long way in running the school.” By 1939 the student board numbered 13—four women
and nine men. Although Dean Reynolds had to “straighten things out” occasionally, the board considered itself “independent of faculty control.” The student board continued to play an important role in governance of clubs and activities, and it had some influence upon curriculum through the wartime years.
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Eleanor Roosevelt visits Fort Smith High School and Fort Smith Junior College. 1941 Students gather at the college to listen to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” speech. Congress declares war on Japan. 1942 Training at Camp Chaffee begins. Enrollment at FSJC drops. 1943 National paper shortages cause cancellation of yearbook publication. 1944 Only four FSJC students progress to a diploma, which showed the impact of World War II on higher education in Fort Smith. 1945 Returning veterans significantly change the student profile and population. 1946 G.I. Bill students fill the classrooms under the stadium, and a Veterans Club is organized on campus. 1947 Shelby Breedlove enrolls at FSJC and plays on the varsity basketball team. 1948 FSJC students enrolled in physical education classes volunteer to coach elementary school teams throughout the city. 1949 Dean Elmer Cook distributes a letter to private citizens asking for support of privatization of FSJC.
PAR T I : F OR T SMI T H J U N I OR COL L EGE, 1928– 1958
sion of the Civil Aeronautics Administration, which picked Beanies. Freshmen at junior up the cost. Ground school was college wore beanies for a oneweek initiation period in 1939 conducted at the junior college, and in the early 1950s. On Sept. 1, 1939, German troops and flying instruction took place invaded Poland. France and Great at the Fort Smith airport. The Britain declared war on Nazi program, offered in many junior Germany two days later. The news colleges throughout the nation, shocked Americans, but neverpromised a pool of aviators for theless 337 respondents to a surthe military in case the war did vey sent by the American spread to this side of the Atlantic Association of Junior Colleges to Ocean. More than 200 local 600 junior college leaders overcadets graduated from flight whelmingly opposed United school. Though Americans States entry into the war. The embraced neutrality as a policy Junior College Journal published toward the belligerents in results of two surveys among 1940–41, military preparedness California junior college students expanded rapidly. Junior collegthat mirrored this isolationist senes developed vocational protiment. Aviation hero Charles A. grams geared to assist growing Lindbergh termed it “one of those manufacturing industries. A few age-old European wars.” Speaking at America First FSJC students joined the National Guard and occarallies, he urged his fellow Americans to “stay out of sionally missed classes in favor of maneuvers that it.” The Blitzkrieg raised grave concerns among peotaught military skills. ple of the United States, but our country did “stay out of it” as long as possible. In April 1940, Eleanor Roosevelt visited Fort Smith and spoke to students of the high school and college. School opened for Fort Smith Junior College on That fall, William Sengel entered FSJC and became September 18. Students began a new custom in the co-editor of both the student newspaper and the 1939, Initiation Week. Freshmen donned beanies Numa. Along with Jean Gray, Sengel had interand catered to sophomores upon request during the viewed Eleanor Roosevelt the previous year for the weeklong initiation period. This rite of passage FSHS newspaper, the Grizzly. Sengel recalled, “The stopped shortly thereafter with the war years, but lecture series which the junior college sponsored beanie-wearing resumed in the 1950s after the colbroadened our horizons at a time when life was lege became a private institution and moved to the pretty insular. Right after the Depression, nobody Grand Avenue location. traveled very much.” To Marian Stephens, a classmate of Sengel, the distinguished people who spoke A number of activities became available to students during the lecture series, including Vincent Shehan during the second decade of the school’s existence. and Dr. Allan Roy Dafoe, caused her to think, “Hey, For instance, the college offered band credit under there are a lot of exciting things out there in the the instruction of Addison Wall, and at least twice a world!” Shehan, a noted war correspondent, year, the 20-piece ensemble entertained the student informed the students about the battles raging in body. The band performed for high schools and Europe. Dafoe, a small-town general practitioner, civic organizations around Fort Smith, attracting told the story of his delivery of the Dionne positive attention and support for the college. quintuplets.
Phi Theta Kappa, the International Relations Club, and the Debate Club sent delegations to regional cities for conferences. Radio and the airplane brought wider exposure to the world. Two new clubs arose in 1939, the Radio Council, which sought to originate radio programs from the campus, and the Aviation Club, which offered a way for “high-flying” Jaycees to get an hour of college credit for pilot training. The Aviation Club was under the supervi-
After graduating from Fort Smith Junior College, Sengel attended Davidson College and later married Marian Stephens, who had continued her college education at Birmingham-Southern University. Sengel earned a doctorate at Yale Divinity School. As married divinity students were rather a rare sight at Yale, the dean invited Marian Sengel to attend classes alongside her husband. Consequently, she audited courses, and as Sengel began his Presbyterian
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ministry in Virginia, she became, according to Sengel, “for 40 years an unpaid co-pastor of three churches.” After former coach John Thompson assumed other duties at the high school, the Lions basketball team cut back on travel, competing only in a city league against independent, industrial, and alumni teams. The 1940–41 school year brought a new coach to Lions basketball, Frank Jones. Jones decided that the schedule should include more intercollegiate games. Except for two years spent in the military during the war, Jones would coach the Lions, as an unpaid volunteer, from that year until 1949.
William Sengel (center) interviewed Eleanor Roosevelt during her 1939 visit to Fort Smith. Other journalism students (clockwise from Sengel) are Jean Williams, Marian Stephens, Wanda Stewart, and J.B. Garrison.
Following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the United States entered World War II. All-out war on such a vast scale absorbed world energy, altered civilization, and substantially changed Fort Smith Junior College in the process. Though students recognized the significance of the United States entry into the war, few could forecast the profound manner in which their lives and the college would be swept up in the war and its aftermath. Sengel and his wife, Marian, remembered listening to Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” speech together with Dean Reynolds at the stadium. Marian recalled that in class right after the speech, Reynolds, who taught history, “assured us we had nothing to worry about. Japan? We could bomb them off the face of the map in nothing flat.” William Sengel characterized Reynolds’ attitude about the Japanese attack: “This is just a blip on history and should not concern us over a long haul.” In order to allay the fears of his students, Dean Reynolds may have downplayed the seriousness of the attack that forced sudden United States entry into the war. Sengel remarked, “Actually, one of the amazing things in looking through the papers was that there was never a mention of Pearl Harbor in the high school/junior college paper.” Marian stated, “It really came home to me when Addison Wall [the band director at FSJC who was
Elected student officers of the 1940 class (from left) are president of the class Norman Hall, Paul Lovoi, W.C. Davis, and Floy Ellis Van Zandt.
also the director of the National Guard band] encouraged his male students to become members of the National Guard band just as soon as they turned 18. My brother Jack did, and, of course, they were the first to be called. Just right away.”
PAR T I : F OR T SMI T H J U N I OR COL L EGE, 1928– 1958
William Sengel added: In the spring of 1942, Coach Jones was called to go down to Mississippi to train, and one or two of the students had volunteered, but there was no real sense of destiny at that early stage. It just seemed that it was business as usual. We had our junior college possum hunt. I borrowed a couple of pickup trucks to take people to Wildcat Mountain [74th Street and Euper Lane]. What an innocent day that was, that a possum hunt was one of the great social events.
Air ace Pierce McKennon, flying from English bases during 1940–42, shot down nine enemy fighters.
Marian reflected, “All I remember is that we had a great campfire and a great picnic. I don’t think anyone went out looking for a possum.” Even in the unsettled war years, Fort Smith citizens, especially those whose offspring planned professional careers and those who recognized the importance of higher education, continued to support the junior college. Nevertheless, the campus environment changed a good deal. The dire newscasts of Gabriel Heatter during 1942–43 ended much of the innocence and isolation of middle America. In February 1942, the school board heard a report from Washington, D.C., that 30,000 army recruits would be assigned for training at Camp Chaffee. An administrator’s statement to the board at that meeting revealed the depth of uncertainty about the nation’s enemies: An air raid in Fort Smith might seem to the public a very remote possibility. In these unusual times, however, we should not take anything for granted. There is not much that could be done in the way of making all the school buildings safe from a direct bomb hit, but we are reinforcing the fire fighting equipment. Enrollment went down at Fort Smith Junior College during these years. Gas rationing curtailed commuter students. Even Cokes were rationed in the lounge under the stadium. Students leaving high school enlisted in the military or took construction and factory jobs. In 1940 the government began building Camp Chaffee, an enormous project involving hundreds of thousands of man-hours to
complete. By 1943, recruits were arriving at the new U.S. Army Training Center, and Fort Smith Junior College co-eds were happily accepting invitations to attend USO dances at Camp Chaffee. A FSJC student club built 200 model airplanes for a defense project, and the college continued with its program of offering credit to aviation students. A part of the Jaycee tradition can be summed up in the slogan “Keep ’em Flying.” Curtailment of noncritical activities during the war years prompted the high school and junior college to combine resources for a single-issue yearbook in 1941–42. Since the high school yearbook was called the Bruin and the junior college’s was called the Numa, editors William Sengel and Tom Osborne settled upon a compromise title, The Pioneer, which had been the name of the initial FSJC yearbook back in 1928–29. Jerry Kerwin, who attended FSJC as a freshman in 1941–42, afterward joined the U.S. Navy, where he was commissioned an ensign and sent to serve aboard a warship in the Pacific Theater. Kerwin earned renown at the junior college with his theatrical talents, the yearbook captioning his photograph with a single word: “Barrymore.” A picture in the yearbook shows a black-face minstrel production undertaken as a fundraiser by the college students. As interlocutor, Kerwin introduced skits and acted as the straight man for the end men’s jokes. After the war, Kerwin resumed his education and, upon completion of his degree in journalism, joined his father in the family luggage and sporting goods
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store on Garrison Avenue. Kerwins became a landmark business in Fort Smith, and Kerwin, a civic leader, supported the college during critical phases of its transitions, first to private financing and then to tax-based public college status. John R. Collins Jr. enrolled at Fort Smith Junior College out of high school in January 1943, he said, “because the college awarded a valedictorian scholarship and that paid my tuition for summer school and the fall semester.” He added: There weren’t very many boys around. I was a little bit younger than most of them [who had graduated from high school], so that meant the rest of them were draft age. They were either drafted or volunteered. You didn’t go before age 18 unless you had parental permission. I wanted to get as much schooling as I could. Collins stayed in school for a year, leaving when he turned 18 to enter the Army Air Corps and aerial navigation school: I came back on leave and was in town for a few days and went to the junior college and talked to some teachers including the lady [Hallie Beth Thackaberry] who had taught trigonometry. Oh, she was thrilled to death. She wanted to know if I would come and talk to her trig class and tell them how important spherical trigonometry was in navigation. In the 1940s, movie-going provided a main source of entertainment and information for students and citizens in Fort Smith. Dorothea Jean Collins remembered: The war was something that you saw on the newsreel when you went to the Joie Theater. Between the movies, they had what they called their newsreel, and that’s all we knew about the war. What drove it home to me was when a classmate of ours was killed overseas. Collins, who worked at her family’s retail store located downtown and dealt daily with the system for buying consumer goods under rationing, recalled: You had little books with little coupons in them, red ones for meat, blue ones for canned goods. Then there was sugar and coffee. Everyone clutched those things so tightly and traded with
each other and tried to make things last. Soap powder was difficult to come by. People would come in asking “Do you have this?” and then on to the next store, but those were grim days. Paper shortages forced outright cancellation of the school yearbook in 1943 and a drastic cutback in size for 1944. The 1944–45 Numa staff of eight females and three males produced a slight 18-leaf annual, and in it, a special note commemorated ten young men who had left the campus to join the Army or Navy. The junior college awarded associate of arts degrees to four graduates in 1943–44 and four in 1944–45. Five of the eight wartime graduates were women. Lahoma Milam Edwards, a student in 1944–45, could remember only two boys being in her class. As an indication of the manpower drain, the 1945 student board had 11 members, nine of them female. One of the males, Ira Jones, was awaiting his military school assignment. By the end of the European phase of the war in May 1945, Jones was in Germany. A photograph of the stadium building’s recreation room showed furnishings that included a ping-pong table, a jukebox, an upright piano, and a Coke machine. It also showed students dancing— probably to songs like Guy Lombardo’s “Sentimental Journey” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B” by the Andrews Sisters. Edwards men-
PAR T I : F OR T SMI T H J U N I OR COL L EGE, 1928– 1958
tioned that students ate lunch, played cards in “that little old room,” and “about once a semester, we’d have a party and have fellows in, if we could find any. They were all off to the war.”
on higher education: “When the hostilities cease, many million men and women who have been members of the armed services … will need either pre-employment training or retraining … financed almost entirely by federal funds.”
Victory and Veterans
American Association of Junior Colleges President Walter C. Eells believed that 35 percent of those returning from service would be looking toward “semiprofessional education, the distinctive field of the junior college.”
Even as the FSJC student body continued to yield young men and women to the armed services, a few veterans were already in the classrooms at Fort Smith Junior College. Enrollment for 1945–46 doubled over the preceding year. The graduation rate increased sevenfold as the war wound down and full demobilization transformed the trickle of ex-G.I. students who were entering college into a gusher. The National Resources Planning Board had foreseen the impact that the end of the war would have
Following victory over Japan in August 1945, the nation’s junior colleges saw expanding enrollments that taxed existing facilities. Veterans literally filled classrooms in colleges and universities. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, better known as the G.I. Bill of Rights, was signed into law on June 22, 1944, and provided direct aid to veterans who went to college. The government paid for tuition, books,
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and fees at any approved institution of higher education, plus $65 a month on which a single man or woman was to live. Married students received $90 per month. To those soldiers-turned-collegestudents who were unwilling or unable to leave their hometowns, the local junior college seemed an ideal choice in which to find a civilian career. Fort Smith had a fine junior college available for veterans, and as they enrolled in substantial numbers, a more cosmopolitan and older student body appeared on campus. Many male students, at least on yearbook-photo days, dressed for school in sport coats and ties as had long been the case at FSJC, but post-war photographers found more students who preferred to wear a brown leather flying jacket while clenching a pipe in the mouth. With the maturing student population, the concept of the junior college as grades 13 and 14 of a public school system changed too. As a social manifestation of the changing times, voters in 1947 elected Vivian Powell to succeed Dr. Ralph Crigler on the Fort Smith School Board, which acted as the overseeing body of the junior college. The first woman elected to a board that directed the policies of the college, Powell, served with distinction until her resignation in 1950. Though transfer programs continued as the primary business of Fort Smith Junior College, the institution, like others of its genre, had developed a “terminal education” program as well, and its mission statement reflected that function of the two-year college. Although the majority of students went on to a senior institution to pursue a baccalaureate degree, other students—such as Kenneth Brown and Mary Louise Stough (Scurlock) from the pioneering class—found immediate employment after the twoyear general education they received from FSJC. This capability of preparing students who wanted to enter the semiprofessional workplace defined the “community college,” a concept that concentrated on the uniqueness and specific tailoring of the curriculum in accredited, localized, two-year institutions of higher education such as Fort Smith Junior College.
Harold Raymond “Hal” Smith and “kinfolk.” Smith (second from left with the jug) from Barling attended Fort Smith Junior College as an 18-year-old. Smith played baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1956 until 1961, remaining with the organization as a scout until his retirement in 1998.
According to higher education historian Judith S. Eaton, “The 1940s was a pivotal decade for the junior college.” Eaton described how the transition to the community college took place. The G.I. Bill caused enrollments to increase dramatically, and although the transfer function continued to dominate the curriculum “… much of the creative energy of community college educators was shifting elsewhere—to the growing vocational and communitybased functions.” As transfer students were the mainstay of the institution’s enrollment, the college gave priority to the liberal arts curriculum and sought satisfactory relationships with senior institutions. At the same time in the late 1940s, two-year colleges cultivated closer and more responsive relations with business and industry. Eaton continued, “More attention was paid to preparation for immediate employment than to the development of generic intellectual skills needed for further collegiate work and earning the baccalaureate.” The stories of students who came back from military service to live in their hometown and attend Fort Smith Junior College reveal the sort of postwar choices facing students. Gerald Edwards went from duty aboard an amphibious assault ship in the Pacific to studies at Fort Smith Junior College. According to him, “The principal thing was that I was able to pay for it on the G.I. Bill. I couldn’t have done it without it.” After attending the first semester —which Edwards described as being “a very good experience … Guy Hixson, in particular, I remember was good for business class, and we enjoyed being with him—Edwards decided that he needed “to join the workforce. I went into the construction business, which my dad had started in 1908.” He then gave up the number “1” jersey he had worn on the Lions basketball squad. The yearbook described him as an “ace dribbler.”
PAR T I : F OR T SMI T H J U N I OR COL L EGE, 1928– 1958
Frank Jones, who was paid to coach the high school football team, had resumed his voluntary duty as supervisor of the junior college basketballers. Edwards recalled:
Smith joined the Future Teachers of America Club and played on the varsity basketball team. He remembered the beauty of the Fort Smith Junior College campus in front of the stadium classrooms:
At one of our games, we went up to the University of Arkansas and played the B team. We actually played a really good game. We scored 19 points, and they had 73. I’m sure Frank knew a lot more about football than he did basketball, and at halftime he told us, “Now boys, I’ll tell you what. We’re going to come back out, and we’re going to fast break these guys. They don’t look like they’re in too good of shape, and we’ll run them to death.” Earl Harper said, “Coach, we might run that first team to death, we may even run that second team to death, but that fourth one’s going to kill us.”
Snow in winter, walking around that shrubbery there, a beautiful place. A sidewalk circled around in a big area between the high school and the stadium. They had big shrubs. Snow and ice would get on those, and they would drape down and be the prettiest thing you ever saw. We did homework and studying, sitting out there in the sun at the stadium. Great big ol’ oak trees. We’d sit around under that oak tree studying for our world history final exam. I transferred and made good grades at the university. Oh, when you went to Miss Krehbiel and Miss Speakman, you learned. I could sit in Miss Speakman’s class and just listen all day long, but you had better take notes because she’s going to ask you questions on the final test, and it will be in her notes.
Jack H. Smith, a graduate of Lavaca High School, returned from the armed services to live at home in Barling. He enrolled as a freshman at FSJC in fall 1947. After attending two years at the school, Smith transferred to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville to complete his education degree. His ambition was to be a teacher and coach in public schools: I went to school under the G.I. Bill. We had quite a few married people going to school here then— Dane Riggs, the guy who became president of a Van Buren bank, and Mark Nunley. Both were married. Now going on the G.I. Bill, they gave each one $90 a month plus tuition, books, paper, and pencils.
Jack Smith’s basketball teammates at Fort Smith Junior College included Shelby Breedlove, who later became president of FSJC; Burton Elliott, who became executive director of the Arkansas State Department of Education; Harold Raymond “Hal” Smith, who had a storied professional baseball career with the St. Louis Cardinals; Marvel Rhyne, a Fort Smith businessman and civic leader; Jim Smith, who became head baseball coach at LSU; and Lawrence “Squeaky” Smith, the legendary coach of Fort Smith Kerwins American Legion baseball team.
Graduating class of 1949. By 1949 enrollments had turned upward, and the average age of graduates was older than before the war.
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Coach Frank Jones initiated a program that President George H.W. Bush might later have specified as one of the “thousand points of light.” In afternoons, Jones sent volunteers to work with elementary school students, teaching team sports. This cooperative program involved junior college students who were majoring in education and had ambition to become public school coaches. Jack H. Smith recalled: Each one of us in that class had a grade school in town. We coached the kids in whatever sport was in season—football, basketball, softball, and track—and we competed. I was at Belle Grove, and Squeaky was at Peabody. It was unpaid, a class. We were assigned a school, and we got credit for it. To Smith and many other junior college students, these were halcyon years when a smashing social event might be holding “wiener roasts or having bonfires in Burnham Woods, when there wasn’t a house there.” Smith recalled: We had a spring dance in the basement of the Goldman Hotel. It was quite a hotel back then, and that basement was ideal for a dance and banquet. Students were all eager to do stuff, and we had good attendance at just about everything. We went to Hackett [at Yate’s Ranch] and had a square dance. They were trying to teach us how to do it.
Smith mentioned that all his hours from Fort Smith Junior College transferred to the university except for mythology taught by Ruth Hamilton, which Smith maintained was “an interesting course.” During the 1940s the college administration’s push toward achieving North Central Association accreditation seemed to have slackened. Typically, however, credits earned by students at Fort Smith Junior College transferred readily, not only to those schools mentioned in earlier catalogs, but to other senior colleges such as Hendrix, Davidson, Bryn Mawr, Brown, and Vanderbilt. Joe Smith, a 1950 graduate of FSJC who received an architecture degree from the University of Arkansas, remembered riding the bus from his home in Van Buren to the junior college: Students didn’t have very many cars in those days, and either you walked or you rode the bus. But the buses were quite extensive in and around Fort Smith. You could get most anywhere you wanted to go, all around in the downtown area and out to various places. Commenting on the quality of instruction he received at the junior college, Smith said: You had to learn how to study to stay here, I mean, to stay in class. Miss Krehbiel was one of the primary teachers who taught me to underline. Isabella K. Smith was a little wiry woman who taught math. And, of course, math was one of my favorite subjects.
Cheerleaders of 1950. Men and women cheerleaders and men’s and women’s basketball teams highlighted the extracurricular activities at the college. This photograph was shot outside the stadium classrooms.
PAR T I : F OR T SMI T H J U N I OR COL L EGE, 1928– 1958
The Last Years Under the Stadium The 1948–49 enrollment was the third highest in the two decades of the college’s existence. The next fall, however, saw a sharp drop in student numbers at the college under the stadium, a decline that alarmed officials. Fewer students eligible for G.I. Bill benefits contributed to a reversal of long-term growth and added to deeper problems concerning facilities and funding. Postwar educational theorists no longer envisioned a public school system extending through 14 grades. No Arkansas law specifically allowed for expenditures from public school levies for junior college education. North Central Association accreditation appeared essential for continued success as a transfer institution, but little in the way of public school resources could be allotted to satisfy NCA college requirements. In order to attract more students, the college’s terminal degree and vocational-technical degree programs needed larger facilities than those available at the high school. Changing educational conditions compelled the Fort Smith School Board to deliberate on the future of the junior college. An act passed in 1949 by the Arkansas General Assembly added fuel to the fire. The “Fort Smith College Bill” signed into law by Governor Sid McMath on Jan. 21, 1949, authorized the establishment of a four-year college in Fort Smith.
Shortly thereafter, in February 1949, the Southwest American quoted J.W. Ramsey as proposing an expansion of the junior college to meet a challenge presented by those who might want to establish another institution of higher education in Fort Smith. An editorial accompanying the news release by Ramsey concurred that “the logical [step is to] separate the Junior College from the public school system, establish separate management, and build it into a four-year school.” The law passed in 1949 had specified that any degree-granting school coming into the city must be an older college with at least 10 years of experience in conferring bachelor’s degrees at some other location. To Ramsey and others, Fort Smith Junior College was the logical and preferred nucleus for setting up a four-year institution in this area. In the end, no existing college attempted to move here, but the threat that one could do so made it obvious that FSJC must be able to adapt to meet higher educational challenges and competition that might arise. To complicate the outlook, Americans awoke one summer morning to news of war in Korea. On June 25, 1950, North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel in an invasion of South Korea that would force the United States to intervene by sending combat troops to the Asian peninsula. In addition, the Pentagon ordered an increase in occupation forces in Japan and West Germany. The Harry S. Truman Administration extended the Selective Service System (the draft). This military crisis drained away college-aged men and women.
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1950 The Fort Smith School Board votes to separate Fort Smith Junior College from the public school system. 1951 Sebastian County Quorum Court members agree to lease property popularly known as the county poor farm to Fort Smith Junior College. 1952 FSJC classes open in the new facility in September. A Board of Trustees is appointed, the college is now privately financed, and Elmer Cook becomes second president. 1953 Vincent Narisi heads the first Alumni Association of FSJC. Tom Fullerton becomes a member of the faculty. 1954 Integration of the college is discussed by the Board of Trustees following the Supreme Court decision in the Brown v. Board of Education case. James T. Charles is employed as the collegeâ€™s first full-time professional basketball coach. 1955 History instructor Lucille Speakman arranges for a summer trip to Europe and the Soviet Union. 1956 Planning begins for the first new building of the college, a building that will receive the name Ballman-Speer in recognition of the two board members who raised funds for it. 1957 Enrollment hits 617. 1958 Eugene T. Vines becomes third president of Fort Smith Junior College. 1959 The college begins participation in the National Defense Student Loan Program.
PAR T I : F OR T SMI T H J U N I OR COL L EGE, 1928– 1958
The Site at Grand and Waldron Though some Fort Smith leaders had for some time understood the wisdom of separating the junior college from the public school system and pondered the method by which it could be accomplished, an attack on the status quo from an unexpected quarter provided a timely and decisive push. Charles F. Allen, executive director of the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System based in Little Rock, informed teachers of the Fort Smith Public Schools who had been splitting their workload between college and high school classes that this divided teaching arrangement must be subjected to a new regulation: after 1950 only that portion of the salary used to compensate teachers for their high schoolrelated duties could be applied to their state pension plans. Allen subsequently appeared before the Fort Smith School Board to recommend “divorcing the operation of the Fort Smith Junior College from the Fort Smith Senior High School” and to confirm that the administration must apportion salaries of dually assigned faculty and staff, reporting only the amount applied to high school teaching assignments, grades 10–12, to the retirement system. This policy change hit at retirement funds of not only several faculty members but of Dean Elmer Cook as well. The only other junior college in the state similarly affected by the retirement issue was Dunbar Junior College in Little Rock. As a consequence of Allen’s directive, the school board acted urgently on June 28, 1950, and voted unanimously “to separate the Fort Smith Junior College completely from the public school system and set up a nonprofit benevolent corporation to take over the affairs of the Junior College.” The board stated that separation is “in line with the practice of other junior colleges in the state that are operated in a semipublic manner. The board authorized the president and dean to make the necessary adjustment in college tuition rates required to meet the operating expenses on a separate basis.” These actions by the board set the stage for turning FSJC into a privately financed college.
Elmer Cook and Luella Krehbiel are shown discussing ways to stretch the English department budget. Cook served as dean of the Junior College for 24 years and became the college’s second president in 1952. Krehbiel, who taught English for 30 years, set Fort Smith Junior College standards of excellence in instruction and integrity in student relations.
Incorporation as a Private College The school board immediately filed a petition for incorporation with the Circuit Court, Fort Smith District, and on June 30, 1950, J. Sam Wood, circuit judge, accepted the petition and granted the incorporation of “Fort Smith Junior College, a body politic.” These developments in summer 1950 clarified the future of the college. A newspaper article in the Southwest American dated July 2, 1950, described the incorporation as the “first step in the direction of setting up the college as a separate institution.” The full-time college faculty for the 1950–51 school year—Luella Krehbiel, Lucille Speakman, Ruth Hamilton, and Isabella K. Smith—would be paid only from funds generated by the college. The three classrooms under the stadium allowed for a maximum enrollment of 175 students, attending day and night. For the time being, the college stayed in the stadium adjoining the high school, but the public school district would be the host rather than the partner of the junior college. Furthermore, the fact that the college must now finance itself primarily through tuition income suggested that either increases in tuition or increases in student enrollment or both must follow. Additional classroom space and facilities not available at the high school site would have to be found.
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Elmer Cook, who had worked in the junior college since its inception in 1928 and who would resign his position on the high school staff to stay with the college in these formative years, led the way by initiating a building program in 1950. Cook and civic friends of the college knew that the time had come for the college to find new quarters. Joe Smith remembered the students’ contribution to Cook’s fundraising efforts. “We started the building fund in 1950. We had a concession stand in the building [stadium], and we ran that for the building fund.” Members of the Fort Smith School Board acquired a second responsibility by forming themselves into the Board of Trustees of Fort Smith Junior College, which held its first meeting in July 1950. The Board of Trustees set tuition at $100 per semester, approved a budget that included a salary schedule for administration and faculty based on revenues received from a projected full-time student body of 170, and earmarked $1,200 as rent payable to the school district for the stadium classrooms. The board reluctantly concluded that no scholarships for students could be made available except for those that might be arranged by soliciting private donations. The college administration tightened its belt. Scraping by financially became the standard operating procedure for the next few critical years. When the Board of Trustees met again in October, the enrollment of 123 students came up less than anticipated, a shortfall that dictated a cut in faculty salaries below $3,100 for the nine-month session. Dean Cook received less than the $4,550 salary originally slated. During this meeting, members discussed canvassing for a new site for the college. President Ramsey pointed out the incompatibility of keeping the college in its present location with the ongoing growth of the high school. The board decided to draft a bill to put before the next legislative session of the Arkansas General Assembly that would permit Fort Smith Junior College to procure all or part of the county poor farm property on Grand Avenue and Waldron Road. In the meantime, Cook’s building fund drive had now expanded to include acquisition of those 15 acres at Grand and Waldron. Sebastian County officials referred to that property as the County Hospital and used it as an infirmary and home for elderly, destitute citizens. Large trees and scrub grass covered much of the ground around the County Hospital. A few able residents tilled up small plots to grow vegetables for use in the hospital’s kitchen, which prompted Fort Smithians to call the place the “county poor farm.”
Coach Jim Charles (right) became the college’s first full-time coach and physical education instructor in 1954. Shown with him in his office in the basement of Old Main are two of his premier student-athletes for the 1956 season, Charles Angeletti (left) and Jim McGee, both of Greenwood High School. Angeletti, a Fulbright Scholar, is now professor of history at Metropolitan State University™ of Denver.
Now under the leadership of Bruce Shaw, the Board of Trustees took no action regarding the site in the October 1950 meeting, but for the first time the actual future site of the college had been identified in official minutes. Later in the month, Shaw called another meeting at the Ward Hotel and appointed Frank Beckman “to visit the buildings at the County Hospital, Grand Avenue and Waldron Road, and make an estimate as to what would be necessary to convert that property to Junior College use in the event it could be acquired by purchase or lease from the county poor farm.” In January 1951 the Arkansas General Assembly passed legislation enabling the Sebastian County Quorum Court to enter into a lease agreement with the privately funded junior college. Cook and his backers estimated that $75,000 would be needed to remodel existing buildings at the County Hospital and provide adequate alternate facilities for the 30 elderly occupants of the home. Cook informed a panel of citizen activists that the county “was reluctant about negotiating a lease until it had assurance that there was sufficient financial backing to support the venture.” T. Leland Hunt responded by commit-
PAR T I : F OR T SMI T H J U N I OR COL L EGE, 1928– 1958
ting to a substantial contribution for the fund, commenting that the school would “be the best investment a business or businessman could make toward improving community life and business here.” Other Fort Smith businessmen—such as Jim Alexander, Troy McNeill, Dansby Council, E.B. Sparks, and Sam Phillips—agreed with Hunt and immediately rose to the occasion, opening their own checkbooks and inspiring fellow citizens to contribute to the fund drive. This action initiated a fruitful, long-term relationship between Fort Smith’s college and its business community. The groundswell of support for Fort Smith Junior College convinced the Sebastian County Quorum Court under the leadership of County Judge R.J. Strozier to lease indefinitely at a nominal cost the 15 acres of property needed by the college. But even with strong public backing and what would prove to be a fortuitous location, much work remained before the college could open its doors at the new facility. The Board of Trustees conceded the necessity of remaining in the stadium rooms for the 1951–52 school year, but promised that it would do
“everything in its power to encourage the campaign for funds” so that county property would be ready for college use in September 1952. Looking ahead to the next year and beyond, 1952 Numa editors Nancy Yarbrough and Margaret McAlister used photographs of the County Hospital buildings to open and close their yearbook, the last edition to be cut and pasted together in workrooms beneath the stadium. A poignant caption under a stadium picture in the yearbook read, “One Last Look.” A FSJC club entered a float in the 1951 Christmas Parade on Garrison Avenue. With a theme designed to get the ball rolling on a new campus, the float featured students bursting out of the top of stadium classrooms and a banner reading “Let’s Build a New Community College.” Fort Smith Junior College alumni admitted an affection for their bleacher-centered campus. Studying between classes in the sun on the seats, cheering for intramural teams as they played on the turf, walking along the greenery that lined the campus, dashing across the street to grab a hot dog for lunch at Joe
1951 Float. “Let’s Build a New Community College”
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The Admin and Old Main.
Korkame’s Famous Chili, catching a ride on a hay wagon headed down “B” Street at Halloween, playing table tennis, and dancing in the recreation room constituted wonderful activities that formed some precious memories for the more than 2,000 FSJC alumni of those years.
Years of Struggle Bruce Shaw and the Fort Smith School Board appointed a new Board of Trustees to carry out the promise of relocating the college for the 1952–53 school year. Now, for the first time in its history, the college’s fate would be entirely in its own hands. The initial Board of Trustees for Fort Smith Junior College included Circuit Judge J. Sam Wood, Clyde Randall Sr., R.A. Young Jr., James Ward III, and T. Leland Hunt, all extremely capable and successful men representing law and business communities within the city. These prominent men, along with Cook and his faculty, spearheaded the transition to the new quarters. Two old but spacious buildings sitting at the front of 15 acres of tall grass and hardwood trees made up the college environment in the first year at Grand and Waldron. The largest of the two buildings, dubbed Old Main, had two stories, an attic, and a basement. The school had acquired adequate space, but rooms had to be refitted for their new educational use. A
few were in woeful condition. A limited amount of funds allowed some professional plumbing and remodeling work, but volunteers did much of the painting. Faculty members, who because of low enrollment in these years of financial struggles had received $200 or less as a monthly salary (annual salaries having been abandoned by the administration because of uncertainty about revenues that far in advance), showed up in the summer to remove cracked and falling plaster from their classroom walls. Often students accompanied instructors on such outings, talking over aspects of history or art as they worked with their hands, sweeping and spackling. J.C. Hoffman remembered that his father, who was a latherer, had put the plaster walls up when the building was new, and in 1952 he was employed to take down the same plaster. Ted Skokos recalled that William “Bud” Harper, a student just back from the service, “painted the classrooms and because there was no money, tried to get paint shops” to supply materials for the project. Bud Harper, who graduated from Fort Smith Junior College in 1954, served as Sebastian County Judge from 1983 through 1997. Harper said: I came to Westark on the Korean G.I. Bill. I had no idea what I really wanted to do. Junior college gave me an opportunity to look at myself and what my capabilities were out in the real world. I developed friendships that lasted a lifetime. Miss Krehbiel gave me confidence in myself and in my writing skills. Dr. Ted Skokos had been a
PAR T I : F OR T SMI T H J U N I OR COL L EGE, 1928– 1958
lieutenant, and he was the basketball coach. He went around asking for volunteers and donations to get paint so we could paint the buildings. We had really just two good permanent structures here. We had a student union downstairs in the basement with a big Wurlitzer jukebox, and it had the latest records on tap. This was during the Eisenhower years, and they were mellow years. Music back in that period was soft and dreamy, just before the rock-and-roll era. We were still enjoying music at parties from the big bands, Woody Herman and Stan Getz and those. I had another favorite instructor, E.T. Vines. He had been in World War II as a captain. I had business statistics under him. He brought in a lot of personal experiences; he just made you feel comfortable. Of course, back in those days, everybody smoked. It was real cool to smoke, so we could just smoke in his class and bring our coffee. For veterans, for guys who had just gotten out of the service, we felt like we were being treated like adults, like we should be, you know. We were 21 or 22 years old. Henry Cook, a student at the time of transition who later transferred to the University of Arkansas and earned a geology degree, worked as chief geologist for Arabian-American Oil Company, now Saudi Aramco, until his retirement in 1994. In that year, he returned to Fort Smith with his wife, Bonnie, who then enrolled as a student at Westark. Cook said of Tom Fullerton: He was short, dark-haired, and always had a grin on. He was the history professor, and he was also the coach of the basketball team and the baseball team. We had a baseball field about where the parking lot now for the math building is. Someone conned old telephone poles, and they set those in the ground, and we scrounged up some chicken wire and made a backstop. We literally built our own baseball field, although we didn’t play our games there. We used that as a practice field. We played at the old Andrews Field, teams like Bacone. We played Joplin Junior College and Little Rock Junior College. According to Ted Skokos, Carnall “Tiny” Gardner, Clarence Higgins, and Jerry Kerwin “approached me one day [in 1952] and said, ‘We know we don’t have any funds, but we need a basketball coach,’ so I volunteered to take over the program. We practiced and played at the Boys Club.”
With the basketball team scheduling its practices and home games at the Fort Smith Boys Club, a cooperative relationship between two prominent service organizations in the city began. The Lions team used the Boys Club gymnasium on Wheeler Avenue until construction of the present field house at the corner of Kinkead Avenue and North 49th Street in 1965. Fort Smith Junior College and the Fort Smith Boys Club split the cost of building the new gym, college athletes sharing time on the floor with “Young Men of Tomorrow” (National Boys Club motto) until the Jeffrey Boys Club moved to its present location on North O Street in 1978 and Westark Community College took sole possession of the facility. The privately financed junior college sought to build higher enrollments by presenting as many activities as the budget permitted. For example, Carnall Gardner, who knew that boxing was big in Fort Smith during the wartime, wanted to pursue a boxing program for the college. Two out-of-town students, Jack Postlewaite and Tommy Montgomery, came to Fort Smith Junior College in 1952–53 when they combined with Warren Adams and Subby Valenti to form a boxing team for the college. During the first year, these four boxers won enough points and championships in the Golden Gloves and Arkansas AAU tournaments to earn for FSJC the Arkansas State Team Championship. In those years, Arkansas Tech, Arkansas State Teachers College, and College of the Ozarks fielded boxing teams. Boxers on scholarship proved to be short-lived, however. Perhaps administrators perceived that a competitive intercollegiate basketball team had better potential to attract students and gain favorable publicity for the college.
The Alumni Anna Kasten Nelson, a distinguished historian who served on the John F. Kennedy Assassination Review Board, wrote her first paper at Fort Smith Junior College in 1950 on Eleanor Roosevelt and the United Nations. The International Club, sponsored by Lucille Speakman, wanted to celebrate United Nations Day. The United Nations being only in existence since 1945, no one in Fort Smith had its flag. Nelson recalled: Lucille Speakman ordered the pattern and my mother sat down at the sewing machine and made
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a U.N. flag, you know, that blue flag. The newspaper [Southwest American] picked it up and ran a picture of us hanging the flag from the pole. Nelson said that her mother was good with that Singer® treadle sewing machine and with it made all of her and her sister Reba’s clothes for school. “We were brought into the middle-class by my mother’s sewing machine!” A remarkable meeting of the Board of Trustees took place on Nov. 10, 1953. Cook attended the meeting as did Eugene T. Vines, who had been recently hired as the college’s business manager. Board members Leland Hunt, R.A. Young Jr., and James Ward took their chairs alongside visitors Franklin Wilder, E.B. Sparks, and Davis Ford. The minutes of the meeting revealed the precarious financial condition of the college. Cook asked board members to approve of minor purchases such as window shades, adding machines, and a water cooler. The bank balance in the capital improvement account amounted to $2,245, and invoices from a contractor and insurance, gas, and other bills exceeded that amount. Hunt suggested sending out letters to a selected group of persons recommending that they “keep their income tax dollars here in Fort Smith by contributing to the Junior College.” These “rank and file” supporters appeared as the best financial hope to keep the college in operation. Hunt eventually would propose organization of a One Hundred Club. To become a member, “an individual would pledge $100 a year to be paid to the college.” The city had refunded the amount paid for a building permit, and Cook had used that $114 to get the library shelves painted. Vines mentioned that the gas bill could be paid and that the “night classes were self-sustaining.” Tuition went into one account to be used only for salaries of staff and instructors. Ward and Young warned that the college should make no further expenditures without the consent of the board. Ward emphasized the need for heavy recruitment of students in area high schools, and Vines noted that he had “made a complete circuit of the senior classes last year, sent out about 700 letters, and made several trips to see individuals in regard to attending the Junior College.” Hunt turned to the visitors and asked them about how to increase enrollment. Wilder responded by saying much more could be expected from the alumni of the college, who “are proud of the Junior College and number over 1,000.”
(Actually, by that time more than 2,000 students had attended the college, and 500 had graduated with an associate of arts degree.) Sparks observed that “last summer the physical plant was not in existence for the students to come out and see.” Its establishment would now “automatically help enrollment.” Sparks suggested adding courses and certificates. Cook mentioned that an Industrial Arts Division and a School of Fine Arts would be added in the future. The board concluded that a “live Alumni Association … would accomplish the increased enrollment.” Fort Smith businessman Vincent Narisi agreed to head the first Alumni Association of the college. During these lean years, the Association raised morale with family picnics and raised funds by selling popcorn at the fair and holding raffles. Endowments and contributions came in from those proud alumni who wanted to see their alma mater grow into maturity. From the time of Harold Pinckney, who transferred to the University of Arkansas and completed a degree in engineering, the story of Fort Smith Junior College had been laden with student successes. Those former students who transferred to complete baccalau reate and advanced degrees elsewhere shared with those who concluded their higher education at the junior college an enormous regard and affection for FSJC, and now they stood ready to return the favor. Nancy Orr, a former Fort Smith Junior College Board of Trustees member and key financial supporter of the college, recalled: Sometimes it was, well, can we meet the electric bill? Can we meet this bill? Can we meet that? In the very first days, it was almost a matter of Board members saying, “Well, I can give so much, to just keep the college alive.” But people started being very generous, and there were those who had the money and would share it. I particularly remember T.L. Hunt was always generous to Westark. He was always generous to Fort Smith. And also Stanley Evans. Ruth Gant, a faculty member, returned a good portion of her salary, “at least $1,700 to the college during the past few years,” according to a statement made by the Board in 1958, recognizing her timely financial support. Alumni support and steadily improving physical facilities helped enrollment climb for the 1953–54 school year to over 200 students, the highest figure since 1948. The Korean Police Action had been
PAR T I : F OR T SMI T H J U N I OR COL L EGE, 1928– 1958
halted by an armistice signed at Panmunjom, North Korea, on July 26, 1953. The G.I. Bill encouraged returning service men and women to enter college as it had after World War II, and the Veterans Club again became one of the largest organizations on campus. Though the college was still scraping by with small salaries for faculty and staff, the future looked brighter. College administrators breathed a little easier. With the appointment of Ed Louise Ballman to the Board of Trustees, the campus environment gained a friend. Ballman focused much of her energy on building and grounds issues, advocating proper care for campus trees and enlisting the aid of the Fort Smith Garden Club in landscaping projects. Ballman’s leadership helped ensure for future students a healthy, attractive setting for their college. Melanie Holt Speer joined the Board of Trustees a year later. Using their great energy and determination, these ladies played a vital role in gaining financial support for the building program. The Ballman-Speer Building, called the Fine Arts Building at that time, opened for use in March 1957 and once was home to the Westark Honors Program. Today, it houses the Fine Arts and Journalism departments of the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith. In 1953–54, Tom Fullerton became a member of the faculty. He taught social studies classes and coached the basketball team. A year later, the college administration was reorganized by college President Elmer Cook. Eugene T. Vines was promoted to dean of the college, with Lucille Speakman and Tom Fullerton assigned, in addition to their teaching duties, as dean of women and dean of men respectively. Students appreciated the understanding and the guidance afforded them by these deans who acted as counselors. Old Main’s basement floor held faculty offices, a snack bar operated by Bess W. McWilliams, a darkroom, and the student lounge—a favorite hangout for students who often filled in spare moments at the card table. Charles Angeletti remembered that in the first week of school, a few students: … from Hackett, Lavaca, and Greenwood were playing hearts at a penny a point. We were gambling in the student union. Dean Fullerton caught us and suggested that was not an appropriate thing to do at Fort Smith Junior College. Since we were new and from places like we were from, he would overlook it. He became
one of my favorite people because to me that was humanitarian. He used common sense and didn’t try to put us on probation or read the Riot Act to us. A lot of people would have.” Sharon Winn recalled: Fullerton did not like the magnolia trees. I mean he didn’t dislike the trees themselves, but the blooms on them, so it was not unusual at all that when they started blooming, students would cut those off, and they’d be in his office. It was just a joke, you know.” Westark’s student center, a multiuse facility at the center of the 1970 campus, bore Fullerton’s name. The building is now home to the UAFS administration. On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren handed down the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision. The unanimous opinion of the justices held that public school segregation was unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. This decision would have a gradual but far-reaching impact upon education systems in the South, and upon American society in general. Within the year, the Board of Trustees of Fort Smith Junior College recognized the advantages of admitting black students to the student body. Minutes of the Sept. 27, 1954, board meeting recorded that a “discussion at length” took place about the issue of integrating the college. The board, promising to take up the matter before the second semester began, decided against accepting black students “at this time since the term was already under way and due to the financial condition of the school.” During the discussion, President Cook informed the board of the results of an informal survey in which “32 students said they would withdraw from school if this [admission of black students] was permitted.” Possible loss of a sizable percentage of the enrollment weighed heavily in the board’s decision at a time when operation of the school depended entirely upon tuition income. Legal segregation had been a fact of life in Fort Smith throughout the 20th century. People might not have liked a discriminatory society, but they were used to it. McKinley Brown, a 1953 graduate of Lincoln High School in Fort Smith, said: Blacks were confined in certain areas. Unless you had specific business over there [in white
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neighborhoods], you just didn’t go. You didn’t really think about it. Whether it was a written law or an unwritten law, you just understood. But I can’t ever remember the feeling of much tension or hostility between blacks and whites in Fort Smith. There were certain things that were off limits to white boys too. A transition concerning the college basketball program occurred in 1954, when James T. Charles (Jim) came to Fort Smith Junior College as head basketball coach. A graduate of Hendrix College and a United States naval officer assigned to the Pacific Theater during World War II, Charles entered graduate school at the University of Iowa, where he earned a master’s degree in physical education. Fort Smith Public Schools employed Charles as director of sports in elementary schools. Later, he coached the high school baseball team until he became director of sports news and host of a fishing program with Fort Smith’s first television station, KFSA-TV, which began broadcasting in black-and-white on July 3, 1953. His position as the college’s first fulltime, full-salaried coach marked a change in emphasis for the basketball program. Coach Charles built his first squad around Bill Wilson and Muldrow’s Bob Blaylock. The team went on to what the yearbook described as the “best season in the history of FSJC.” Former volunteer coach Ted Skokos remembered that Coach Charles “carried the junior college to greater heights. Breedlove came in after him, and we were fortunate that these men stepped up and built the program.” With the blessing of Cook and Vines, who realized that successful athletic programs gained free and widespread publicity for colleges, Charles recruited quality players from surrounding towns. He made numerous visits to high schools, established relationships with coaches, and offered scholarships to selected student-athletes. From Lavaca, Charles attracted Howard Patterson, Edward Graham, Forrest Khilling, and Ronald Green; from Mountainburg, David Ross; from Cedarville, Scotty Nolan; and from County Line, John Wyatt, Lewis Bennett, and Jim Wyatt. Ross, Nolan, and John Wyatt subsequently would, within their careers as educators in Arkansas high schools, coach state championship teams. Greenwood High School graduate Charles Angeletti recalled: Coach Jimmy Charles offered three of us—Jim McGee, Jim Wilhite, and myself—tuition, fees, books, whatever they would offer in scholarships in
those days. So I lived at home for two years, came up here, played basketball, and went to school. During one semester when his starting point guard had difficulty with his English class, Coach Charles accompanied the young man to the home of Luella Krehbiel, instructor for the class. Following the visit, the student-athlete “understood his academic responsibilities a bit better, and Krehbiel was impressed by the commitment to good classroom work of our Athletic Department.” When asked who set those grade-point standards for eligibility in the days before the college had membership in the National Junior College Athletic Association, Coach Charles replied, “I did.”
Lucille Speakman Enrollment began a steady, and at times sharp, upward climb as the college adjusted to its new location and new financing structure. The transfer program continued to attract students principally because of the quality of instruction. Students tended to do well after transferring, and their academic successes, year-by-year and student-bystudent, built a shining reputation for Fort Smith Junior College among senior institutions. Conaly Bedell, a student in the early 1950s who later served two terms on the Westark Board of Trustees, stated: What laid the foundation for the school as it is today was the intense dedication of the faculty. It was just absolutely remarkable. When the college moved to this facility, which was known as the county poor farm, it created a special rapport among those people who were a part of it that endured for decades. Lucille Speakman typified the excellence and the commitment of the faculty during the private college era. Former students frequently mention Speakman’s travels and her wonderful ability to bring her experiences to the students in the classroom. Joel Stubblefield recalled from his student days at FSJC: I had one teacher who particularly impressed me, Lucille Speakman. She taught Western Civilization. Every summer, she would tour Europe at her own expense. She went behind the Iron Curtain before the wall was put up, let alone torn
PAR T I : F OR T SMI T H J U N I OR COL L EGE, 1928– 1958
down. She traveled to the Bosporus. She could tell you about Shelley and show the pictures. She was excited about what she taught and excited everybody. I loved her class. To former student Conaly Bedell, Speakman “had the ability to understand the bigger picture.” Bedell edited the student newspaper, Lion’s Roar, while a student and credited Gladys M. Deare, his journalism instructor at FSJC, for arranging a full scholarship for him Lucille Speakman. An instructor to the University of Tulsa, where he in history, Lucille Speakman became a legendary figure at completed his bachelor’s degree. Fort Smith Junior College and a Bedell went from there to a gradusymbol of the college’s excellence ate degree, and to this day refers to in instruction. She traveled to Gladys M. Deare as his mentor. On Europe in the summers, visiting historical sites by the dozens and the use of familiar rather than observing first-hand the impact formal names, Bedell recalled that of the Cold War upon Europeans. he addressed only Hattie Mae She later served on Westark’s Butterfield, who held a Ph.D., by Board of Trustees. her given name. “Miss Krehbiel was Miss Krehbiel. Miss Montague was Miss Montague. Occasionally, someone would say ‘Lucille’ to Miss Speakman, but then they’d sort of dart out of the room.” Charles Angeletti, now a professor of history in Denver, recalled: Tom Fullerton taught me a lot about teaching. His sense of humor, his way of entertaining, his way of dealing with a large class, or a large group of people, I thought was really good. The person who inspired me the most to study, to learn how to study, and who scared the socks off of me was Lucille Speakman. She became a friend, and after I left here, I used to come back and visit her. She had a great influence on me. Sharon Winn, a business instructor, entered Fort Smith Junior College in fall 1958. She graduated with an associate of arts degree and then attended Northeastern State in Tahlequah, Okla., where two years later she received a bachelor’s degree. Winn remembered: Lucille Speakman was an adviser for a couple of student groups on campus. She would have us all to her house for a Christmas party, and that was a neat thing to do. Fun memories!
Speakman retired from the faculty at Fort Smith Junior College in 1976 after 30 years of service. After her classroom career, Speakman continued her commitment to community and college. She was elected to the Westark Board of Trustees, on which she served until shortly before her death in 1984. Edward Levy, political science instructor at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, owned the Speakman house on North 13th Street and continued the tradition of hosting warm, fun-filled Christmas parties and election night vigils for UAFS colleagues and students. Annually, the college presents the Lucille Speakman Excellence in Teaching Award to a faculty member nominated by students or colleagues and evaluated by the Faculty Senate.
Cook Hands Off to Vines A young reporter for the Southwest Times Record, Dodie Evans, visited the campus between semesters on a snowy day in January 1956. Out in front of the administration building, the smaller of the two buildings in use on the campus, hung a sign facing Grand Avenue that read “FORT SMITH JUNIOR COLLEGE, A Community College.” Inside, while awaiting Dean Eugene T. Vines, Evans browsed in the library located across the narrow hallway from the dean’s office. The one-room library had by this time collected 6,000 volumes arranged on floor-toceiling shelves and was supervised by a part-time librarian, Margaret Prather. Upstairs, the business education classes occupied three classrooms equipped with office machines and typewriters. A bit later, the tall, silver-haired dean greeted the reporter and took him on a tour of Old Main, pointing out with unrestrained pride the fully equipped science classrooms, “second in the state only to the University of Arkansas.” Vines spoke about plans for
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the 8,700-square-foot building already in the architect’s hands that would become the Ballman-Speer Building and home to fine arts classrooms as well as a 400-seat auditorium. Dean Vines mentioned that the spring semester would start on Jan. 30, 1956, with an expected 228 students enrolled in day classes and an additional 135 students for night classes. The reporter interviewed President Cook, who confidently predicted, “There’s no reason why we couldn’t have from 600 to 700 students here 10 years from now. We’ve made mighty fine progress.” Indeed, the school did have enrollment increases. The college’s budget for 1955–56 was $100,000, compared with $28,000 in its first year on Grand Avenue. In 1957 the number of students attending FSJC was a 16 percent increase over the previous year. The next year, the percentage increase would be another 14 percent, bringing the enrollment to 729 students. In fact, Cook’s rosy projection of 700 students by the end of the decade was achieved far sooner than he had anticipated. On that cold January day in 1956, Cook told reporter Evans that Fort Smith Junior College belonged to the American Association of Junior Colleges and was recognized by the Arkansas Board of Education and the University of Arkansas. Cook then pointed out that accreditation with North Central Association “is in the future … Everything is moving along splendidly.” Perhaps Cook was implying that he had almost completed his work at the college. Two years later, Elmer Cook resigned as president of the college. On Aug. 23, 1958, the Board of Trustees met to consider applicants for the office of president of the college. Though little statewide or national advertisement by the college had followed Cook’s announcement of his intention to step down in September, the board had formed a committee chaired by Reverend John E. Shoemaker “to interview candidates for president.” The committee sent letters of inquiry to a group of individuals in Arkansas and surrounding states, selecting five to
interview. Interviewees included Storm Whaley, an assistant to the president of the University of Arkansas; Tilghman Aley, dean of El Dorado Junior College in Kansas; Travis Williamson, dean of Panola County Junior College in Carthage, Texas; Joseph A. Day, superintendent of Westbury, New York, Public Schools; and E.T. Vines. The board convened three days later to unanimously endorse the committee’s recommendation that Vines be appointed as president. In the same meeting, the board named 49-year-old Tom Fullerton, who held a master’s degree from George Peabody University, to succeed Vines as dean of the college. The Board of Trustees manifested its appreciation for Elmer Cook’s long stewardship of the college by retaining him as president emeritus entitled to a small monthly stipend. Conaly Bedell described Cook’s great contribution: He was not a forceful person in the sense that Vines and Breedlove and Stubblefield were, but Cook had an ability, a confidence in people, and at that time the college was so desperately in need of help from the community that the confidence was an important part. I think you have to judge in terms of the era in which they lived and in terms of the circumstances with which they had to deal. Over a 30-year period, the college had been established and found support in the community; earned the respect of four-year institutions to whom it sent numbers of its former students; won the goodwill and financial backing of Fort Smith businessmen; chartered itself as a privately financed institution of higher learning; weathered the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War; and matured in an age of atomic bombs and satellites in space. As its first dean and its second president, Cook had been the college’s primary administrator during these three decades of profound changes that swept across America’s educational landscapes. Now he stepped down, turning the helm over to Eugene T. Vines, who had been a dean for two years and business manager of the college for two years.
PAR T I : F OR T SMI T H J U N I OR COL L EGE, 1928â€“ 1958
1960 Holt Library is dedicated. 1961 First vocational-technical programs are initiated on FSJC campus. 1962 The Manpower Development and Training Act brings federal funds to the state and to FSJC for the support of vo-tech programs. FSJC admits African-American students for the first time. 1963 Talks with Fort Smith Boys Club result in construction of a new gymnasium on the corner of Kinkead Avenue and 50th Street and an agreement for the sharing of the facility. 1964 Amendment 52 to the Arkansas Constitution is passed, allowing creation of community junior college districts. 1965 Sebastian County voters pass a referendum establishing the Sebastian County Community Junior College District. 1966 First state funds are received as a public institution. The name of the college is changed to Westark Junior College. 1967 Eugene T. Vines dies following surgery. Old Main is torn down. 1968 Shelby Breedlove is named fourth president of the college. The Science Building and the Vines Building are completed. 1969 A site visit by the North Central Association evaluation team leads to candidacy for accreditation. The faculty retirement system joins TIAA-CREF. The first nursing students begin a new ADN-RN program. Westark obtains its first computer, an IBM model 360 that holds just 64K of memory.
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INTO THE MODERN ERA, 1958–1974
Transformation In late summer 1968, Westark Junior College President Shelby Breedlove and business manager Jim Bolin flew to Fort Worth, Texas, to appear before representatives of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as part of the application process for a grant to build a new student union. A dozen or so HUD officials sat around a large conference table and began explaining the bureaucratic necessities in a rather condescending fashion, even explaining fundamentals of accounting. As Bolin recounted the event: “They over-explained everything almost to the point that they were telling us, ‘You’re going to have to keep records. Remember the debit side is on the left. The credit side is on the right.’ Just going on and on.” An older gentleman with obvious seniority had been sitting over to the side, quietly observing everything. After listening to the lecture from the HUD officials, Bolin looked over to President Breedlove and said out loud, “Well, Shelby, it looks like I’m going to have to get another cigar box.” With that, the older man almost fell from his chair, roaring with laughter. Breedlove and Bolin walked away from the meeting with a check for $320,000 to build a new student union on the campus of Westark Junior College. The money from HUD and other sources, including state and local tax support, underwrote a period of unprecedented growth for the college. In the late 1950s when E.T. Vines assumed the presidency of Fort Smith Junior College, he led a small, private college with a two-year liberal arts curriculum. Enrollment was around 600 students, and the college faculty numbered just 23 full-time instructors. Financial support for the college was strictly limited to the collection of tuition from the students and private donations from concerned citizens. By the early 1970s, the college had been transformed into a fully accredited, publicly supported community college with an enrollment of more than 2,000 students and a budget of $1.6 million. The curricu-
lum expanded to include vocational-technical programs, nursing and other health-related fields, and a non-credit community service program. From 1965 to 1972, six major buildings were completed: the gymnasium, the Science Building, the Vines Building, the Fullerton Student Union, the Gardner Building, and significant portions of the structures in the Technical Complex. The “junior” college had come of age. The story of this amazing transformation parallels the emergence of higher education as a dominant force in American life in the post-World War II era. Nationally, the community college made higher education accessible to all Americans. In the 1960s, the number of open doors and options among collegiate institutions increased, and more students took advantage of those opportunities. Of course, the Junior College had always been an educational catalyst for the people of the area, providing opportunities to further their education without moving to a distant city. Three major forces gave rise to the transformation of Fort Smith Junior College into the comprehensive community college now known as Westark Junior College: introduction of the technical and occupational programs; amending of the Arkansas Constitution, which allowed the college to draw financial support from state and local taxes; and the process and ultimate awarding of full accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
The New President Despite the usual depiction of the 1950s as a time of prosperity and stability, the decade was filled with uncertainty and struggle for Fort Smith Junior College. Following its move to the site of the former County Hospital, the college continued to wrestle with its financial resources. Dependent solely on tuition and private contributions, the college operated on a semester-to-semester basis; collection of tuition and fees paid the bills—at least, most of the bills.
PAR T I I : I N T O T H E MODER N ER A , 1958- 1974
In July 1958 the summer heat was taking its toll on students and staff at the college, so the purchase of fans was deemed a necessity. The college had a balance due of $503.31 at Speer Hardware, so credit was a little short. The typical solution for this and other problems came from individual board members who opened their own pocketbooks. In this instance, Clyde Randall volunteered three fans, and A. Curtis Goldtrap Sr. provided another $250 toward paying the Speer Hardware account. Later in the same meeting, T.L. Hunt wrote a check for $140.90 to take care of an overdue payment on one of Hattie Mae Butterfield’s pianos. The piano payments were three months behind.
New union. A surplus building from Fort Chaffee arrives on campus in the fall of 1958 to become the new student union. The building served the college community for 10 years. It was replaced by a permanent structure which was dedicated to the late Tom Fullerton in 1970.
Typical meetings of the Fort Smith Junior College Board of Trustees involved sorting through unpaid bills, checking on the collection of tuition, and board members frequently writing personal checks. When Jim Bolin replaced Herman Westfall as business manager in 1962, the situation had not improved. Recalling his first days on the job, Bolin found the school mired in debt: On my desk at the time I had a couple of wire baskets that were full of accounts payable. We did not have the money to pay them. At the time, the institution existed on tuition and faith, and faith won’t buy an awful lot! We did not operate on an annual budget. We operated on a semester budget, which was made out after enrollment to determine how much money there would be.
Interior of the old student union. The building was a gathering place for students passing time between classes.
Herman Westfall, Bolin’s predecessor, faced the same dilemma but remembered that the payroll was always top priority: There were times that I would not be able to pay the bills on a timely basis. We just didn’t have the money to pay them. The Board of Trustees, who were mostly wealthy people, would donate some money. We never did miss a payroll, but there were times that I wasn’t sure if we were going to make it. Because of the scarcity of funds, maintenance and new construction were often deferred and always undertaken with the greatest frugality. A prime example of gaining maximum benefit from minimum resources was the construction of a student union in the late 1950s. The U.S. Army offered surplus buildings at Fort Chaffee for purchase. The college explored the possibility of moving an old barracks to a site directly to the south of the Ballman-Speer Fine Arts Building—a location now occupied by the Breedlove Building. The new structure would provide more space for the students to gather between classes as well as offer space for a much-needed bookstore. According to the minutes of the Board of Trustees meeting in September 1958, the cost of the building would be $500 with $150 needed for moving expense and another $300 for the foundation work on the new site. In their customary fashion, the board members themselves stepped forward to pay for the
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new building, with Ed Louise Ballman supplying the funds. The final expenditure for the building was closer to $5,000 when all costs for remodeling and furnishing were included; however, for a modest sum, the college benefited from a new student union which served the campus for more than 10 years. The quonset hut student union became a regular meeting place for the Board of Trustees and is fondly remembered by former students and faculty. The new student union represented the first capital improvement for the campus under President E.T. Vines. Born in Russellville in 1914, Eugene T. Vines graduated from Paris High School in 1932. Just out of high school, Vines worked alongside his father in Arkansas coal mines, including those in south Sebastian County. When mining jobs grew scarce, he traveled to other states to find work, but soon concluded that if he were to move up in life, an education beyond high school was an absolute necessity. He entered Ouachita Baptist College in Arkadelphia, paying his expenses by working in the kitchen of the college cafeteria. After only two years of college, the war interrupted his education, and he enlisted in the U.S. Army.
Future Fort Smith mayor Ray Baker and Sarah Myers appeared in the 1959 Numa.
During his years in the Army, Vines rose to the rank of captain. He instructed airplane mechanics on maintaining the then topsecret B-29 Super Fortress, receiving his initial training on the third plane to leave the Boeing plant. Vines’ experience in the Army led him to choose a career in educaEntertainment. The jukebox was a tion and solidified focal point of the student lounge in the basement of Old Main. his belief in the value of a college education. In a letter to the students printed in the 1959 Numa, Vines wrote, “Have confidence in yourself, consider material things as the subordinate issues of life, and serve others in whatever you do. Educate yourself with these thoughts in mind and you need have no fear of the future.” For him, education was the key to a life beyond the coal mines of western Arkansas. After serving in the Army during World War II and achieving the rank of captain and staff engineer with the 459th Bomb Group, Vines received his bachelor of arts from Ouachita College in 1948. He began teaching business courses at Fort Smith Junior College in 1952 and served as dean and business manager prior to becoming president. He earned an M.A. and Ed.D. from the George Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee, submitting a doctoral dissertation titled “Community Service Programs in Selected Public Junior Colleges.” Vines was a tireless worker who possessed a vision of what the college could be in the future. Early in his tenure as president, Vines offered a long-range plan for the campus. The plan included utilization of the entire 40-acre central campus bordered by Grand Avenue on the north, Waldron Road on the east, Kinkead Avenue to the south, and North 50th Street on the west. He believed the growth of the college was inevitable, citing a 1958 study by the state titled “Needs of Higher Education Facilities” that projected enrollment for the Fort Smith campus to be between 1,500 and 1,700 by 1970 (actual enrollment in 1970 totaled 1,546 and 1,821 in 1971).
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The continued presence of military personnel on campus prompted the first direct aid from the federal government to assist students at the college. The National Defense Student Loan program was one of the first to offer students (in this case, veterans and those currently in the service) money for college tuition. The Board of Trustees approved the college’s participation in February 1959. Herman Westfall attended the initial meetings in order to develop the procedures for administering the program and quickly realized that the program was so new that no one seemed to know much about the process: When I went to the meeting and they had the government officials there and everything was so new, you’d hear someone ask a question, and they [the government officials] would say, “I think it would be this way; I believe this is what you would do.” Nobody knew for sure. But that program was started, and it was successful. We didn’t have many scholarship programs. Veterans from World War II and Korea attended classes on the G.I. Bill. Another important source of tuition revenue came from the active-duty servicemen stationed at Fort Chaffee who enrolled at the college. At one point, the commanding officer decreed that “any officer who had at least two years
Campus photograph of 1964. This campus photograph features two buildings constructed after the move to Grand and Waldron. They are the Holt Building (right), now home to the English Department, and BallmanSpeer, which houses fine arts and journalism classrooms.
of college would be promoted.” So the evening classes were populated with junior officers, many of whom had received battlefield commissions or had gone through Officer Candidate School, the socalled “90-day wonders.” These young men needed a college education to remain in the service. Despite new government programs, the primary source of funding for the college continued to be tuition and private donations. The first documented discussions of a new library for the campus occurred in October 1958, shortly after Vines became president. The board determined that a suitable structure could be built for $100,000. The college needed to raise at least half of the money to begin the process. A year later, in October 1959, Melanie Holt Speer offered to donate $50,000 to the building of a new library with the provison that the building be named in honor of her parents. The board unanimously accepted her offer and voted to name the new edifice the Holt Library. The new building became the second structure built by the college after moving to the new Grand Avenue campus in 1952. Additional funding for the library was secured from other local donors. Fundraisers were held as well, including a concert by the Stan Kenton Orchestra at the Darby Junior High School Auditorium. The Holt Library served the college’s needs for more than two decades, until a new, more comprehensive library was built.
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Campus photograph of 1965. This campus photograph shows Ballman-Speer.
Technical-Occupational Education During the 1995 renovation of the central campus and construction of the Reynolds Plaza, Tower, and Campus Green, two rows of majestic pine trees located just south of Boreham Library were preserved. These trees not only provide a landscaped corridor leading from Waldron Road toward the bell tower, but also are the outgrowth of controversy in the development of a vocational-technical division at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith. Although several versions of the “pine tree” story have been told, Bill Fitzgerald, founder of the Automotive Technology program, gave this one: Well, there’s quite a story connected with those pine trees that ran adjacent to a ditch where a creek pulled through this campus. When the Old Main building was here, we had a music teacher by the name of Hattie Mae Butterfield, and she would look out the upper story down at the technical division, and she didn’t like the looks of it. So she told Dr. Vines that she didn’t like it, and Dr. Vines argued with her about it, and she kept on and on. Finally, he had those pine trees planted along that ditch. He was instrumental in making that barrier between the Old Main building and
the technical division because she didn’t want to see us. Other observers contend that Butterfield hired her own gardener to bring the trees to campus and plant them. Considering Vines’ control over all aspects of the campus, the latter version is doubtful, but it nonetheless points out a serious rift on campus between the original liberal arts faculty and the newcomers who taught vocational education courses. The great irony, however, was that the introduction of these new programs to Fort Smith Junior College brought the first public funds to the college’s budget, a step toward the college becoming a public institution in 1965. In spring 1960, E.T. Vines and the Board of Trustees formed a citizens’ advisory panel, charging the group with investigating the possibility of starting to teach vocational education at the college. Chaired by Bill Brader, plant manager of the Dixie Cup division of American Can, and comprised of representatives from local industry, the committee immediately recognized the need for a skilled workforce in the Fort Smith area, where industry had a problem finding qualified workers. As a show of good faith, Dixie Cup donated the first $1,000 to support an effort to develop technical programs. Other donations quickly followed, and ground was broken Oct. 29, 1960, for the first of several buildings which later became known as the Technical Complex. The county grant-
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ed a 99-year lease on the property, which is located on the corner of Waldron Road and Kinkead Avenue. Start-up money may have come from local industry, but the idea for the technical division originated with the vision of E.T. Vines. Former Westark President Joel Stubblefield commented on Vines’ reasons for leading the institution forward in the development of vocational and technical education: Vines wanted to get young people out of the mines, the coal mines of south Sebastian County. He had been raised down there, and people died of lung problems. It was hard labor, and he wanted them to have an alternative. He wanted to provide them with technical training. An article published in the local newspaper at the time stated that the purpose of the technical division was “to upgrade the students, increasing their productivity and in two years greatly increasing their earning capacity.” The cost of the building was approximately $16,000, with some portions of the construction costs donated by local firms. The necessity of equipping the technical programs led the college president on a cross-country search for surplus federal machinery that could be acquired through the State Department of Education. The first two programs implemented by the college were in machine shop and drafting. A local group of engineers provided funds for drafting tables and supplies, but lathes and other machinery were brought from across the country. By fall 1961, the college had invested around $27,000 in its technical division for the acquisition of land, a building, and equipment. For this relatively small investment,
the college had obtained capital holdings worth an estimated $186,000. The real value, however, must be measured in the creation of programs that could lead to a better and more prosperous life for students. The first state funding of faculty salaries came in the form of funds provided for night school instructors in the technical areas. Funding remained limited, however, until monies became available from the federal government program known as the Manpower Development and Training Act (MDTA). Passed in March 1962, the act funneled federal funds to each state for vocational training. Arkansas used these funds to start vocational-technical schools in several locations including Morrilton and Ozark. The program provided direct assistance to students attending the classes. Under the guidelines of the program, buildings and equipment could be leased, but only equipment could be purchased. Therefore, Fort Smith Junior College drew its first state support by leasing its newly formed technical division to the state. Operating funds paid for the salaries of instructors and allowed the purchase of other equipment. Despite the lease agreement with the state of Arkansas, the college retained control over the operation of the technical programs, including the hiring of faculty and staff. From 1962 until the college began to receive state funds in 1966, President Vines received a state salary of $200 a month as administrator of the MDTA program. When the school became a state institution, this stipend was
The Tech School as it appeared in the 1965 yearbook.
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eliminated. The board compensated Vines by instituting a housing allowance for the president. Many students enrolled in the vocational classes through the Arkansas Employment Security Division. Funds were made available for retraining workers who had lost jobs, mainly in the local furniture industry. In addition to their tuition, the workers drew support payments while attending classes and, in some cases, were reimbursed for mileage to and from their homes. The MDTA program was a 50-week course of study; upon completion, the student received a certificate. In the late 1960s after the college converted to a public institution and faced tougher standards for accreditation, the technical area upgraded its curriculum and developed courses structured around the traditional academic calendar of 18-week semesters. The first director of the technical area was Leo Olsen, who also taught machine shop. Bob Aston taught electronics, and Leonard Bauman taught drafting. In November 1962, Vines enticed a local automobile repair shop owner to begin an automotive program at the college. Bill Fitzgerald spent his first five months as a volunteer before the funding materialized for the new program. As Fitzgerald remembered: The government released funds through the state. The state reimbursed Westark, so it was sort of funny, you might say, because actually we were working for the college, the government disbursed the funds, and I got paid by the state.
Auto mechanic students work on a car soon after the program started in the early 1960s.
Leo Olsen instructs a student in the technical program. The photograph was taken shortly after the college introduced the technical program on campus in the fall of 1961.
Fitzgerald spoke of obtaining equipment for the new technology program: Much of the equipment we got was government surplus. At Camp Robinson, near Levy, Arkansas, there was an Army Surplus depot. We made several trips down there to get materials. We’d bring back steel aircraft parts and everything else. We built a lot of our equipment back then. As far as the welding shop, we worked on it between classes. Bringing the technical programs to the junior college campus was a major accomplishment for Vines; however, planting a row of pine trees to block Hattie Mae Butterfield’s view did not solve problems that developed with the liberal arts faculty. Many instructors thought that a college campus was no place to be teaching auto mechanics and machine shop, and they further resented the allocation of already limited funds to the new programs. Jim Bolin had only recently arrived on campus as the business manager, but he recalled the envy directed toward the newcomers: In my opinion and in the opinion of many, the tech school, as it was called, was the fair-haired child on campus. They got first choice on everything. Dr. Vines called a meeting one time, and he’d been trying to sell the people with the idea of technical education and likened the automobile to the human body, with heart and arteries, and saying it was just as important. Well, that went over like a lead balloon with the majority of the faculty. The fact that the director of the program had no academic background did not sit well with the
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faculty either. Dr. Vines had a school vehicle, and the director of the tech school, Leo Olsen, had a school vehicle. No one else had a school vehicle to drive 24 hours a day. As if Vines did not have enough problems dealing with faculty unrest over the new technical programs, Hattie Mae Butterfield discovered her salary to be less than the salary of certain male faculty. Butterfield had earned a doctorate, one of only two on campus at the time (Sidney Blakely was the other), and she was paid less than Claud Yancey, who taught business courses. She is reputed to have confronted Vines, arguing her advanced degrees and years of experience merited a higher level of compensation, but Vines allegedly contended that Yancey, a married man with several children, required greater remuneration than the unmarried music instructor. Butterfield, who was a forceful woman and not known for her sense of humor, turned on Vines and reportedly said, “Well, I did not realize that we were being paid to be prolific in those areas. Would it perhaps help if I bore an illegitimate child?” Although no one seems to recall whether Butterfield received a raise, the story illustrates the power and control that Vines exerted over life at the college. Often described as a “benevolent dictator,” Vines managed the campus affairs and made almost every decision, especially in the areas of personnel. His ideas concerning inequality of pay for female employees may seem arcane by current standards, but those ideas were the reality of the times. James E. “Pete” Howard, art instructor, talked about President Vines: Vines was an old ex-coal miner. In fact, he had scars from working in the mines. You get a little scratch, and coal dust gets in, and you carried a blue scar for the rest of your life. So he had little places on his face and his hands where he had blue scars from working in the coal mines. He was a tough guy, and he called me in one time. We’d just been given contracts. He had a bad habit of calling you and saying he wanted to see you day after tomorrow and not telling you what he wanted to see you about. So he called me and asked to see me day after tomorrow and to bring my copy of my contract with me. I’d already turned in the signed contract for the next year. So I brought my copy of my contract and handed it to him, and he opened his desk drawer and put it in and closed the drawer.
I said, “That’s not fair.” He was just intimidating me. Tried to put me in my place, teach me that I’m on the edge and so on. We talked awhile, and he gave it back to me before I left the room. He just had total control. Never really Eugene T. Vines delegated much of anything. He controlled the place and kept it all under his thumb. I don’t mean to say there was anything bad going on. What I’m saying is that it may have been the only way the college could survive at the time. He was doing the only thing he could do to make this thing work.
Integration With the 1954 Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education, the segregationist shield of separate-but-equal dissolved, and the integration of public life in America began. The infamous spectacle playing out in Little Rock during 1957 brought the issue to the forefront as America turned to its educational institutions to lead the way toward integrating minorities into a so-called “whites only” society. Since its inception as an extension of the public school system, Fort Smith Junior College had maintained a policy of admitting only white students, a policy that continued after the school went private in 1950. Shortly after the Little Rock Central High School events of 1957, the college’s Board of Trustees entered into discussion concerning the admission of African-American students. Little of the actual discussion was recorded in the minutes, and the board ultimately decided to table any resolution for admitting students of color. Unfortunately, the resolution was not resurrected at the next meeting and died a parliamentary death. The principal argument raised against admitting African-American students concerned private donations and the fear among board members that certain individuals would cease contributing badly needed funds to the college.
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As the momentum of the Civil Rights Movement grew in the late 1950s and early 1960s, inquiries concerning the admission of black students to the college became more and more frequent. McKinley Brown, who was the first African-American salesperson to work the floor at the Fort Smith Sears department store, had an inquiry made on his behalf. Fred Roebuck, longtime pastor of First United Methodist Church in Fort Smith, asked Brown if he had considered furthering his education past high school. Brown was a 1953 graduate of Lincoln High School, which was the segregated high school in Fort Smith but in reality served an area that stretched as far as Fayetteville to the north and Russellville to the east. Roebuck suggested Brown enroll at Fort Smith Junior College and made several phone calls to request information. As Brown remembered it: Dr. Roebuck said to me, “We’ve got a real school right here, you know. Why don’t you apply there? Let me make a call.” He picked up the phone and called the college and talked to three or four people before someone had enough guts to tell him that at the time they were not taking colored or Negro. But at the same time, I think there were a couple foreign students here that were probably darker than me. Herman Westfall was the likely recipient of Roebuck’s call. As the college’s business manager, he frequently received such inquiries and always disliked having
to inform the caller of the segregated policy then in effect. The wave of change was moving ever closer to the college and, according to Westfall, the impetus for integrating the college came from the faculty: We were a private institution, and there was no real pressure at the time for the college to become integrated. It used to bother me that I would get calls from people that asked, “Would you accept colored?” You know that was the term that they used at the time, and I would say “No,” and that hurt. The faculty got together and voted to ask the Board of Trustees to integrate. The vote was mostly all in favor, but there was this one person who voted against it. But most of the teachers wanted it. Lucille Speakman was a very liberal person, and she was in favor of it. Then the board decided to admit blacks, so before I left, I taught some classes that were integrated. The collective voice of the faculty calling for the admission of African Americans to the college is a noble vision of the time but represents only part of the rationale for integrating. According to records of the Board of Trustees, government pressure of a sort played a significant role in forcing the school to accept African-American students. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, soldiers from Fort Chaffee provided the college with a steady and reliable flow of student tuition, which was still the primary revenue source for the school. The U.S. military services integrated their ranks shortly after World War II,
In the early 1960s, night classes were often comprised of older male students who were either veterans or military personnel stationed at Fort Chaffee. This photograph from the 1962 yearbook shows an African-American student (center, by the window) in what may be one of the first integrated classes at the college.
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and many black soldiers were stationed at Fort Chaffee. The base commander encouraged his officers and enlisted men to further their education by enrolling in college courses, and wanted to continue the relationship with Fort Smith Junior College. However, if that relationship was to continue, the college’s curriculum would have to be open to all Army personnel regardless of race. An ultimatum was addressed to the administration in 1962—admit black soldiers or no servicemen would be allowed to attend the college. Minutes of the Board of Trustees meeting on Dec. 12, 1961, included a statement from Major General W.C. Bullock that: Ten of the men stationed at Fort Chaffee who are planning to enroll in the junior college night school, second semester, are colored. A total of 75 men have made application to attend junior college, and all have to be accepted, including colored, or none of them will be permitted to enroll. The board voted to accept General Bullock’s proposition, contingent on receiving affirmative votes from board members not present at the time. At the next meeting, a report was made recording 17 affirmative votes and one negative, but no indication is made as to whether the black soldiers were allowed to enter classes. Although no specific arguments are recorded in the minutes of their meetings, the Board of Trustees must have wrestled with the same concerns over donor reaction that delayed the issue several years earlier. No further mention of the issue is noted in the minutes until the May 8, 1962, meeting of the board, when the following entry was made: After some discussion concerning enrollment of colored students, a motion was made by [T.L.] Hunt, seconded by Nancy Orr, that colored students be permitted to enroll in summer school. Motion carried. History had been made. Fort Smith Junior College would no longer discriminate on the basis of race. In fact, soon after the decision, all indications of race on official records were eliminated, only to return in the late 1960s when the federal government
demanded reporting of racial statistics of the student population. Jim Bolin recalled problems with reporting racial statistics to the government: After integration, we took “race” off the records because that was the thing to do. Then they had a crew that came in here from HEW [Health, Education and Welfare] wanting to know how many black students we had. We couldn’t tell them, and they didn’t like that. It was about to the point where we’d stand on the corner and do a head count. Anyway, we had to put “race” back on the records. It made no sense at all. Then we were penalized because we were not recruiting in any predominantly black high schools. This was well after Lincoln High School had closed in Fort Smith. The closest one was at Menifee. You know where Menifee is-down below Morrilton. So we went down there and recruited. Here we are a community college. No dormitories. Nobody’s going to drive from Menifee to Fort Smith to go to school. It wouldn’t make sense. But we had to show that we had recruited in a predominantly black high school. The college made no public announcements of the new policy; the school quietly and without fanfare opened its doors to African-American students. The local newspaper discovered the change in policy late in the fall semester. By then, integration of the college was old news, and a tardy announcement by the press would have been an embarrassment to the paper. Although officials at the newspaper expressed their displeasure with the lack of public acknowledgment, nothing appeared in print. Students on campus seemed to accept the new status of the campus as an integrated institution. According to Jim Bolin: The freshman students at the time looked about and seemed to say that being integrated was no big deal. The sophomores just shrugged it off. It was very smooth. We had one student who left because of the fact that we were integrated, and that student transferred to Ole Miss. And that was the year they had the big problem when James Meredith tried to enroll. But we had no problems integrating.
Note: Major General Bullock became the first Fort Chaffee post commander in September 1961 as the Berlin Crisis resulted in activation of the 100th Infantry. The arrival of the Kentucky regiment boosted the troop strength on the post to 17,000.
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Crowder paid tribute to the Davis brothers, commenting that “both young men were outstanding people, and both today are very successful, one in television management in Michigan and the other coaching in Texas.”
Becoming a Public College At a special meeting called on Feb. 2, 1966, the Board of Trustees passed the following resolution: BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Trustees of the Sebastian County Community Junior College District that Fort Smith Junior College, which was heretofore a private, independent, benevolent educational institution, be renamed WESTARK JUNIOR COLLEGE, a public community junior college located within the city limits of Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Greg Davis, pictured in the 1968 yearbook, was the first African-American athlete to play intercollegiate sports for Westark.
The first African-American athlete to play a varsity sport at Westark was Greg Davis, a 1966 graduate of St. Anne’s Academy (the Catholic high school in Fort Smith until it closed in the 1970s). Bill Crowder, who was in his second year as coach of the basketball and baseball teams, first recruited Davis and then his brother Fred a few years later. Although the entry of an African American onto a Westark squad was uncontroversial, Davis did endure several incidents of discrimination as the team traveled to games around the state and region. Crowder recalled a late-night encounter with a restaurateur following a game with the University of Arkansas Junior Varsity in Little Rock. The diner manager said he could “care for the team with one exception.” They wanted Greg to eat in a different site in the restaurant. Crowder said, “I told the manager what he could do with his food and the team left looking for another eating place.” Crowder also remembered games in which Davis suffered an inordinate share of physical abuse on the court from members of the opposing team. Through it all, Davis persevered and succeeded both on and off the court.
A new name and a new status as a public college mark one of the major turning points in the college’s history, an event that resulted from two elections and the passage of a major legislative milestone. On the night of Nov. 2, 1965, J.A. Carter, chairman of the Sebastian County Election Commission, announced that county voters had passed the referendum creating a Community Junior College District by a five-to-two margin. Shortly after victory was ensured, President Vines told a local newspaper reporter: I feel this will accomplish several things for the college, primarily providing the necessary financing to establish a stable source of income. Now we can plan for the future. The luxury of planning for the future with a stable and predictable source of funding had long been a dream of the college’s president. The introduction of technical programs and the bringing of state dollars to the campus in support of those programs were important steps leading to the vote in November 1965. The effort, however, was not his alone. The Board of Trustees of Fort Smith Junior College and a citizens’ advisory committee worked together to garner support for transforming the private college into a publicly funded institution. The initial effort focused on passage of an amendment to the Arkansas
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Registration. In 1966, students walked from station to station carrying cards to be signed by instructors who were seated behind long tables. Closed sections were announced by placards or by way of bullhorn amplifier. Registration day was long, tiresome, and often frustrating for students and faculty.
Constitution to allow the state to create and fund community junior college districts. Propelled by the national community college movement and promises of economic development within the state, Amendment 52 (Community College Enabling Act) won passage in the general election of 1964. Although Vines is often mentioned as a key proponent of this amendment, little documentation of the campaign exists except for a picture of Vines and Fullerton campaigning for the amendment at the Arkansas-Oklahoma Livestock Exposition and District Free Fair in fall 1964. No mention of the amendment is made in the minutes of the Board of Trustees, and the memories of those involved with the college at the time are only vague recollections of the campaign to pass the amendment. What is remembered, however, is the passage of enabling legislation (Act 560 of 1965) and the monumental effort to pass the local referendum that Vines believed was the key to the future of Westark Junior College. Vines and others from the area, along with officials at the Department of Education in Little Rock, lobbied the legislature during March 1965. The bill, which came to be known as Act 560, was introduced in mid-February by Senator Clarence Bell of Helena. His home district of Phillips County would be the first to pass a local referendum establishing a community college (two weeks prior to the vote in Sebastian County). The Senate passed the bill in early March and sent it on to the House of Representatives. In a speech before the House, Vines argued for the community college concept, focusing on economic development and opportunity:
Gentlemen, I have studied junior colleges for many years, and I know their value. The economic gain to communities much more than offsets any cost in taxes either at the local or the state level. Under the legislation, which passed shortly after Vines addressed the chamber, financial support for the new colleges would be divided into three parts: one-third coming from state tax revenue, one-third from tuition and fees, and one-third from a local millage in the newly created district. The next major step in the process involved forming a citizens committee to make the formal request to the state to establish a community college district. The Board of Trustees, the Advisory Board of the college, and the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce met on May 11, 1965, to appoint just such a committee and formally to endorse the conversion of Fort Smith Junior College from a private to a public institution. Also attending the meeting was E.L. Angell, director of the Commission on the Coordination of Higher Education Finance. Angell presented the assembly with the legislative criteria which had to be met before an election could take place to establish the new district. According to Act 560, the following requirements needed to be in place: an acceptable site with a minimum of 40 acres; a minimum of 300 students wanting to take classes; a district whose size would allow a commuting time of not more than one hour; and approval of a millage that would result in revenue equal to one-third of a proposed budget. Since the college was already established on a 40-acre site and since it enrolled more than 600 full-time students, the primary issues before the citizens committee concerned the exact configuration of the district and
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President Eugene T. Vines (left) and Dean Thomas E. Fullerton (right). The booth at the Arkansas-Oklahoma Free Fair in 1964 successfully appealed to voters of Sebastian County. Passage of the Community College Enabling Act allowed Fort Smith Junior College to become a state-supported institution.
the amount of tax millage needed to ensure the financial growth of the college. The real question that needed an answer, however, centered on how to ensure a successful outcome in an election asking for establishment of the district. In other words, which communities would be certain to vote “yes”? These concerns were discussed in a letter dated June 15, 1965, from Vines to the chairman of the Sebastian County Citizens Committee on Community Junior College Districts, Owen C. Pearce: You asked me to relate to you my thoughts on these matters, and of course I have been doing a great deal of thinking about it in recent months. In determining what is to be included in the district (Fort Smith, Fort Smith and Van Buren, Sebastian County, or Sebastian County and other counties), it is of primary importance that we determine which of these governmental units is most likely to pass the proposed millage. Some feel the district should be confined to the City of Fort Smith, while others seem to feel that it should be composed of the entire county. Very few seem to think the other should be considered at this time. I personally would prefer to see the district composed of the entire county if it is possible for us to win the election. Vines went on to say that two mills for operations and one-half mill for capital outlay would be sufficient to meet the needs of the college. In support of the all-Sebastian County district, he asserted that many of the faculty, including himself, were from south Sebastian County and that he believed that the election could be won in these areas. He closed the letter by stating, “I am very optimistic about the change and firmly believe we can sell it if we are willing to give the time necessary to do the job.”
The “selling” job began almost immediately. Plans and studies were made during summer 1965, including a meeting with Angell from Little Rock, who certified the district as meeting the requirements set by Act 560. Angell also determined that the two mills for operational costs were adequate to support the proposed budget, but increased the portion for capital costs to three-fourths of a mill. The millage remained relatively low because the college was already established and because assets of the private college would be transferred to the new public entity. In contrast, the citizens of Phillips County (Helena, Arkansas) were asked to approve a five mill tax for their proposed district. Additional revenue was needed because they were starting from scratch. Large investments in land and buildings were required in that county, while the people of Sebastian County benefited from the preexisting assets of Fort Smith Junior College. By mid-September, petitions were circulated throughout the county to collect the signatures needed to hold an election. Faculty and staff canvassed the city, carrying petitions door-to-door or setting up tables in public places such as the Arkansas-Oklahoma Free Fair. Jim Bolin covered south Sebastian County with mixed results. In some locations, people signed without hesitation while in others few signatures appeared. Bolin said: I recall Shelby Breedlove, who was coach at the time, and I had gone out in the county passing out petitions to be signed, leaving them with people of some import, asking them, “Could you get some signatures on these?” Well, we went down in the south part of the county, and we passed out these
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petitions. I went around later to pick them up, and the one we left at Witcherville, at a service station, couldn’t be found. I finally found it. It had fallen down behind some pop cases—dirty, dusty, cobwebs on it—and not a single signature. It turned out that was one of the only precincts that we did not carry. In a two-week period enough signatures were collected, and an election was scheduled for Nov. 2, 1965. A campaign was launched to promote the idea of a community college. A speakers bureau comprised of faculty and staff formed on campus to address local civic clubs, church groups, and just about any group that would listen. Fortunately, the campaign received little opposition, and the results on election night saw the issue pass by a substantial margin: 5,091 votes for and 2,031 against. Only 10 out of 51 precincts voted “no.” One week after the election, the Board of Trustees of Fort Smith Junior College met for the last time. In a special session, they were joined by the members of the new Board of Trustees appointed by Governor
Orval E. Faubus. As its last action, the old board approved a proclamation assigning all assets and liabilities of the private college to the newly created Sebastian County Community Junior College District. These citizens were appointed to first terms as members of the new Board of Trustees: Herman Udouj, E.S. Stephens, Carnall Gardner, Chris D. Corbin, Means Wilkinson, Alma Gallagher, Clyde Randall Jr., Tom Null, and Woodson Holbrook. The board elected Carnall “Tiny” Gardner as its first chairman and passed a resolution setting the millage on taxable property at 2.75 mills, an activity that would become an annual event. The first discussion of a new name for the college occurred with the suggestion that “Sebastian County Community Junior College” be adopted. Objections were made because of the word “county” and its association with the poor farm that previously occupied the property. Another board member proposed the name Fort Smith Community Junior College; however, the name Westark Junior College was approved because the name favored a region rather than a single city within the district.
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State of Arkansas Proclamation acknowledging results of the election of November 1965 creating the Sebastian County Community Junior College District, signed by Governor Winthrop Rockefeller.
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“… because he was beloved.” Even though the year 1965 brought great blessings to the college in the form of public support, the year also had its tragedies. Dean Tom Fullerton died of lung cancer in a Little Rock hospital. To most of his colleagues, his death seemed very sudden; many of them did not even know he was sick. Photographs, however, reveal a man aging before his time, a heavy smoker whose life was cut short at the age of 56. His memory remained so strong that in 1970 the college named the new student union in his honor. Other buildings on the Westark campus were named
for former presidents, a chairman of the Board of Trustees, and two generous benefactors, but why name a student union after a dean who had been dead for five years? According to Pete Howard, art instructor and confidant of Dean Fullerton, it was “because he was beloved.” Others responded in similar fashion, recalling memories of Fullerton’s kindness, openness, and willingness to listen to both students and faculty. Howard, who was the faculty adviser for the yearbook in 1965, wrote a stunning tribute to Fullerton that appeared on the concluding pages of the 1965 edition of the Numa. These words, written from the heart, stand as a lasting memorial to Dean Fullerton.
In Memorium (by Pete Howard) A faded red construction gang’s flag hanging in his office (a memento from an office birthday party). Broken filter-tips on the Administration Building steps. A handwritten “Let’s visit” note. Off-key, half made-up words to “Way Down Yonder in the Indian Nation.” A cup of coffee sloshing about on his dashboard. A student talked to me this morning. He said, “Mr. Howard, you know, I consider it a real privilege having known Mr. Fullerton. I only had one class from him. That was last semester, and I believe he was the best instructor I’ve ever had!” He used to say, “We don’t have any bad kids out here.”
Thomas E. Fullerton (1909– 1965), dean of the college from 1958 until his death in 1965.
Mr. Tom would drop by the business office and make Jim Bolin walk around the campus with him. He liked to hear Jim talk about the Depression days, though he could remember them well himself. “Tell me about your farm.” “Tell me about the Corps.” “You’re kidding!” “How are finances this semester?” “You’re kidding.” “Son-of-a-gun!”
He would never seat me by Claud Yancey, Bobby Woods, or Bob Runner during registration. He didn’t mind us arguing but said he couldn’t stand the noise. He wouldn’t ask you for a light for his cigarette, but for a “kitchen match” (remember). Our dean was a slow man. He talked that way. He moved that way. He hated his office, but was there every day. Then you’d see him moving quietly around the campus, conversing with students and teachers. He dearly loved to kid Bill Wilson and to fish with Mr. Amos and Mr. Holder, or just to fish. He told Jim Bolin, “I caught some nice ones Saturday. Would have brought you a mess, but I couldn’t find your house.” These things he left. And many more. Each of us will remember many things about him. All good. Miss Speakman said it, “This is the end of an era.” Mr. Fullerton told me a story one time. I imagine he told it many times, to many people. It was a strange and beautiful story about a time when everyone would be gone from Earth. The grass and the trees would grow over all that man had left here, and once again nature would achieve her old balance. Finally there would be a warm wind that would rustle the leaves and the tall grass and make ripples in the water of calm, clear streams, and fish would jump at insects on the surface. He saw great beauty in the harmony of simplicity.
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Accreditation In early November 1967, a three-member team of examiners from the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (NCA) arrived in Fort Smith, visiting the campus of Westark Junior College as part of the association’s accreditation process. The school had sought candidacy for membership since 1961 and had received a previous site visit by an NCA team in 1964. Although this earlier team of evaluators recommended candidacy for the school, the NCA deferred action because of the imminent changes in the college’s status, i.e., moving from a private to a public institution. Now three years later, the college hoped to receive a positive report from the NCA team and its blessing to move forward as a candidate for accreditation. Unfortunately, a twist of fate altered the direction of events, and monumental changes would have to occur before the college was able to achieve the candidacy it so fervently sought. As the NCA team reached Westark, President E.T. Vines lay dying in a local hospital. He entered the hospital for surgery on a hiatal hernia, but complications soon threatened his life. Norma Jean Breedlove, the wife of Vines’ successor, Shelby Breedlove, remembered how shocked everyone was to learn of the serious nature of the president’s illness: As far as anyone knew, Dr. Vines was healthy as could be. Then he went into the hospital, and they did surgery. Actually, he had, I believe, a hiatal hernia. They went in from bottom or top of his chest and missed it the first time and had to go in again. Well, of course, Shelby was real busy working on his dissertation, and Dr. Vines was still on the phone to the college, carrying on business. They called Shelby to come up to the hospital and stay with Dr. Vines, and Shelby said, “I don’t know why he wants me to come up there; he was just on the phone this afternoon.” Shelby went up to stay with him for the rest of the night. Leo Olsen called Shelby. He had been up there with Dr. Vines. Said he was very ill. Shelby just couldn’t believe it, because he had been on the phone all day with them out at Westark. Shelby went and spent the rest of the night with Dr. Vines, and when he came home the next morning he said, “I don’t think he’s going to make it.” He had turned for the worse that fast. We just couldn’t believe it.
With Vines in the hospital, the NCA team was unable to obtain answers to many of their questions. The college was still making a transition from the private, liberal arts junior college to a publicly funded comprehensive community college. The college’s Board of Trustees had functioned primarily as a fundraising unit, providing much-needed resources for the struggling institution. Under the new public charter, the Board of Trustees needed to assume additional responsibility for approving the operations of the college. Documentation of policies and procedures needed to be established to comply with state regulations and with guidelines for North Central accreditation. The team visiting campus in November 1967 cited these problems in their report and made additional recommendations for upgrading curriculum and qualifications of the faculty and staff. The responsibility for implementing these recommendations fell on the shoulders of the new president, Shelby Breedlove, when Vines died on Nov. 14, 1967, four days after the visit by the accreditation team from North Central. Shelby Breedlove, the former student and coach, officially became the fourth president of Westark Junior College in May 1968. Following Vines’ death, Breedlove was made acting president. He had only been dean of the college for a little over two years, assuming that position after the death of Tom Fullerton. Breedlove originally came to the college as the basketball and baseball coach in the fall of 1960. He built strong teams that were very competitive in the conference. He was also instrumental in developing the coalition between the Fort Smith Boys Club and the college that resulted in the construction of a new gymnasium on the corner of Kinkead Avenue and 50th Street in 1964–65. As dean, he worked on the campaign to pass the referendum establishing the Sebastian County Community Junior College District and was very involved with the effort toward NCA accreditation. Through the encouragement of Vines, Breedlove began working on his doctorate in education from Florida State University, a degree that he would not complete until after he became president of Westark Junior College. Breedlove’s acceptance of the presidency brought a new challenge which, according to his wife, Norma Jean, was his main reason for wanting the job: Shelby was appointed acting president. The only thing I remember was that they just asked him if he wanted the job. Tiny Gardner [chairman of the
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Board of Trustees] just asked, “Do you want the job?” There were a lot of problems and headaches and everything, but Shelby said, “Yes,” he would like the challenge.
Lasting bitterness on the part of the academic faculty remained a significant problem even 10 years after the founding of the technology programs. These problems Shelby Breedlove seemed to underappeared to come to a head in stand that if the college were to grow spring 1968 with the resignaand progress into this new era as a tion of Robert Runner, assispublic institution, North Central tant dean of students. accreditation was vital. In order to Although he was told by acing achieve candidacy for accreditation, President Breedlove that his the college needed to make many position was being eliminatchanges. The faculty needed to redeed, Runner chose the public sign and upgrade curriculum, espeforum of a board meeting to cially in the vocational areas; some Shelby Breedlove was a warm, submit a formal letter of resfaculty needed to increase their well-loved man, but he was more ignation. He expressed his than that. There’s a retaining wall graduate hours or earn advanced dismay with the college’s degrees in their teaching areas; connecting the Vines and Gardner application for federal matchbuildings, and Shelby would go out facilities had to be upgraded and some afternoons and sit on that wall ing funds to build a technical new buildings built; salaries and with his back against the Gardner training center (the Gardner benefits for college employees need- Building and his knees pulled up … Building). As reported by the ed improving; and new administra- just thinking. And you could see him local newspaper, Runner planning the future of the institution tive organization and procedures back when it was still a small, claimed that this action would required implementation. In other struggling school. He was visionary in “detract from the academic that regard. He was so interested and words, Breedlove faced a monuprogram and destroy all posmental task every bit as challenging believed so strongly in the community sibility of the college becomcollege concept that he was as moving the college from a private committed to expanding it around ing accredited by the North to a public institution. This time, the state. Central Association. This however, change needed to come move to a huge, technical from within to meet the NCA mandate; the entire institute would, in all probability, result in phasing infrastructure of the college needed transforming. out of the university parallel areas of the college.” Breedlove accepted the challenge and immediately moved the college toward accreditation. Richard Hudson, former vice president for planning and government relations, remembers Breedlove’s visionary spirit: As Breedlove completed requirements for his doctoral degree, the college progressed enough to receive candidacy for accreditation in spring 1970. Two years after the “atypical” visit when Vines was in the hospital, a new team of North Central evaluators arrived on campus. Recommendations from the visit in November 1967 and additional recommendations from a consultant who visited the campus in February 1969 had been implemented. These efforts included a major public relations campaign directed at educating the community, as well as the college personnel, about the purpose and function of a comprehensive community college.
At the time, the Board of Trustees was considering a separate campus for the technical division with the possibility of locating a new facility on surplus acreage from Fort Chaffee, which later became Ben Geren Regional Park. Through agreements with Sebastian County authorities, the college acquired the entire 40-acre campus for expansion and decided that it was in the best interest of the school to remain on its current site. In 1970 the college received a $200,000 matching grant from the federal government for the technical education center. The hopedfor local matching funds were to come from an increase in the county millage. Unfortunately, the increase was rejected by the voters in fall of 1969. Chairman of the Board of Trustees Carnall “Tiny” Gardner led the effort to raise the needed funds so that the school did not lose the federal grant. The new building was dedicated in 1972 and was named the Gardner Building in his honor. A major problem cited by the 1967 evaluation team concerned the college’s lack of established and docu-
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mented administrative procedures. As a private institution, the college was not required to follow state guidelines for the purchasing of goods and services and the hiring of staff and faculty. If new equipment needed purchasing, a few phone calls were made and the equipment was delivered to the campus. If a course needed teaching, an instructor was found and the new position was created. However, the autonomy the college enjoyed as a private institution began to erode soon after the college became a public institution. Jim Bolin recalls walking into the basement of Old Main and finding stacks of cartons containing new IBM typewriters. New machines had been ordered without soliciting bids and following the state-mandated purchasing procedures. Bolin knew they were in trouble, and soon thereafter, a call came from Little Rock requesting that they appear before the director of the state agency charged with oversight of purchasing. Bolin recalled:
providing faculty with the opportunity to take sabbatical leave to advance their education. In summer 1969, nine instructors were granted leave with pay to work on advanced degrees or take courses in their subject areas. Among these instructors were Barbara Bartlett, Dorothy Rappeport, George McAlister, and Sharon Winn. The new policy required that all faculty hold a master’s degree with a minimum of 18 graduate hours in their teaching field.
Dr. Vines and I went down to Little Rock. Orval Faubus was governor at the time, and he employed a new head of the Department of Finance and Administration. He was a retired military man. We went into his office and were seated, and he was standing with his back to us looking out a window, kind of standing at parade rest. I could envision him holding a riding crop, although he was not. He slowly turned around and chewed us up and spit us out.
Old Main was not structurally sound. Breedlove told me that they were planning to level that building. “Well,” I said, “We can’t do that, it’s such a beautiful building.” Breedlove said, “Well, come here and let me show you.” We walked outside and looked up toward the third story, and we could actually see daylight between sections of the building. On real windy, gusty days, they had to dismiss classes off the third floor because it just was not structurally sound or safe.
By 1969 the college had adopted an Administrative Procedures Manual, a Board Policy Manual, and a Faculty Handbook that better defined the lines of authority at the college. The Board of Trustees assumed the responsibilities outlined in the new policy manual, and the new president, Shelby Breedlove, made certain all issues requiring board approval or input were dealt with according to the established procedure. A tenure policy and expanded benefits package were implemented. The college faculty had been part of the Arkansas State Teachers Retirement System for several years, but beginning with the fall semester of 1969, faculty were offered the option of contributing to the state system or to TIAA-CREF. A new salary schedule was implemented with a pay range for nine-month, full-time instructors of $6,500 to $9,750.
Although it was much loved and continues to be missed, the school had no choice but to tear down Old Main and the smaller administration building in front of it. These buildings were the connection to the past, but the college was moving in a new direction. The building that replaced Old Main was intended to house the administrative offices and the Business Department, including occupational programs in secretarial science. President Vines died while the building was under construction. It was dedicated in his memory in spring 1968. The cost of the building was about $450,000, an amount exceeded by the cost of a new heating and air conditioning system installed in 1997. A building for the sciences was completed at approximately the same time. That facility became the first structure on campus to receive funding for construction from a federal grants program. It served the science departments until the completion of the Math-Science/University Center that opened in 1992.
Faculty credentials were an area of major concern for the earlier evaluation team. Many faculty lacked the appropriate degree or sufficient graduate hours in their teaching discipline. Westark made the decision to invest in the future of the institution by
As the enrollment of the college expanded, adequate facilities to meet the needs of growing numbers of students and the growing numbers of courses became more of a problem. Holt Library was completed in 1960, and the small gymnasium which the college shared with the Boys Club was rebuilt in 1964–65. When new assistant librarian Max Burns came to campus in 1967, Breedlove gave him a tour of Old Main and pointed out the structural problems. Burns recalled:
Two facilities were in the planning stages at the time of the 1969 NCA visit: a student union building
PAR T I I : I N T O T H E MODER N ER A , 1958- 1974
located just south of the new Vines Building and a technology building located on the site of the old county poor farm. These new structures were funded through government programs. The rapid pace of the building program in the late 1960s and early 1970s provided great relief for the lack of facilities on campus and certainly was a major factor in the accreditation process. The 1967 evaluation team had criticized the separation on campus between the technical-occupational programs and the traditional academic transfer programs. The college abandoned its plans to build a separate campus for the technical areas and attempted to reduce the tension on campus by moving several academic departments into the Technical Complex on the corner of Kinkead and Waldron. The first to move was the English Department, which remained in that location until the renovation of the Holt Building in the mid-1980s. Instructors in social and behavioral sciences relocated to the Technical Complex in the early 1970s, and the Art Department taught classes in that part of campus for several years before moving into the renovated Ballman-Speer Building in 1975. Although placing academic departments in close proximity to the technical-occupational programs did not ensure an integration of the two domains, the outward appearance conveyed to the public and to the NCA evaluators that the college was making an honest attempt to bridge the gap between transfer and occupational education. The report filed by the 1969 evaluation team noted these many improvements, but also cited numerous deficiencies. Although the team commended the school for its efforts to upgrade faculty credentials, the members criticized the criterion of 18 hours in
A new gymnasium was built in 1965 as a joint venture with the Fort Smith Boys Club. The building was shared until the mid-1970s when the Boys Club moved to a new facility at the corner of North O and 50th streets.
the subject field as inadequate for teaching in the discipline: “… a minimum of 18 hours of graduate courses in the subject matter field is commendable [but] this is not the equivalent of satisfying the requirements of a master’s degree in that field.” The team was concerned especially with the qualifications of the instructors teaching in the technical-occupational programs, suggesting a specific plan of study for improving instruction. The salary schedule was deemed too low to attract qualified instructors, and improvements in faculty governance were needed as well. Even with these and other problems cited in their report, the team of evaluators recommended that Westark Junior College receive status as a candidate for accreditation with the North Central Association. For most of the decade of the 1960s, Westark had been actively seeking this status, and in spring 1970 the NCA board voted to accept the evaluators’ recommendation and grant the college candidacy for accreditation. The final goal of full accreditation was still on the horizon, but a major bridge on that journey had been crossed. The first step toward the next plateau was to form a self-study committee. A steering committee headed by Sidney H. Blakely of the English Department was formed, comprised of personnel from all areas of campus. The group’s overall task was to write a selfstudy report based on criteria set forth by the NCA. Members attended workshops sponsored by the NCA in Chicago and Kansas City and began to gather the necessary data for constructing an elaborate and in-depth document. Never before had the college looked at itself with such close scrutiny,
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Although Old Main was a valued part of the college’s history, the structure was in extremely poor condition, and efforts to restore it were deemed too costly. The much beloved Old Main was demolished in 1967 to make way for a new administration building which would be named for President E.T. Vines.
revealing both its strengths and weaknesses. The exhaustive process with its diverse input from all areas of the campus set the standard for future NCA self-studies. The document was completed in spring 1972, and the third team of NCA evaluators arrived on campus that fall. Their report recommended full accreditation for a three-year period, which was granted by the NCA board in spring 1973. Breedlove had accomplished the elusive goal of accreditation and finished his doctorate at the same time. His dissertation outlined a plan for a state community college system and proved influential in gaining support among the state’s leaders. At the governor’s mansion, newly elected Governor Dale Bumpers kept a copy of Breedlove’s dissertation by his bed and each night would read a portion. With his support, legislation creating a community college system passed in the 1973 session of the General Assembly. Garland County Community College and North Arkansas Community College came into existence at that time. Westark had already changed its name to Westark Community College in 1972. The most important factor in the legislation, however, was the increase in state funding for community colleges. In the earlier 1965 legislation, only a third of a college’s budget could come directly from
the state. The new legislation allowed for 70 percent state funding. Along with the new status as a community college, the college’s administration was reorganized in the spring of 1973. Two new deans were appointed, and six instructional divisions were created. Sidney Blakely filled the new position of dean of liberal arts, and Harold Hile became dean of applied science. The six instructional divisions and their respective chairs were Humanities, Walter Minniear; Natural Science, Michael Hightower; Social Science, George McAlister; Technology, Richard Hudson; Health Occupations, Carolyn Moore; and Business, Paul Leggett. Continued growth, new buildings, new programs, full accreditation—the future looked bright for Westark Community College and its young president. Following the celebrations surrounding the successes in spring 1973, Breedlove began to experience abdominal pain that was initially diagnosed as gallbladder attacks. In November of that year, he underwent successful surgery to remove his gallbladder but continued to have pain. He returned to the doctors, telling them they had not found his problem. According to Norma Jean Breedlove, the
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Breedlove battled his cancer through summer 1974, spending less and less time on campus. Ed Levy, political science instructor, recalled their last meeting in Breedlove’s office just prior to the beginning of the fall semester:
Sidney Horner Blakely, an FSJC graduate and Numa editor, earned his Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina. Returning to Fort Smith Junior College as an instructor in English, the widely respected Blakely turned out well-prepared students. His scholarly expertise played a large role as the college gained its initial North Central Association accreditation. He is shown about to ceremoniously christen the newly accredited college.
doctors told him he was “working too hard.” Exploratory surgery was performed in March 1974, and a malignancy was discovered. The cancer had spread, and despite his wife’s efforts to get him to go to the Mayo Clinic, Breedlove set his own destiny. He continued to work as president and even assisted with the formation of other community colleges around the state. He conducted business on campus, even when he was confined to the hospital. During this time, a new fine arts building was in the final planning stages. When the bids came back, the building was seriously over budget. Walter Minniear, who came to the college in 1969 as music instructor and was conductor of the Fort Smith Symphony, recalls speaking with Breedlove about the apparent lack of funds for the new building. Breedlove told him not to worry because he had a private donor who was going to make up the difference. After Breedlove’s death, no one ever came forward as promised. According to his widow, Breedlove had gone to T.L. Hunt about the shortfall in funds: Mr. Hunt told him, “Don’t worry about it.” Shelby couldn’t understand why he wasn’t worried about it at all. So finally he told Shelby, ‘“Just let people contribute what they can, and I’ll make up the difference.”
When I came to Westark from St. Louis, I experienced the culture shock of the urban, intellectual Jew moving to the buckle of the Bible Belt. I first met Breedlove while walking around campus, and he made a special effort to welcome me to the college and told me that as long as he was in charge, he would make sure I was taken care of. Well, I came to his office just before he died. He looked awful and barely had the energy to carry on a conversation. We chatted awhile, and he looked at me and asked if I remembered our first meeting. I said “Yes,” and he said, “I guess I won’t be able to keep that promise after all.” Shelby Breedlove died on Sept. 14, 1974. He was 44 years old.
Nursing Comes to Westark Accreditation of the college by NCA was a landmark event, but two years earlier the college’s new Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program received specialized accreditation from the National League for Nursing (NLN). Carolyn Moore, the ADN program’s first director, was notified by telephone in early December 1971 that the college’s program had been fully accredited by NLN. The news came, even though the program had just graduated its first class of nurses the previous spring. Nursing was the first program on the Westark campus to earn specialized accreditation from a national organization. Nursing education in Fort Smith had always been conducted by the two major hospitals, St. Edward Mercy Medical Center and Sparks Regional Medical Center. Since the early 1960s, students in these programs took their basic science courses from Westark instructors. Discussion between the hospitals’ administrators—Marvin Altman from Sparks and Sister Mary Maurielius Petrus from St. Edward— and Westark opened the possibility of the college’s assuming full responsibility for the education of
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registered nurses in the Fort Smith area.
Students in the St. Edward and Sparks hospitals nursing programs enrolled in science classes at Westark beginning in the early 1960s. Even before the program became a part of the Westark curriculum, the nursing students were always included in the yearbooks as part of the student body.
Community colleges around the country were developing two-year nursing programs as the result of the efforts of Mildred Montag of Columbia University. Her doctoral research focused on the concept of preparing registered nurses in the college setting. In a two-year period, the associate degree nursing programs provided students with a strong educational foundation and prepared students to take the licensure exam to become registered nurses. The cost of the diploma programs at the local hospitals was supported by patient fees. By moving the programs to a public institution, the operating costs would be shared by all taxpayers in the state. In addition, the new ADN program emphasized education, and the students were no longer responsible for providing nursing services to the hospitals.
Carolyn Moore had moved to Fort Smith in 1964 and became the director of the Sparks School of Nursing. Marvin Altman asked her to accept a position at Westark to develop the Associate Degree Nursing program for the college. The new program would be only the second such program in the state of Arkansas. As Moore was one of only a few nurses in the state with a master’s degree in nursing, her qualifications and her willingness to accept the challenge of creating a new program made her a perfect choice to head the nursing program. Shelby Breedlove allowed Moore to spend her first year, which began in 1968, planning the program, developing the curriculum, securing students and faculty, and attaining the necessary legal and professional approval. The first class of 54 students was admitted
in fall 1969. Calline (Dipboye) Ellis and Susan Chaney joined the faculty just prior to the fall semester as the program moved into the Science Building, where the courses were taught during the first three years. The first class of students was composed of recent high school graduates as well as several non-traditional students. Included also were several LPNs and two male students. Acceptance of the nursing program was somewhat slow to develop, both within Fort Smith’s health care community and with the students themselves. Ellis recalled an incident during the first semester: We’d been taking the students to clinical, but we were having our classes in the Science Lecture
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Freshman nursing student Shirley Smith employs a super-8 movie projector in conjunction with a tape recorder. The nursing program was the first to use multimedia, self-paced instruction and competency-based education.
Hall, and one of the students in the back raised her hand and asked, “We want to know. Are y’all nurses?” And we assured them that we were nurses. They had been with us almost a whole semester, and they just wanted to make sure we were qualified to be teaching them. To win acceptance from the medical community, Moore brought area health care providers to the campus, explaining the program to them and letting them see the program’s single laboratory: The struggle we felt as Westark faculty was that the hospital people, including the doctors, had made up their minds that this program is not going to be good. They wondered how could you produce a nurse in a college in two years? “You just can’t do it,” they thought. We knew the graduates would prove the point. It didn’t take long before our graduates proved themselves. The new RNs not only proved themselves on the job but soon began to achieve exceptionally high pass rates on the national licensure exam for registered nurses. Pass rates well above the national average have been the norm throughout the history of the ADN program. Shortly after initiating the ADN program, the college assumed responsibility for a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program that had been taught in the public schools. Because of changes in state laws, the public school system could no longer offer the program, and it was moved to the college. Although some new faculty were added, the LPN and ADN programs shared the same cramped facilities. The move to the Gardner Building in 1972 opened new space for the programs, but faculty offices were all
Dr. Shelby Breedlove at the Fort Smith airport on March 29, 1973, returns from a successful Chicago meeting in which Westark received accreditation from the North Central Association. Ruth Burns, a college secretary, is seen in the background.
located in one large room. Each instructor had a desk, and everyone shared the same telephone. With the addition of new programs in Surgical Technology and Emergency Medical Technology (EMT), the Health Occupations Division was continuing to grow, reflecting the overall growth in the health care community during the 1970s and 1980s. The EMT program, which was started by Lyman Long and Sam Landrum, M.D., began before a recognized need for trained personnel existed in the community. Local funeral homes ran the city’s ambulance service, delivering injured or critically ill patients to the hospital without benefit of trained health care personnel. The college had to create a job market for these trained professionals and worked diligently with local authorities to upgrade the emergency response systems. The Surgical Technology program also had to prove itself in order to create a market for its graduates. It originally received its funding through state legislation initiated by Governor Dale Bumpers.
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The area hospitals, however, were not convinced that the need existed for trained and thus more highly paid workers. Moore remembered: We didn’t know if anybody would hire these people because both hospitals were doing their own training and paying no more than minimum wage. They were not interested in having to pay a little bit extra to have a better-trained person, so what we did was produce them. The hospitals began to see that these people were good and certainly were worth the extra compensation. They had to be convinced that hiring our graduates was worth their investment, and that’s how we created the job market.
The new student union was dedicated in memory of Dean Thomas E. Fullerton in 1970.
Jim Bolin (left), business manager for the college, points out the aesthetic and functional attributes of the new Gardner Building for technical education.
PAR T I I : I N T O T H E MODER N ER A , 1958- 1974
1970 Enrollment reaches 1,542. The new student union is named in honor of Dean Tom Fullerton. 1971 Westark’s ADN program gains national accreditation. Ben Whitfield is named interim president while Shelby Breedlove completes his doctorate. 1972 The college name is changed to Westark Community College. The Gardner Building is completed, and a new parking lot is added to the south end of the campus. The millage election conversion passes, enabling the entire millage to be used for capital improvements. 1973 Westark receives North Central Association accreditation. The college experiments with a fourday week. 1974 Shelby Breedlove dies of cancer, and Ben Whitfield becomes acting president. Sidewalks are laid from the Gardner Building to the Technical Complex and from the parking lot to the gym. Lighting is installed in the parking lot, and an automotive classroom is added to the Technical Complex. 1975 James Kraby is named fifth president of the college. More than 50,000 Indochinese refugees are processed in the Fort Chaffee Refugee Education Program. The new Westark Community College seal and logo are adopted. An addition to the gymnasium is completed. Full-time student enrollment reaches 3,000. 1976 The grade of “NC” replaces “F.” The Breedlove Building is completed. America celebrates its Bicentennial, and the Westark choir performs in Washington, D.C., on Arkansas Day. 1978 Westark acquires the gym from the Fort Smith Boys Club. The Miss Westark Pageant joins the Miss America system. Westark receives a seven-year reaccreditation from the North Central Association. Disabled/handicapped access programs are initiated. Westark celebrates its 50th anniversary. 1979 The first underground computer cable system is installed. Computer terminals begin to replace keypunch cards and readers.
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THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE ERA, 1974–1998
Ben Whitfield: The College in Transition The wind blew the hair on Westark secretary Ruth Burns’ head as she watched Shelby Breedlove, Ben Whitfield, and Sidney Blakely disembark from the plane at the Fort Smith airport on a hot and breezy Wednesday afternoon, March 29, 1973. T.A. Feild III, now chairman of the Board of Trustees, faculty members and staff from the college, curiosity seekers, and news people cheered in the crowd, waving flags and holding up posters celebrating the news that Westark Community College had received full accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Everyone headed back to the Vines Building on campus for a festive gathering. Few would have thought at the time that Shelby Breedlove would die of pancreatic cancer only a year and a half later. The Westark board asked Ben Whitfield, then academic dean, to continue executive operations of the college while a new president was sought.
Dr. Ben Whitfield, interim president. After the unexpected death of Shelby Breedlove, he carried forward college initiatives such as the installation of sidewalks from Gardner to the Technical Complex and from the parking lot to the gym, the concealment of open ditches alongside Waldron Road, the installation of parking lot lighting, and the addition of a new automotive technical building. Along with Harold Cameron, he initiated the HEW contract that led to the Fort Chaffee Refugee Education Program.
When the Gardner Building was built, it was placed on the highest, most prominent corner of the campus to try to build respect for technical areas. We moved the English Department down into the technical area in order to have faculty and students from the two areas rub elbows a little bit more.
Ben Whitfield came to the college as a result of a chance meeting with Shelby Breedlove at Florida State University. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation had supported a program there in which college deans such as Breedlove were trained in the art of interviewing candidates for comprehensive community college settings. Graduate student Whitfield conducted his role-playing sessions with such enthusiasm and vigor that Breedlove later called him to work at Westark Junior College while he went back to Florida to obtain his own doctorate.
Whitfield proposed a number of projects that affected the future of Westark, including the installation of sidewalks from the Gardner Building to the Technical Complex and from the parking lot to the gym, the concealment of open ditches alongside Waldron Road, and the installation of parking lot lighting. He proposed the addition of a new automotive technical building and, along with Harold Cameron, initiated the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare contract that led to the huge Fort Chaffee Refugee Education Program.
When Whitfield arrived in 1968, he began work on a master plan that involved the physical plant, academic programs, and student services. He helped define Westark’s goals in the accreditation process and brought the college into line with the prevailing concepts about comprehensive community colleges, concepts that involved treating vocational-technical and academic areas equitably so as to create a mutual respect between the two. As he said:
Richard Hudson, later a vice president at Westark, noted: Ben Whitfield was one of the best analytical thinkers I’ve ever known, and if he thinks about things for a few minutes, he will make a good, logical decision. Although Whitfield did apply for the position of president after Breedlove’s death, and the internal
PAR T I I I : T H E COMMU N I T Y COL L EGE ER A , 1974- 1998
search committee actually recommended him, he was not selected. The Board of Trustees split on whether to hire someone from inside or outside Arkansas. Eventually, proponents of a non-Arkansas candidate prevailed, and James Kraby’s selection interrupted an established tradition of hiring local, regional leaders at Westark. Later, Whitfield went on to serve as first president of South Arkansas Community College in El Dorado. He retired as president of that institution after serving with distinction for 22 years.
James Kraby: National Recognition Comes to the College James Kraby was 37 years old when he began his tenure in 1975 as fifth president of Westark College. He had been educated at Bemidji State University (Minnesota), Western Michigan University, and the University of Minnesota. A man of the times, Kraby wore polyester suits with bellbottomed pants and sported a modified shag haircut. He taught at North Hennepin Community College (Minnesota) for five years before returning to complete his doctorate in education at the University of Minnesota, then accepted a post as dean of instruction at Itasca Community College (Grand Rapids, Minn.), where he served for three years before coming to Westark. Board of Trustees members Gene Rapley and Edward “Sandy” Sanders went to Minnesota about two weeks before Kraby was offered the job and traveled about the town, visiting the campus and interviewing townspeople. There was a serious risk in hiring an outsider like Kraby, because if he had been a failure, it would have reflected badly on those who had selected him. William Klusmeier was board chairman at the time; others on the board included Conaly Bedell, Nancy Llewellyn, Sam Sicard, Woodson Holbrook, Wayne Lanier, and Herman Udouj. They felt that Westark was just beginning to emerge as a true community college and wanted Kraby to continue the strategies Shelby Breedlove had developed for its future growth. When James Kraby arrived at Westark, he implemented five components of a comprehensive com-
Dr. James Kraby, fifth president of the college. Through his connections with the North Central Association and memberships in other national organizations, he brought national recognition to the college. The college published the first administrative long-range plan titled “Two Years From Tomorrow” in 1975, followed with successive biennial reports. Kraby was responsible for important faculty initiatives such as providing insurance for faculty, liberalizing vacation benefits, and implementing the shared governance agreement with the Faculty Association that had been initiated under Shelby Breedlove’s administration. Kraby saw the completion of the Breedlove Auditorium and the purchase of the gym from the Fort Smith Boys Club. He changed the administrative title of “dean” to “vice president” in 1981.
munity college model that had been proposed in 1970 by a Carnegie Commission Report titled “The Open Door Colleges.” Kraby had heard the issues discussed numerous times at the University of Minnesota during the early 1970s by popular theorists such as Joe Cosand and William Priest. Fourteen areas were addressed in the Carnegie Report, but Kraby focused upon just five in order to bring Westark into alignment with similar institutions across the nation. He felt Westark needed: a transfer curriculum; a vocational-technical curriculum; general education, non-degree programs; community education programs; and a full student activities program. Kraby’s influence was soon felt in the vocational-technical areas, with additions to and modifications of existing buildings; in the sports areas, with the purchase of the Boys Club gym and the establishment of a women’s basketball team; and in the development of student activities such as the Miss Westark Pageant in 1978 and Season of Entertainment in 1980 under the direction of Stacey Jones. A number of practical aspects of campus life changed with the appearance of James Kraby: the college mail service was instituted, registration changed to a “station” system (students collected cards for each class from the deans), food service replaced the vending machines in the cafeteria, and the college adopted a new seal and logo. Landmarks went up around the college including the marquee on Grand
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Assistant to the president Richard Hudson rides a wheelchair to illustrate what a disabled person had to overcome on the Westark campus in the 1970s. Improvements came in the form of elevators in the Vines and Breedlove buildings and a second-floor ramp between the Vines and Gardner buildings.
Avenue and the Dixon Bridges sculpture “Three in One” in front of the Gardner Building. A child development center opened, a skills lab was established, and new programs in building trades and business were initiated. Kraby was responsible for important faculty initiatives such as liberalizing vacation benefits and implementing the shared governance agreement with the Faculty Association initiated under Shelby Breedlove’s administration. In 1975 Westark published the first administrative long-range plan for the college titled Two Years From Tomorrow, followed with successive biennial reports. In what represented perhaps the final break from the private college to the community college era, Kraby changed the administrative title of “dean” to “vice president” in 1981. Through his membership in the American Association of Junior Colleges, President Kraby was able to talk about Westark with other administrators across the country. Faculty and staff also were encouraged to make presentations at national conferences. Gordon Watts, staff development officer (now vice president at Northark College in Harrison), wrote a number of articles on staff development for the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) and became well known throughout the country. Presentations were made at the National Organization of Community Service and Continuing Education (NOCSCE) and elsewhere.
Kraby placed a value on being involved nationally, on learning about things in the outside world, and on bringing those things back to improve the college. He had done consulting work for the North Central Association, and as a direct result of his recommendation, Joy Beard (Humanities Division chair, 1980–98) was appointed to the North Central Association as an evaluator in 1981. She advised Westark committees on North Central policies and procedures in two self-studies and served as an evaluator and commissioner for the North Central Association for 18 years. Kraby authorized the installation of the curbs and gutters around three sides of the campus and improved disabled access to buildings through the installation of elevators in the Vines and Breedlove buildings. Along with his assistant, Richard Hudson, he illustrated the need for these improvements by riding around the campus in a wheelchair to show just what a disabled person had to overcome. Photographs of these demonstrations appeared in various issues of The Collegian, forerunner to The Lion’s Pride, in 1977 and 1978. A second-floor ramp was installed between the Vines and Gardner buildings as a result of the suggested improvements. For many years, Westark was the only community college in the state of Arkansas to have satisfactorily completed its conversion of facilities for disabled access according to HEW guidelines. Perhaps one of Kraby’s most important accomplishments was the acquisition of the Boys Club building. The building was co-owned with the Fort Smith Boys Club, and the college had to give it up each day from 4 to 7 p.m. for Boys Club use. The fact that the
PAR T I I I : T H E COMMU N I T Y COL L EGE ER A , 1974- 1998
building was physically connected to the gym, and that all classes had to leave prematurely each day, seemed awkward to Kraby. He was discouraged from acquiring the building, however, because it had been built with donated funds during the 1950s when Westark was a private college. Undaunted, Kraby talked to donors and benefactors for nine months until he came up with an agreeable settlement: the Boys Club received $425,000 (which enabled it to build a new building seven blocks away), and Westark gained full control of the facility. According to Kraby, his greatest frustration as president was the inability of the college to obtain adequate funding for campus improvements. During the last two years of his administration, Frank White (a native of Fort Smith) was elected governor of Arkansas, and state funding for education was cut back seriously. As Kraby himself said, “We just survived the eight years that I was there with low dollars … the lowest dollars available of any community college in the state.” Kraby recalled one incident while attending the state legislative Joint Budget Committee when Westark’s enrollment and funding were being compared with other community colleges in Arkansas. Using the proposed funding formula, Westark should have received a 34 percent increase; however, a senator from Pine Bluff later remarked, “There’s no way in hell you’re going to get 34 percent, no way in hell.” The college did get an 8 percent increase that year, but the increase barely kept pace with inflation. Although the Westark Foundation existed, little was done to raise money for the college. Having achieved state funding in 1973, officials thought the college should not seek to replenish its depleted funds through local community contributions as it had done so often in the past. Despite being hamstrung by financial limitations, Kraby’s administration gave Westark the vision that it could be something more than just a neighborhood school, filling an educational niche for students needing a gentle transition to university course work. He made key appointments to faculty and administration that have critically influenced the growth of the college up to today, including the appointment of his eventual successor, Joel Stubblefield. One of President Kraby’s fondest recollections was the success of the Fort Chaffee Refugee Education Program in 1975, which figured significantly in the self-study of 1977 that led to a seven-
year reaccreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
The Fort Chaffee Refugee Education Program During the early months of 1975, it became clear that South Vietnam had lost the war. The U.S. government implemented plans to rescue thousands of South Vietnamese fleeing that country. On April 22 civil and military authorities on the island of Guam were asked to prepare a safe haven for a huge stream of refugees. Other safe havens were opened on Wake Island and at Subic Bay, Philippines. In the United States, Fort Chaffee served as an Indochinese relocation center from May 2 until Dec. 20, 1975. Other relocation centers were opened at Eglin Air Force Base (Florida), Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton (California), and Fort Indiantown Gap National Guard Training Center (Pennsylvania). During the six months Fort Chaffee served as a relocation center, more than 50,000 Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian refugees were brought in, processed, and sponsored out into homes across the country. Many unfamiliar sights, sounds, smells, and activities gave the Fort Chaffee relocation center the feeling of a foreign country. Out on “Main Street,” as it was called, music crackled through loudspeakers, interrupted often with various announcements including efforts to reunite refugees with friends and relatives. Near mealtimes, the smell of nuoc mam (fish sauce) filled the air near many of the barracks. At first, U.S. Army personnel had the job of cooking for the refugees. Although the food was of good quality, it was inadequate both in quantity and taste. Several times a week, meals consisted of three scoops of rice mixed with tuna fish. After a few weeks, a food preparation contract was awarded to a private contractor that was able to satisfy the needs of most of the refugees. Nonetheless, many of them made small cookstoves out of tin cans and cooked on the windowsills of their barracks, using food brought in from town or taken from the mess halls. Driving down Main Street at Fort Chaffee, a visitor would see black soot streaking down the sides of buildings from these little stoves.
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Harold Cameron, dean of students, headed the Refugee Education Program in 1975 established at Fort Chaffee with Westark assistance to help meet the rising tide of immigrants from Southeast Asia. Cameron is shown here meeting with new arrivals in a barracks building.
The barracks were partitioned into cubicles using sheets of plywood, with one or more families assigned to each partitioned area. Having little privacy or security, one member of each family usually stayed in the assigned area to guard family possessions from possible theft. Shortly after the relocation center opened, two men who were associated with the Southern Baptist Convention and who had spent time in Vietnam organized programs for teaching basic English, cultural orientation, and child care. The English program was quite limited. Classes were conducted 9–11 a.m. and 2–4 p.m. and were staffed using volunteers from the surrounding communities. The men, Trueman Moore, a local Baptist minister, and Gene Tunnell, a Baptist social worker, initially were able to recruit an adequate number of volunteers anxious to work with the refugees. As the season neared early summer, the heat, the language barrier, and inadequate facilities made the job less attractive. It became difficult to find enough volunteers to continue the program. In addition to the Southern Baptist program of education, the local YMCA assumed the responsibility of organizing and implementing a program for leisure time. Since Fort Chaffee was only seven miles from the Westark campus, the relocation center was considered a suitable venue in which to offer the college’s services. Telephone lines to Fort Chaffee were jammed for days, but finally Ben Whitfield and Harold Cameron, dean of students, managed to
reach George Blasingame of HEW and offered to develop and implement an education program for the refugees. The Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) in Arlington, Va., had already been selected to replace the volunteer program. However, Blasingame called back a few days later and told college officials that the CAL program was too expensive. He asked Westark to submit a proposal. Without realizing the enormity of the task, college officials submitted a proposal which was readily accepted. Westark agreed to absorb both the Southern Baptist and YMCA programs. Advertisements were posted to locate paid employees. Most of the applicants were simply interested in the project or wanted summer employment. They were put on shifts to better organize the classes. While there were start-up problems, the program began to operate more smoothly after a few weeks. The first curriculum involved teaching the refugees language skills by having them listen to and repeat phrases from English magazines and newspapers. Teaching continued for a couple of months until Cameron, head of the project, realized that the situation needed improvement. With experience of the situation, he went back to HEW to renegotiate the contract. Westark was willing to continue with the English instruction and day care, but also wanted to hire and pay refugees as teachers’ aides. Even though they were badly needed as teachers’ aides, refugees were not issued work permits until they found sponsors in the United States. This delay slowed down the instructional program.
PAR T I I I : T H E COMMU N I T Y COL L EGE ER A , 1974- 1998
Westark added a program called Cross Culturalization to the curriculum, which taught people how to shop, apply for jobs, and perform other practical skills of daily life in the United States. Cameron negotiated a contract with PBS to show “The Electric Company,” “Sesame Street,” and 25 other programs at various times during the day on a two-channel closed-circuit TV network. Adults enjoyed these programs just as much as the children for whom they were intended. Driver-training courses were presented well into the evening in four large house trailers, each with 12 to 16 stations. The college had initially wanted to keep records on the whole Fort Chaffee operation by using the standard monthly payroll system, but Vietnamese aides working on the project wanted to be paid weekly. The process was further complicated by the fact that many Vietnamese names were similar in spelling and their U.S. Social Security numbers had been assigned in blocks of similar numbers. In Westark Data Processing, Ray Sparks had to change the payroll programs to pay weekly instead of monthly and to assign temporary Social Security numbers to the refugees in order to unscramble all the pay periods and people. Sparks and his helpers spent many Friday afternoons running a dozen payrolls simply to pay the people working at Fort Chaffee. Teaching so many people in so short a space of time was an enormous undertaking, and Westark received national publicity for it. An extensive article and accompanying photograph were sent out on the Associated Press Wire Service in October 1975, and a New York Times article from the same year described the complexities of the program. Of four relocation centers operating in the United States, the education program at Fort Chaffee was the only one run by a community college and the only one run by an agency outside the U.S. Department of Education. It was an example of a small college’s ability to handle a big job effectively and on short notice. Westark also benefited because much of the equipment purchased, such as TVs and VCRs, later came to the college’s Audiovisual Department, and the English as a Second Language (ESL) program in Developmental Education materialized as a direct result of the Chaffee project. Perhaps the most important result of the program was the vast number of goodwill ambassadors sent out into the country-at-large from Westark as expressed in the conclusion of the “Report of the Second Contract,” dated Sept. 22–Dec. 22, 1975:
The contractual objectives and obligations of the second contract have been met, but there is no way to sum up all involved in this six-month project in humanity. Such a complex undertaking could not have been accomplished without the help of many people and organizations. Ours was an unforgettable people-to-people exchange. From the over 100-degree heat in summer classrooms to the first snowfall just before Thanksgiving, the Americans and Indochinese suffered and learned together. The teachers have a kaleidoscope of memories from those first hectic days. We were to teach English to the largest group of displaced peoples any of us had ever seen and assuage the terrible tragedy that had befallen a beautiful and gentle people. The human contact between Indochinese and Americans has allowed thousands not only to acquire basic English skills but to establish relationships which restored confidence in the ability of human beings to transcend cultural barriers and appreciate in each other those qualities which make for universal brotherhood. Aside from its general economic benefit to the Fort Smith economy, the Fort Chaffee project truck a characteristic theme for Westark history over the next 25 years: responsiveness to community needs.
The Breedlove Building and Its Artistic Impact Opened during the U.S. bicentennial year of 1976, the $1.1 million Breedlove Building was funded with money from the reallocation millage vote of 1972. Shelby Breedlove had originally wanted a much larger building, even larger than the Fort Smith Civic Center in downtown Fort Smith, but construction bids came in so high for the first design that the college had to trim down the size of the Auditorium from 1,100 to just over 400 seats. Breedlove Auditorium had a forward-thrust stage (removed in the 1995 renovation) with semi-
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Opened during the U.S. bicentennial year of 1976, the Auditorium in the $1.1 million Breedlove Building had to be trimmed down from its proposed 1,100 seats to just over 400. Well-known musicians and noted speakers such as Helen Walton and Hillary Rodham Clinton have appeared there.
surround seating patterned after theater-in-theround designs popular in the 1970s. Acoustics were designed principally for speech- and theater-related events, which made it difficult for instrumental soloists to sound good without amplification; however, the building was a refreshing change from the sadly outdated Ballman-Speer facility where audience members sat on folding chairs. In fact, rehearsals for 1776 (a musical celebrating the American bicentennial) took place in the building before it was completed.
Race, The Lark, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Stop the World – I Want to Get Off, Dracula, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Barefoot in the Park, A Flea in Her Ear, The Odd Couple, Death of a Salesman, Waiting for Godot, The Crucible, and Brighton Beach Memoirs. At least two productions, Spoon River Anthology and The Bad Seed, employed theater-in-the-round techniques. Some productions were taken to state competitions, and others were given repeat performances in dinner theaters and community theaters throughout the area.
Dedication ceremonies attended by former Governor Dale Bumpers and the family of Shelby Breedlove took place Oct. 3, 1976, and included a performance by the Fort Smith Symphony Orchestra conducted by Walter Minniear. President Kraby supported the programs at Breedlove Auditorium by attending concerts there and by allocating funds to support the artistic programs. Budgets increased, support came from Westark board members such as Nancy Llewellyn, and Breedlove Auditorium became a center of artistic activity with numerous concerts, solo performances, lectures, and exhibits.
Around the time that Breedlove was being completed, the Ballman-Speer Building was undergoing renovation; hence, the choir and other ensembles had to find alternative sites for both rehearsal and performance. In 1975 the Arkansas Federation of Music Clubs sent out an invitation for music groups to audition for “Arkansas Day” in Washington, D.C., as part of the national Bicentennial. Westark was selected as one of three school groups to represent Arkansas.
Instructor Tom Walton considered the late 1970s “golden years” of drama production at Breedlove Auditorium due to a well-stocked scene shop, hardworking actors, and its enthusiastic director, David Young. Young mounted productions of staged works such as Dr. Cook’s Garden, Scratch, The Tavern, J.B., The Star-Spangled Girl, The Great Cross-Country
Under the direction of Logan Green, the choir explored ways to raise the necessary $11,000 for travel expenses: members were sent trick-or-treating at Halloween; they cleaned up some property after a barn burning; a benefit concert was given by the violin-piano team of Alan and Billigene Pedigo; and Green put in a request for help at a Westark board meeting. Perhaps the most unusual fundraising technique, however, involved the sale of citrus fruits.
PAR T I I I : T H E COMMU N I T Y COL L EGE ER A , 1974- 1998
A large trailer delivered crates of oranges and grapefruit to the Ballman-Speer Building, and they were stacked up everywhere. Green had to store the overage in a bedroom of his home. Fortunately, the oranges arrived during a cool season which preserved them long enough for the choir to complete their sales. A last-minute contribution from the Gentry family of Van Buren allowed 42 members of the choir, Green, his wife, and music instructor Kathleen Keck to board a chartered Braniff plane and fly to Washington, D.C., to perform in April 1976. They appeared at The Kennedy Center and the Senate Office Building, on the Capitol steps, and at Mount Vernon, Va. During this period Breedlove Auditorium became home to a new and increasingly popular musical trend among local audiences —jazz. Walter Minniear wrote and received a number of grants, including an Arkansas Arts Council grant in which he selected Henry Rinne to conduct a two-year jazz program. Full of energy and enthusiasm, Rinne launched the jazz program at Westark and established the first Jazz Band, which, in 1985, won the collegiate competition at Northeastern State University, Tahlequah. He also developed the basketball pep band which lasted until Don Bailey took it over in 1985, and as Rinne said: It was a chore. The team played in two conferences, and they must have had 30 games. Sometimes we performed three times a week. Eventually, Rinne’s interest in scholarship and research led him to obtain his doctorate in comparative arts from Ohio University. Upon returning to Westark in 1987, he established the Comparative Arts (Humanities) program, which has thrived ever since. In recent years, elaborate productions have been staged by that department in Breedlove Auditorium under the banner “Humanities Sampler Series.” Productions were mounted by Greg Benson, Stephen Husarik, Marget and Peter Lippincott, Henry Rinne, Sherron Shuffield, Linda Wells, and Nancy Zechiedrich. The development of the Season of Entertainment series at Breedlove Auditorium illustrates the ingenuity of the college’s Student Activities Director, Stacey Jones. One day while working at home on a snow day, Jones realized that the Jazz Band and choral programs did not have sufficient attendance in Breedlove Auditorium, nor did Westark have a
Logan Green (first row left) and the Westark Choir. A highlight of the 1975–76 school year was Westark Choir’s visit to the nation’s capital for the Bicentennial. The choir performed on the U.S. Capitol steps and at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Former Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt (first row, right) took time to meet with the students and pose for photos.
sufficient budget with which to bring in big commercial shows. Advance ticket sales by subscription provided the solution to these problems in 1980. Jones decided to merge the academic concerts and commercial programs into a “Season of Entertainment.” This brought bigger audiences to all events and provided an environment in which talented students wanted to perform. Audience members accepted the idea enthusiastically, and the program grew so rapidly that Jones was able to offer a remarkable variety of events to the community, while simultaneously offering free admission to Westark students. Jones brought numerous other productions to the auditorium as part of Westark’s Season of Entertainment that included a national touring company production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, its first performance of the tour. Traditional concerts included performances by the Fort Smith Symphony Orchestra conducted by Walter Minniear and choral concerts conducted by Logan Green. Well-known instrumentalists such as pianist James Dick were brought in under an Alcoa Foundation grant. Helen Walton and Hillary Rodham Clinton came on one occasion to unveil the Arkansas Women’s Art Exhibit.
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Having a campus home in the Breedlove Building enabled the Season of Entertainment to begin on a very limited budget; rental costs, for example, were nonexistent. Later, working with the Fort Smith Civic Center, Jones strategically booked major road shows at reduced rates between their principal commitments in order to afford to have them perform in Fort Smith. Under Don Bailey, the Westark Jazz Band achieved great success in the new showcasing arrangement. Bailey demonstrated outstanding talent as a saxophone player and a showman. The list of musicians who played with Westark Jazz in either Breedlove Auditorium or the Fort Smith Civic Center in cooperation with Season of Entertainment reads like a Who’s Who of jazz musicians. The list includes Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, Buddy Rich, Jerry Coker, Jay McShann, Barney Kessel, Ed Shaughnessy, Ross Tompkins, Willie Thomas, Kenny Kehner, Dizzy Gillespie, Ernie Watts, Bill Watrous, Steve Allen, Lucie Arnaz, Tommy Newsom, Louie Bellson, New York Voices, and Marvin Hamlisch. Some of these performances involved backup from Westark faculty, students, and area musicians. In 1987, Bailey, the Jazz Band, and Miss Westark Pageant winners Michelle Copeland and Julie Russell performed to the astonishment and praise of officials from the State Board of Higher Education (SBHE), who were meeting at Fianna Hills Country Club in Fort Smith. After hearing Westark Jazz, college presidents attending the meeting attempted to recruit the Westark performers to their schools on the spot, and many State Board members changed their minds about the quality of two-year colleges and their students. Known also as an outstanding teacher, Bailey was one of three faculty who received the first Lucille Speakman Excellence in Teaching Award in 1986. Other recipients over the years include Brenda Cantwell, Anita Hammack (1986–87); Mike Cooper, Nancy Zechiedrich (1987–88); Linda Gibbons, David Meeks (1988–89); Martha Efurd, Jim Houston, Gene Wells (1989–90); John Deaton, Henry Rinne, Sharon Winn (1990–91); Bruce Caselman, Kent Estes, Sherron Shuffield (1991–92); Lynda Nelson, Darla Porter, Lonnie Watts (1992– 93); Susan Lynne McKinney (1993–94); Timothy P. McNeil, Don Lee, Ann Scott Winters (1994–95); Billy Higgins (1995–96); Zanette Douglas, Rod Nelson (1996–97); Stephanie Zerkel, Carolyn Filippelli, Cindy Lanphear (1997–98).
Don Bailey, Dizzy Gillespie, Stacey Jones, and Henry Rinne at the Fort Smith Airport after a Westark Jazz Band concert in 1990.
In 1998–99, the Speakman Award was expanded to include recognition of excellence in UAFS staff members as well as faculty and the awardees were Ragupathy Kannan, Jim Wyatt, Martha Coleman, Bruce Castleman, Robert Lowrey, Penny Pendleton (1999–2000); Deborah Fuller, Daniel Maher, Stacey Jones (2000–01); Monica Snyder, Debra Johnson, Dianna Beutelschies (2001–02); Kristine A. Herbert, Darin Doubrava, Robert D. Wilson (2002–03); Lori Norin, Rebecca Kaszubowski, Rhonda Caton, Lucius Corbett (2003–04); Tom Walton, Pamela Fout, Coletta Furner (2004–05); C. Todd Watson, Carol Donaldson McAlister, Jerry Street (2005–06); Roy Hill, Pat Eller, A.J. Spires (2006–07); John Martini, Rebecca Mroczek-Williamson, Helen Kiner, Karla Coplin (2008); Nancy Stockall, Don Bailey, Linda Turner, Jeanne Stevens (2009); Gabriel Matney, Andrea McCaleb, Valerie Arnoldussen (2010). After 2010, the Speakman Awards for faculty were expanded to include three categories: Excellence in Teaching; Excellence in Scholarship, Research, and Creativity; and Excellence in Professional and Community Service. The first three faculty members to receive Speakman Awards in these categories were Linda Tichenor, Ragupathy Kannan, and Argie Nell Nichols in 2011, and the staff awardees were Alan Pixley and Mike Daniels. In 2012, Pamela Davidson, Stephen Husarik, and Jack Jackson were the faculty awardees, and Julie Mosley and Nita Prock received the Speakman Award for staff.
PAR T I I I : T H E COMMU N I T Y COL L EGE ER A , 1974- 1998
When the Breedlove Building was built, Shelby Breedlove had originally planned to have it connect to the Ballman-Speer Building with an enclosed walkway. This would give Art Department members easy access to the Breedlove Gallery, located on the south end of the lobby at that time. The selection of exhibits and activities at the gallery was influenced by Walter Minniear and art instructors Pete Howard and Don Lee. The covered walkway never materialized.
turnaround, and nobody wants to write poetry or paint. Instead, they want a job.
After the Breedlove Building was completed, the Art Department moved from the Technical Complex into a more comfortable environment in the Ballman-Speer Building, in space formerly housing the college auditorium. A kiln was installed in the northeast outdoor corridor of Ballman-Speer for ceramics instructor Greer Farris (former student and 1963 yearbook editor). Farris produced numerous pieces of ceramic sculpture and other works that he displayed in Breedlove Gallery, Ballman-Speer, Fayetteville, and elsewhere in the state. He received an Arkansas Arts Council fellowship in 1985. Under the advocacy of President Kraby, the Art Department became quite active and sponsored numerous artists and exhibits. Kraby sent Walter Minniear to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., to gain information on display techniques, procedures for locating art exhibitions, and methods of locating artists. A number of influential artists displayed works, visited, and/or taught briefly in the Art Department, including Casimir Rutkowsky (director, Fort Smith Art Center, 1969– 72), Wolf Kahn, Jane Wilson, Jill Davis, Jed Perl, Robert Johnson, Carl Slaughter, and Dan Leary. Each left behind artworks that not only were included in the Westark collection, but have appreciated in value over the years. In a sense, the college profited from the visiting artists, both academically and financially. Westark students and instructors visited numerous art museums, playhouses, and other cultural points of interest during this period. David Young and Don Lee took students to New York to see Broadway plays and visit art museums. Enrollment was high in the aftermath of the 1970s, when it seemed that “everyone wanted to be an artist or a poet,” Lee said. He added: Nobody wanted to work [in business], and we benefited from that. Now [1990s] there’s been a
Shawntell Smith, Miss America 1996, at the Miss Westark Pageant on the Breedlove Auditorium stage, during the year of her reign.
The Miss Westark Pageant Stacey Jones was skeptical when he read a proposal by Linda Yancey in the 1977 The Collegian suggesting that the Miss Westark Pageant should become a preliminary competition for the Miss America Pageant. After Jones investigated the possibilities and met with officials of the Miss Arkansas Pageant, however, the proposal made more sense to him. He received approval from the administration and decided to “give it a whirl.” At the time, the Miss Westark Pageant had been a simple collegiate affair. Connecting it with the Miss America system would be an important move, as the principal goal of the Miss America system was to provide college scholarships for winners, and that provision would directly benefit the careers of individual students. The first Miss Westark Scholarship Pageant in Breedlove Auditorium franchised under the Miss America Pageant was held in April 1978. The young
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woman who won, April Clayton from Cameron, Okla., eventually went on to win the Miss Oklahoma title. The next year tickets for the pageant sold out in about two weeks. The third year, it moved to larger quarters in the gym, with an attendance of about 800 people, before eventually returning to Breedlove Auditorium in 1996. In the early years, about five people supervised the pageant along with the help of a now-defunct organization called Faculty Wives. Eventually, the number of supervisors grew to several dozen, with people taking charge of photography, publicity, wardrobes, video, and so on. There were escorts for the judges and contestants and also people to act as technicians and production coordinators. A “big sister” organization provided dressing room helpers for each contestant. Even though the contestants had perhaps participated in similar contests with their church or school groups, this pageant was often the first time they had stepped out onto a stage. Over the years, the Miss Westark Scholarship Pageant has evolved into one of the best-rated shows in Arkansas, comparing favorably to college pageants in other states because of the enormous number of people involved and quality of the stage productions. Miss Westark productions use handpainted sets, extensive lighting effects, and cues carefully prepared on a multi-page script. A 1988 Miss Westark set so impressed some Miss Arkansas Pageant visitors that they borrowed it for one of their productions in Hot Springs. Numerous graduates of the competition have gone on to successful careers in law, medicine, business, media, and even the FBI. Others continued in the contest circuit and won titles in the Miss Arkansas, Miss Oklahoma, and Miss America pageants. A number of reigning Miss Americas have visited the Miss Westark Pageant including Kylene Barker (1979), Sherrill Pruitt (1980), Susan Powell (1981), Elizabeth Ward (1982), and Debbie Maffett (1983). Shawntell Smith, Miss America 1996, from Muldrow, Okla., is a former Miss Westark contestant who speaks highly of the college wherever she goes. In the year of her reign, President Stubblefield nominated her for a national Outstanding Community College Alumni Award, which she then won.
The Houses That Westark Built In 1977, members of a local unit of the Arkansas Homebuilders Association approached Westark Community College with a concern that the average age of journeymen carpenters was unusually high (applicants were in their early 50s) and not enough young people were entering the residential construction field. To reverse this trend, President Kraby selected Frederick Hop to initiate a residential construction program at Westark. The first house produced by students in the new program was at the corner of Bryn Mawr Circle and Erin Oaks in Fianna Hills. Its construction was delayed due to a lack of equipment, a plan, and a lot, as well as the onset of an early snow that year. During these interruptions, students spent time on campus constructing a small work shed and sidewalk just north of the Technical Complex, which became the staging area for future Westark homebuilding projects. After witnessing the successful completion of Westark’s first house, potential sponsors were eager to get involved with the program. A second house was built north of the Technical Complex in a fenced area. Students added a shop area to a classroom, then cut a large opening in the north wall of the building and installed a double door. Hop devised a special coding system so that the components of this house could be stacked and arranged for quick assembly. On assembly day, construction began promptly at 8 a.m. according to drill. When students emerged from neighboring classrooms, they were amazed to see the wall frame of a house standing on a wood floor where nothing had stood before. The second house was later delivered to Oklahoma. As misfortune would have it, the house found a quick end. One night the house was burned to the ground; the next day only a few recognizable metal pieces could be found. It had cost $10,000 in materials to build (less heat, air, and kitchen cabinets), but had been appraised and insured for about four times that amount by the sponsor.
PAR T I I I : T H E COMMU N I T Y COL L EGE ER A , 1974- 1998
Community Service and Continuing Education: A Source of Westark Non-Credit Programs This Westark student-built house at 4911 Hardscrabble Way in Fort Smith was shown on the cover of Westark instructor Frederick Hop’s Residential Construction and Design: Techniques for the Modern Builder.
The last two program houses were of Hop’s doublewall design. Features included “continuous, diagonal core-bracing, superior cyclone rigidity.” These houses could be jacked up at one end with no significant sag. Greenwood residents had the chance to see one of them move down Main Street early one morning. From there, it was towed northeast on Highway 96, where it arrived at a low water bridge too narrow to navigate. The house was jacked up, transported over the top of the abutments, lowered, and taken to a hilltop site on Been Ridge Road. Despite the fact that Westark homes were exceptional values and provided students the opportunity to learn about the latest construction methods, the college phased out residential construction in 1983. There was a waiting list of sponsors for houses, but too few students for the program. Perhaps the legacy of the program will survive best in the first of five textbooks Hop published through Prentice Hall in 1988 entitled Residential Construction and Design. It received international circulation and featured on the cover a full-color photo of a house now located at 4911 Hardscrabble Way in Fort Smith, built by Westark students. The student (and sponsor) of that house, Donald “Donny” Ginger, went on to become a well-known builder in the eastern United States and in Fayetteville, Ark.
Early directors of the non-credit Community Service programs included Gabe Peters, Harold Hile, and David Landsburg. Landsburg gave Community Service its first real impetus for development in 1973. Working from the Technical Complex, he obtained a state grant that provided tuition for noncredit courses taken by senior citizens, called the 60+ Program. Landsburg developed enrollment by sending out a car to pick up seniors and bring them to the Westark campus. A collection of writings from the classes in which these elder students participated, titled Rear View Window, was edited by author and journalist Edwin P. Hicks and was published hardbound by Westark Community College in 1976. Hicks said that as far as he knew, this was the first book of its kind to be written entirely by a student group whose average age was around 70 years. One of the contributors to the publication, Willie B. Wiley, spoke about the golden years of life: Our country is young, and there is still much work to be done. As we reach our 200th birthday in 1976, may we be reminded that if 200 years makes a young country, surely 65 years does indeed make a young person. Landsburg went on to Worthington Community College (Minnesota). His assistant director, Frank Prosser, was then in charge of the Community Service and Continuing Education program until Sandra “Sandi” Sanders became director in 1979. The name of the area later changed to Community and Continuing Education, which was followed by a change to Continuing Education. When Sanders arrived, the program was growing but lacked organization. The department had a reputation that “if you send something to Continuing Education, it will surely get lost.” There were about 5,000 students enrolled, a number that subsequently grew under her administration. A tremendous need for community service, avocational, and recre-
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ational courses existed in the community at the time. To fill this need, disco dancing, cooking classes, children’s classes, various sports, and other courses were put in place. Childbirth classes with a large nursing staff were designed by Eileen Kradel for both Sparks and St. Edward hospitals, and numerous expectant parents signed up for them. Under Sanders’ leadership, Continuing Education enrollment grew to a record number of 14,524. The more courses Sanders added, the more opportunities opened up for employment in the community. Community Service, for example, started the first aerobic courses in Fort Smith; many instructors who became certified in this area moved out to start their own businesses. Later, the two local hospitals and the YWCA incorporated the class into their physical education programs. Many churches adopted community service mental health classes into their programs, including the course “Single Again” for divorced individuals. As times changed, Westark began to focus on professional development and continuing education, rather than community service training. Some American educators feared that the frivolous nature of community service courses could harm the reputation of community colleges, and this issue became a fashionable topic of discussion in journals and at professional meetings of the time. Westark decided to retain its community service courses, but began to offer high school gifted-andtalented programs as well. Top high school students were enrolled in classes that focused upon creative writing, examination of the environment (with field trips to the Buffalo River and Cedar Creek), the performing arts, and mathematics. Locally celebrated public school mathematics instructor and decorated Westark instructor Bruce Caselman made his first contact with Westark through this program. Professional adult education programs that were developed included workshops for health professionals, a legal assistant program, and courses in construction and electrical wiring. Perhaps one of the most important developments, however, was the prototype for the Business and Industrial Institute at Westark. Sanders was the first to see a need for workforce development in this area. She had observed that continuing education divisions around the country were establishing such programs, so she went to a
conference sponsored by the College of DuPage (Illinois) to learn how they were created. James Kraby was still president in 1982 when her program proposal was taken to the board of Trustees. Surprisingly, two members of the board were against establishing the institute. They did not feel a need existed in the community and 60+ Program participants are guided did not feel that onto a bus by David Landsburg in 1973. Working from the Technical Complex, Westark should Landsburg developed enrollment in provide resources community service programs by sending for area businessout a car to pick up seniors and bring es. It was their them to the campus. position that the primary mission of the college was to offer credit and general education classes. After discussing the matter with Sanders and Kraby, the board decided to allow provisional acceptance of the Business and Industrial Institute, and approval was given to hire a director. Ron Winfrey took up the directorship in 1982 and began with open enrollment seminars in supervision and management. Westark sent invitations to various companies. The first organization to participate was the printing firm of Weldon, Williams & Lick. Later, the Whirlpool Corporation and Tyson Foods joined the initiative. During the second year of the program, Sanders saw a need for personal computer training in business organizations and the community. She obtained approval to purchase 16 personal computers for the college. The lab was located in the Business Annex on Grand Avenue, a converted group of shops and stores. Ron Floyd taught many of the courses, offered at first as non-credit and later for credit. The fee for these courses was initially higher than the standard tuition charged by the college because the division had to be self-supporting. After the program stabilized, a regular tuition rate was charged. Seventy-five courses were eventually transferred to the Computing Information Systems Division to become part of the credit program. The Business
PAR T I I I : T H E COMMU N I T Y COL L EGE ER A , 1974- 1998
and Industrial Institute thus owes its origin directly to Community Service and Continuing Education, which virtually created it. Since then, and as a result of efforts by Robert Smallfoot, Gary Wilson, and Steve Lease, as well as the ideas of Joel Stubblefield, the Business and Industrial Institute at Westark became one of the largest and most successful programs of its type in the state.
Westark Anniversary Celebrations The Westark 50th anniversary was an ongoing celebration that culminated on Sept. 13, 1978, the anniversary of the first day of classes in 1928. There were official college buttons, coasters, and letterheads for the year that read “The first 50, 1928–78”; “50 and feelin’ good, 1928–78”; and “I’m proud of Westark, 50 years of service 1928–78.” The 50th anniversary celebration parade began just before noon and was led by a restored 1928 Ford automobile carrying Harold Mott, president of the first graduating class of Westark. The motorcade proceeded to Darby Junior High School, site of the first Westark classes, where a helium-filled balloon representing the beginning of the college was
The Westark 50th anniversary celebration parade was led by a restored 1928 Ford automobile carrying Harold Mott, president of the first graduating class. The motorcade proceeded to Darby Junior High School, site of the college’s first classes.
released, cheerleaders danced, and a plaque was presented to Principal Richard Malloy. The parade then moved to Northside High School, where a plaque was presented to Principal Frank Jones. Richard Hudson released 24 balloons representing the years during which Westark was located at Northside (1928–52). Finally, the procession returned to the current campus, where 26 more balloons were released for a total of 50, each one symbolizing a year in the life of Westark. Stacey Jones had contacted Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt to obtain a United States flag that was flown over the Capitol in Washington, D.C., to commemorate Westark’s 50th birthday. (Although the flag was later delivered to Westark, it is now lost.) Governor David Pryor proclaimed Sept. 13, 1978, as “Westark Community College Day.” Mayor Jack Freeze read a Proclamation, and a huge birthday cake was served to faculty, students, and visitors in Fullerton Union. Festivities culminated in an evening dinner show in the Union that featured an Arkansas group called the Greasy Greens playing music from the 1920s through the 1970s. Members of the first graduating class, former students, and teachers heard music by Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, and disco composers. A Southwest Times Record editorial after the event explained the significance of Westark to the local community at the time:
Students rafting on the Arkansas River with Westark’s 50th anniversary slogan.
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It all began in 1928 with eight full-time faculty. This year Westark has 97 full-time faculty … The total number of lives that have been touched and influenced by Westark staggers the imagination. School officials estimate that more than 208,000 people have been enrolled in credit courses since the school opened its doors to the public …Westark has become a standard by which true community colleges are measured. The 60th anniversary was a yearlong event that resulted in the publication of a booklet entitled Reflections at 60, written by Richard Hudson, who was then vice president for planning and development. For the 70th anniversary celebration, the Westark Foundation authorized compiling Westark College: The First 70 Years. A reading and performance of material from the book by its authors was presented Sept. 13, 1998. Each author’s reading was separated by interludes of period music played on the carillon in the Reynolds Tower. Newly appointed chief operating officer and provost of the college Sandi Sanders introduced Kenneth Brown, who gave greetings from the class of 1928. The event began with a brass choir performing the Fort Smith Junior College Alma Mater by William Murphy, arranged by Chuck Booker. Festivities ended with a seven-minute bell peal from the Reynolds Tower—each minute representing a decade in the history of the college.
International Students at Westark There were only a few international students enrolled at Westark when Jane Pryor was hired as the international student adviser and coordinator in 1979. The number jumped to 50 the following year, even though resources for such students were limited. Simple word of mouth brought them to the college. Pryor sent out notices to American Centers located in foreign countries, letting them know of the institution, and soon the population rose to 127. With an International Student Center set up next to the nurse’s office downstairs in Fullerton Student Union, Westark had 30 countries represented in its student population.
The majority of the international students came from Iran. Students from other Arab countries such as Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait arrived later. Spanish-speaking students came from Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, Mexico, and El Salvador. About 20 Japanese students enrolled at Westark. Pryor advised and counseled the students on immigration and academics. Most of them were engineering majors, which meant they needed information about requirements for transfer of credits to other schools. Pryor developed numerous transfer plans and articulation agreements over the years. These agreements proved a critical development for Westark College history because they guaranteed degree-seeking students a smooth transition to other institutions. Today there are approximately 400 articulation agreements between Westark and other institutions of higher learning, written by Pryor, John Harris, Roger Young, Leanna Garrett, and Cheryl Denton (Peters). During Pryor’s first year as advisor to the international students, the Iran Hostage Crisis created a tense situation. Sometimes students of an entirely different culture were mistaken for Iranians in Fort Smith, and they were subjected to ridicule. Some Mexican students were publicly harassed at Central Mall because, with their dark hair and dark eyes, they looked Iranian. At first, the Iranians were anxious to talk about the crisis to news reporters, but when they realized that they were being misquoted and misinterpreted, they felt exploited and withheld comment. U.S. immigration officials came to Westark to determine which foreign students were registered and how well they were doing. They learned that the only problems Iranian students had were financial because their foreign stipends had been withdrawn. Without support, some of them had to return to Iran, but the majority found ways to survive. After the crisis, the Iranian students simply finished their programs and went on with their lives. Unlike the decline of the Iranian student population, which was essentially a political circumstance, the international student population at Westark changed composition over the years mainly because of the shifting economies of countries. Quite a few students came from Venezuela at one point, but the failure of their country’s economy affected that student population. Students from Japan and Arab countries lost some of their support and, as a result, sometimes curtailed their degree goals to accept a two-year rather than four-year degree.
PAR T I I I : T H E COMMU N I T Y COL L EGE ER A , 1974- 1998
The International Student Dinner and Talent Show became a favorite event at Westark. With interesting sets, performances, and international food, it was attended by about 250 people each year. Approximately 70 international students would make food and provide entertainment for the event. Many talented Laotian, Cuban, Vietnamese, and other students sang or played an instrument. Typically, there were a dozen acts and entertainments coupled with a selection of foods prepared in the kitchen of Fullerton Union. Westark students dressed up in native costumes and displayed artifacts such as brassware or handcarved objects. One year, some Arabic students constructed a tent painted with the designs of Bedouin nomads. Another year, a poetry presentation was given in which students read a poem in their native language. Listeners enjoyed hearing poems read in foreign languages and, because of the rhythm of native speech, even felt that they understood them. As Pryor said: One year, a belly dancer was brought in; some Fort Smith medical doctors of Arabic heritage did not judge the dancer to be of sufficient skill, and so they donated money to get a better one from Little Rock each year thereafter. Although the last International Student Dinner was held in 1987, similar activities have since continued through the efforts of Bob Lowrey and the Multicultural Student Association. International students have given the Westark student body a glimpse into the culture of other countries, helping the campus become more cosmopolitan. Some international students attracted by educational advantages offered by Westark have remained in the Fort Smith area, further enriching the community. Others, such as Miyuki Hori of Tokyo, a 1998 honors graduate of Westark, and Rossano Cherubini of Milan, are developing professional careers working in their home countries, and, in so doing, give the college an invaluable international connection. Other international students distinguished themselves on campus: Miki Kawazu of Kyushu, Japan; Heidi Sommer of Hamburg, Germany; and Luis Justinaiano of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Kawazu and
Students performing at an international student dinner in 1987.
Justinaiano heard about Westark from friends who had attended college in the United States, indicating both the value of word of mouth endorsements and the extent of Westark’s renown. Herod Johanbakhshnik arrived in Fort Smith from Iran in 1995 to attend school at Westark. In an interview, Johanbakhshnik said: When I lived back home [in Iran], I always had a picture in my imagination of Westark; it was my dream to come to the United States and go to college here, and Westark was my first choice. Johanbakhshnik heard about Westark because he had been preceded at the college by a member of his family. This anecdote by Richard Hudson reflects a situation faced by an Iranian student in the 1980s as he arrived in the United States bound for Westark: One day in the early 1980s, I arrived on campus at 6 a.m. to check on the TV channel programming at the Gardner Building. A young man was standing by one of the posts in the foyer of the Gardner Building with luggage in hand. I asked, “May I help you?” The student explained that he was from Iran, that he had flown to the United States and taken a bus from Dallas to Fort Smith. When he arrived at 2 a.m., he told a cab driver, “Take me to Westark.” He waited all night for the buildings to open so that he could find out what to do next. Without any advance contact with the school, he simply came 10,000 miles because a relative had told him that Westark was a good place to go.
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1980 The first electronic student registration takes place during the summer term. An International Student Center is opened in Fullerton Student Union. 1981 The Westark men’s basketball team wins the national championship. Westark gets a share of mineral lease money from Fort Chaffee.
1982 The Business and Industrial Institute is established. Governor-elect Bill Clinton makes the first of several visits to the Westark campus.
1983 Joel Richard Stubblefield is named sixth president of the college. The grade of “F” replaces “NC.” 1985 For the first time in its history, Westark receives a 10-year reaccreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. The Echols property is purchased by Westark. The student newspaper, The Collegian, is renamed Lion Pride. OCLC, the library’s first computer service, is installed. 1986 Westark television begins broadcasting, and a computerized telephone system is installed.
1987 The new Holt Library is completed and Fullerton Student Union is renovated. The Westark Faculty Association votes to institute a designated-smoking-area policy. 1988 The revitalized Westark Foundation begins the first Major Gifts Campaign. Both Grand Avenue and Waldron Road are widened. The 60th anniversary celebration includes publication of Reflections at 60. Student enrollment exceeds 4,000. 1989 The University Center is approved by the state. The gym receives an upgrade, and the bookstore is relocated to the corner of Kinkead Avenue and Waldron Road.
PAR T I I I : T H E COMMU N I T Y COL L EGE ER A , 1974- 1998
In 1982, virtually all campus computing was done on a single mainframe computer by these seven staff members: Mike Brooks, Pam Franco, John Collins, Pam Fout, Celeste Vorster, Liz Balls, and Ray Sparks.
The First Online Student Registration Byron D. Branch, director of computing services, and vice president Ben Whitfield obtained the first Westark computer, a used IBM 360, from the State Employment Security Division of Little Rock in 1969. Though it held only 64K of memory it was the largest computer in Fort Smith at the time. Installed in the Science Building (now Flanders Business Center), it was relocated to the Gardner Building in summer 1972. The IBM 360 was a huge piece of machinery; a crane was needed to get it through the second floor window of the computer room in the Gardner Building. Westark’s first computer-assisted administrative functions took shape on this equipment, including a payroll system and a registration system. All the software routines were written inhouse because commercially sold programs were not readily available. Data for grade processing and payroll records was stored on cards, subjected to card-sorting routines, and then printed on information sheets. The procedure of combining card input with magnetic disk
storage improved the accuracy and efficiency of the system. This method continued until 1979, when the first online application system was installed. By 1979 the IBM 360 had been upgraded as much as possible, and adding storage capacity was becoming costly. Arkansas Best Corporation donated an IBM 370, model 135, to the college that year. It was a newer-generation computer than the one Westark owned and was capable of online processing through a system called CAST that was installed on the unit. The first full online trial of the CAST system occurred at student registration in summer 1980. An unanticipated flood of students arrived for registration the same day. They lined up at the doors of Fullerton Student Union and streamed out into the parking lot. The wait seemed interminable, and student patience was tested, but registration continued until 10 o’clock in the evening. In all, 1,064 students were processed, the largest number of registrants ever to enroll in a single day at Westark. The CAST system had passed a rigorous test. Although there were a number of computer changes over the years, the college continued to use the CAST system until 1994, when programs were converted to the Banner System.
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Westark’s Computer Archivist A student at Fort Smith Junior College in the 1940s, John R. Collins completed his career in the U.S. Air Force and retired as a lieutenant colonel. In 1973 he answered an ad for a position in the Westark computer division. Collins had majored in meteorology and did not have specialized courses in computer science, so Ray Sparks was unable to hire him full time. Collins decided to register as a student at Westark again and took programming courses along with his daughter, who had just graduated from high school. He was first hired as a student worker and later as a staff programmer. Only years later did Sparks learn that Collins had been director of the Computer Center for the Meteorological Division of the Air Force in Washington, D.C. Collins had outstanding talent at writing auditing routines to determine whether or not data was balanced, and his talent had great importance not only to the Westark computer division but to the Westark Foundation as well. In 1980 Collins decided to go back into the early Westark transcript records, take the old information from paper copies, and load that information into the computer system. It was difficult for the college to determine who the early students were after they had undergone a series of name changes. Fortunately, Collins and his wife had grown up in Fort Smith and they knew when many students had gone to the college. Collins would call former students and learn, “Yes, that was my name 30 years ago, but I had a couple of divorces. My name is now ….” His extensive searches and attention to detail are responsible for the quality of data now in the Westark College transcript file. It was of singular importance to the future of the Westark database, both in terms of updating information and in terms of alumni relations. Collins taught computer science classes until he retired in 1987, yet he continued to teach part time and helped with the conversion to the new Banner System up to 1994.
An Early Faculty Experience with Microcomputers In 1979, psychology instructor Linda Gibbons traveled to several community colleges in Texas and Oklahoma to investigate developments in technology. While she was at Oklahoma City Community College, a chemistry instructor demonstrated a personal computer to her. Mainframe computers had always intimidated Gibbons, but she felt comfortable operating the small personal computer. When she returned to Westark, looking for a personal computer, she found six Commodore microcomputers in the Gardner Building. Her journey into the computer world began there with a tutorial cassette on how to program in Beginner’s AllPurpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC), but she found early programs difficult to handle because words did not break between the ends of lines; a new line would begin arbitrarily after 40 characters. Programming instructions were difficult, and graphics required complicated instructions as well. When the lab switched to Apple® computers, the programming language changed, which added to Gibbons’ frustration. Soon, another hardware change came, and Gibbons finally said, “There’s got to be an easier way.” She wanted to have her own personal computer, feeling that she could master a machine if she could work on it for an extended period of time. Westark then obtained a program in PILOT using one-letter commands, which was much simpler to use because it would break words automatically at the end of each line. Gibbons was now able to organize a psychology presentation on classical conditioning with an accompanying quiz, and she invited President Kraby to view her project. Kraby went through her program, observed that it was nicely organized, and eventually got to the quiz. He missed a few of the questions, but he was convinced that this technology represented the future of education. After Gibbons told him that she could make tutorial programs to match any textbook on the market, Kraby went to the Westark Foundation and requested funds for an Apple® computer for the Psychology Department. Gibbons connected it to a printer and made some tutorial programs.
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A few months later, Bell & Howell Company accepted Gibbons into a project along with a number of other authors and offered to market one of her programs, Psychology Tutor. She worked on the project over a year before it unfortunately had to be canceled due to production costs. As a consolation, the company returned reproduction rights to all the authors, and Gibbons gave the tutorial program to the Learning Assistance Center. As a result of her pioneer work with computer programming, Gibbons received the first Whirlpool Master Teacher Award in 1980. Other faculty who received the award for achievements in their fields include: Martha Efurd (1981), Mary Copeland (1982), John Preas (1983), Calline (Dipboye) Ellis (1984), Betty Price (1985), Paul Leggett (1986), Jerry Center (1987), Anita Hammack (1988), Bill Lacewell (1989), Ron Floyd (1990), David Meeks (1991), Sharon Winn (1992), Mary Jane Keel (1993), Terry Polinskey (1994), Henry Q. Rinne (1995), Edward R. Levy (1996), Robert W. Lowrey (1997), Emma Watts (1998), David Craig (1999), Lori Norin (2000), Ann Scott Winters (2001), Myron Rigsby (2002), Jo Alice Blondin (2003), Lynda Nelson (2004), Billy D. Higgins (2005), Carol M. Warner (2006), Ragupathy Kannan (2007).
Joel Stubblefield: Strategy and Growth
Fort Smith native Joel Stubblefield was a product of DuVal grade school, Fort Smith Junior High, and Fort Smith High School. He attended Fort Smith Junior College in 1955 at the rather young age of 16 because he had skipped third grade in school. Stubblefield was far more interested in his 1942 Chevrolet automobile than college his freshman year and did not distinguish himself as a student. Seeking a fresh start in 1956, he attended Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, majoring in business. In order to support himself, Stubblefield went through Reserve Officer Training Corps (which paid $27 a month) and obtained a commission as an officer in the U.S. Army. After fulfilling his military obligation he went on to obtain a master’s degree in business administration from Syracuse University (New York) and thereafter continued his career in the Army. Twenty years later, he decided to retire and seek a position in Arkansas, leaving his job as Resource Manager
or the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. Stubblefield visited Fort Smith and Fayetteville every Friday for several months in 1980, looking for a job, even though everyone told him there was no work. Whirlpool, the largest plant in Fort Smith, had just laid off 3,000 workers, and there was little reason to expect that work would be available in other companies. Looking through the newspapers one day he saw an ad for dean of business affairs at Westark Community College. He turned to his wife and said, “That’s it, that’s the job I want.” In the meantime, however, he had applied for and received an offer for the number-two financial post at the University of Arkansas. While a moving van was being loaded at Stubblefield’s Fort Leavenworth residence, President Kraby called to offer him a position at Westark. Stubblefield immediately accepted and phoned Fred Vorsanger at the University of Arkansas to let him know he would be going to Westark. He reasoned that in Fort Smith he would be one notch higher on the administrative ladder as dean of business affairs. He accepted a salary of $22,000 per year, which was about half of his armed services retirement pay at the time. Stubblefield worked from August 1980 through April 1983 in the business office: supervising payroll, purchasing, cafeteria, bookstore, buildings and grounds, insurance, and fringe benefits. As James Kraby said: He burned the midnight oil. I’d drive by at nine o’clock, coming back from a social event in town, and I’d see his office light on. I had to be careful what I asked him to do because he would stay up all night to get reports to me by the next morning, when I really didn’t need them until the following week. In April 1983, Kraby obtained a position in Arizona, and the Board of Trustees named Stubblefield as his interim replacement. Stubblefield retained his own position as dean of business affairs, which by then had been changed to the title of vice president for finance and administration, and handled both jobs through September 1983. He was surprised that he had been named interim president because there were others with longer tenure who could have been chosen. He wanted to determine the scope of his duties as interim president, and asked at a meeting of the board when they appointed him:
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Do you want me to be the kind of interim president that will merely keep the college heading in the right direction and between the curbs … until we get a new president, or are you giving me the green light to make any changes I see that need to be made? Bill Thompson, board member and attorney, said, “If you see things that need to be done, you’ve got the green light to go ahead and act like a president.” One of the recommendations of the 1977 North Central Association reaccreditation report was that there should be more input from the “lowest levels” of the workforce at Westark. Stubblefield wisely decided to consult with all members of the campus community for the next week, visiting with faculty, office groups, and individuals, asking, “What things do you need to change? What tools do you need? What opportunities will help your department to grow?” Stubblefield put the ideas he had collected into a four-page plan covering goals and strategies in all areas, from academics to the physical plant. He acted to strengthen the academic programs by returning to a traditional grading system. He tirelessly lobbied the Arkansas General Assembly for adequate funding and led the college into a remarkable endowment program. He said, “Let’s focus on quality instead of quantity and raise expectations.” Instructor Sherron Shuffield reported that his approach was perceived by many faculty members as a refreshing break with the past. “It was as if doors were suddenly opened,” she said. Stubblefield had little academic administrative experience and had not even applied for the position, so he was again surprised in September 1983 when the Board of Trustees asked him to become the sixth president of Westark. Others were not at all surprised. He had treated Westark as a business and developed strategies for its development; the effects of his presidency were immediately felt at all levels of the institution. The faculty became larger, more diverse, and cosmopolitan, and it had better credentials. With a lot of work over a sustained period, more funds became available to the college because of successful legislative negotiations, a successful local millage election, and large private gifts obtained through the Westark Foundation. In 1983 the
Joel R. Stubblefield, sixth president of the college and first chancellor of the university. Under his leadership the faculty increased in number, became more diverse, and held improved credentials. Stubblefield’s success at legislative negotiations, passing a local millage proposal, and securing private gifts led to increased funding for the institution. Approximately $48 million in private gifts came to the college during his tenure. The University Center, Unique College status, and membership in the state system as the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith were all achieved during his presidency and chancellorship. Credit student enrollment rose from 3,000 to over 6,000 students, and the physical plant doubled in size from 40 to over 100 acres. In addition, Stubblefield saw the completion of the Boreham Library, the Math-Science/University Center, the Business and Industrial Institute, Baldor Technology Center, Pendergraft Health Sciences Center, Joel R. and Barbara L. Stubblefield Convocation Center, Sebastian Commons apartment complex, Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center, and Donald W. Reynolds Plaza, Tower, and Campus Green.
Foundation held a bank account with $85,000; that figure had grown to $20 million by 1998. Passage of the local millage in 1990 resulted in an increase in millage from $600,000 a year to over $5 million a year in 1998. New programs were authorized by the legislature and developed, including the University Center bachelor’s and master’s degrees offered by five universities located on the Westark campus, and unique bachelor’s degree programs offered by Westark itself. This uniqueness gave rise to the name change from Westark Community College to Westark College in February 1998. Credit student population had risen from 3,000 to nearly 6,000 with another 800 students in University Center programs and several thousand in non-credit programs. In a decade, the campus more than doubled in size, increasing from 40 to over 100 acres. Boreham Library, the Math-Science/University Center, the Business and Industrial Institute building, the Baldor Technology Center, the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center, the Pendergraft Health Services Center, a new arena, and the Donald W. Reynolds Plaza, Tower, and Campus Green were added to the campus. The University Center, the new Westark bachelor degrees, the expansion of the Business and
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Industrial Institute, and the Western Arkansas Technical Center consortium (with 25 area public school districts) were all accomplished through state legislation that President Stubblefield devised or pushed to enactment. President Stubblefield succeeded in his efforts to expand the scope of the college because of a passionate commitment to advancing the cause of the college and because he was raised in the community and understood its people. He had an existing network of friends, and he had the tone and manner that enabled him to make new friends. Local businessmen felt comfortable with him and believed in his goals. Additionally, he felt the pressure to succeed because his own family members still resided in the area. “You can’t make decisions in a cavalier fashion if you are living and working in your own hometown,” he said.
Boreham Library One of the findings of the 1985 North Central Association evaluation was that Westark could not continue to accomplish its goals and missions without a new library. The college had just paid off the bonds on the Vines Building and now set aside $2.6 million to acquire and furnish a new library building. Officials would have liked the new building to be twice its actual size, but funding limitations of the old millage rates prevented it. The existing Holt Library was a collection of approximately 40,000 volumes that held traditional hardbound print indexes such as the Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature. It was primarily a print library visited by instructors and students who were printoriented. When Holt first opened in 1960, it was perceived as a blessing to librarian George Lamb and others who suffered so long in the single-room library of the old Administration Building. As the years went by, however, Holt also became outdated. Hardworking and enthusiastic students put a great deal of effort into their research each day at Holt Library. Curtis Ivery (who became president of Wayne County Community College in Michigan), Martha Efurd, and Terri Leins taught developmental education classes there. English classes worked at open tables in the center of an often hectic reading room because too many people were trying to do
the same thing in a very small space. Bare tile floors increased the noise level, and spurious noises were heard as students walked through the steel frame book stacks that were referred to as the “erector set.” Bookshelves lined the hallways, and periodical room shelves were packed so closely together that just one person could move through them. Sometimes things became extremely uncomfortable when the heating and cooling malfunctioned. There was no humidity control, and if the temperature got too hot or uncomfortable, someone opened a window. A manual charging system was employed in circulation. Charge cards were stamped with a number and a return-date stamp. Overdue or lost books were not easy to keep track of using this method. Overdue penalties were 10 cents a day and 25 cents a day on reserve materials, compared with 15 cents for regular overdue and $1 for reserve materials today. Holt Library obtained its first computer after joining an automated network in 1985. Some electronic cataloging began as a result of that new piece of equipment, and the library was able to do interlibrary loans electronically, a very impressive accomplishment for the time. With the name of the college placed conspicuously on a beautiful 15-foot wrought-iron gate in front of it, Holt Library would today bring back nostalgic memories to many of its former occupants, but it was clearly an outdated facility by the time the 1980s had arrived. Following completion of the new library, it was refurbished for use by the English department. Under the guidance of a committee including librarian Max Burns, the new library project was begun in 1986. What may seem curious today (in light of the Campus Green) is that the front door of the new library was positioned toward what was then the “center” of the campus, facing both the Vines and Gardner buildings and the service door of the Fullerton Student Union. After the new building was completed, librarian Wilma Cunningham and physical plant director Ed Nagy were given the assignment to relocate the library materials from the old library to the new. Joel Stubblefield requested that the library remain open so that students could check out books even during the weeks of transition from one building to another, and this imposed a serious logistical problem. Wilma Cunningham devised a method whereby the circulation desk remained at the Holt Building until
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just half of the books were moved to the new library (approximately one week). Then the circulation desk was moved to the Boreham Library while the remaining books were relocated. When a book was requested at the circulation desk, runners were sent out to the other building to retrieve it. The staff borrowed book carts from elementary, junior high, and high schools in town; books were loaded onto them, put in vans, and moved to a staging area in the new library. They were then carried to the appropriate stacks using a numbering system. It took ingenuity, planning, and much hard work to accomplish the building switch without interrupting library service. The new library was equipped with a humidity control mechanism and a four-pipe heating and air conditioning system that could both heat and cool simultaneously. It thus marked the next generation of campus buildings. Rooms were soundproofed, floors were carpeted, and classroom spaces were included. Learning CDs became available after the move, and library attendance skyrocketed. Manual checking of books continued for a time until a new automated system was installed. One day in 1991, Joel Stubblefield and Carolyn Moore, executive director of the Westark Foundation and vice president for institutional advancement, had breakfast with Roland “Rollie” Boreham, chairman of Baldor Company, at Denny’s® restaurant on Rogers Avenue. Boreham told them that he and his
wife, Sally, wished to assist the college with a $1 million gift. He talked with them about how librarians Carolyn Filippelli, Martha Coleman, and Charlotte Kirkpatrick had been helpful to him in the past. Some of his employees at Baldor had used the library and had received a great deal of assistance in their research. He was further impressed by the fact that the actual daily usage of the new library far exceeded that of the Fort Smith Public Library. As a result of his experiences and impressions, he decided to present a gift to the library. Only limited funds had been available for the purchase of books at Holt Library. Thanks to the kindness of the Borehams, a special endowment fund of $1 million was established, with annual earnings to be used for the acquisition of books and equipment for the library. As a result of their gift, Boreham was the name given to the building. Westark received several other gifts from Rollie Boreham in succeeding years, and a special room was set aside in the library so that he could study and read whenever he came to the campus. Boreham Library today offers patrons information through electronic databases such as LexisNexis®, Expanded Academic Index, FirstSearch, and Internet sources. Students can research legal, medical, news, and business information subjects easily through electronic means.
Opened in 1987, with 27,000 square feet of space, the Boreham Library signaled the beginning of a new generation of climate-controlled buildings on campus with simultaneous heating and cooling and humidity controls.
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Carolyn Moore, vice president for institutional advancement and executive director of the Westark Foundation, with Roland “Rollie” Boreham, chairman, Baldor Company, at a luncheon in 1998.
Growth of the Westark Foundation
People, if we’re not going to raise money, we need to resign, every one of us, because we’re just taking the seats of people who could be here that care about this. I challenge you. Let’s all resign if we’re not going to raise money.
It was a radical suggestion because community colAfter retiring from the Board of Trustees in 1974, leges simply did not raise money in that era. Students Dr. T.A. Feild III was appointed to the newly created were said to have more loyalty to Westark Foundation Board. Dr. Over the years a myth arose that books were the four-year institutions than Feild had attended the hand-carried from Holt to the new library via the two-year schools they University of Virginia and Johns a human chain. A limited number of books attended, and Westark was conHopkins University and was were actually transferred this way as a sidered unique in that it had a familiar with the methods of publicity device, however; the bulk of the materials were relocated with hand-trucks, foundation at all. fundraising in higher educa- carts, and other vehicles. No human chain tion. At meetings, he often could have carried so many books and still The Foundation Board declined expressed his opinion that the accommodate President Stubblefield’s to raise a proposed $50,000, but request that the library remain open during Westark Foundation Board the transition from one building to another. out of respect for Dr. Feild, they should be engaged in fundraisagreed to pay the salary of a ing, but few people listened to part-time fundraiser. Feild remembered Carolyn him. The Westark Foundation did little to actively Moore, who had worked at Westark from 1968 to raise money for the college at the time. The prevail1984 as teacher and chair of the Division of Health ing attitude of Foundation Board members was that Occupations. President Stubblefield offered her the since Westark had now attained state support, it part-time position. Moore knew little about this should no longer ask for money as it had done earfield, but began a serious study of the subject. Soon lier in its history. Board members typically discussed she understood the vast potential of philanthropy. reinvestment of the very limited college stock portNo one on staff in 1987 felt that citizens would give folio, ways to support athletics, or means for evalutheir private dollars to a public two-year school, so ating potential property purchases, but they rarely she decided to do a small feasibility study. Moore spoke about raising funds. interviewed 32 community business leaders to learn what they thought about Westark engaging in priEventually, Dr. Feild became impatient with the lack vate-sector fundraising. President Stubblefield and of interest. He stood up at one meeting and said: the board were surprised to hear her findings: Westark was the best-kept secret in Western Arkansas, it was well past the time for seeking con-
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tributions because others such as St. Edward and Sparks hospitals had done extremely well in this area, and the business leaders had not given donations to Westark simply because the college had never asked them. The Foundation Board agreed to pay Moore’s salary for one year with the provision that she raise monies at least equal to her salary. One of her first moves was to develop a master plan for approaching this new venture. She then attended the National Council for Resource Development conference in Washington, D.C., where she heard and was impressed by Ray Clements’ presentation about private-sector fundraising. Clements had worked in development at Brigham Young University and Utah State University, and he had recently started his own business as a fundraising consultant. The college brought him to Fort Smith in early December 1988 to assess the plans that Carolyn Moore had already prepared for Westark under President Stubblefield’s guidance. Clements was very impressed with Westark, the town of Fort Smith, Carolyn Moore, and President Stubblefield. He asked the president to describe what the college needed in terms of instructional equipment, buildings, scholarships, and so forth, and the president responded with a wish list valued at approximately $12 million. Using that list, Clements completed a feasibility study during June 1988 to see what 70 key citizens would support. At the end of his study, he said: I have never seen this before. I did not hear one negative thing about the college in all of my interviews with the 70 leaders. I’ve never seen this in all the colleges I have worked in. You’re ready to do a major gifts campaign for Westark. He convinced President Stubblefield of the potential to raise money. With approval of both the Board of Trustees and the Foundation directors, Stubblefield decided to risk failure and move forward on the Major Gifts Campaign. After the previous 14 years of Foundation operation, the Foundation’s investments totaled $85,000 in stocks plus some homes on North 50th Street (the stocks had survived only because they were given with a stipulation that they could not be sold). The homes were sold by the Foundation to the college for approximately $100,000, and that provided the funds to hire Clements as the Major Gifts Campaign manager.
Although Clements’ study had recommended proceeding with the campaign, the Westark boards were cautious when he made his presentation to them on July 14, 1988. This was a wholly new venture and something with which they had never dealt before. Their deliberations took well over an hour until finally they concluded that President Stubblefield should make the final decision. He said, “I don’t want to do this … I don’t have time to do this … but it is my responsibility.” And so the campaign went forward. The preliminary study had revealed that people would not support the funding of college buildings because they felt tax dollars ought to pay for those, but they would support Foundation efforts to develop scholarships and provide instructional equipment. It appeared from a survey that Westark might be able to raise $2.5 to $3 million over a five-year pledge period, but eventually a goal of $5 million was set. Stubblefield was reluctant to attempt a $5 million campaign. He wanted to aim for a lesser amount with the idea that the college would succeed, rather than fail. As he said: No one had given us anything except $5,000 or $10,000 before. I didn’t want to lose; I wanted to be perceived as winning, as reaching an achievable goal. When we ended up the first [Major] Gifts Campaign with $5.3 million in gifts and pledges, I was thrilled, but it was very hard work. Ray Clements was hired for nine months in 1988 to structure the campaign, develop strategies and organization, and build committees of 400 volunteers. No one was asked to “give what you can” to the college. Instead, the volunteers requested that prospective donors give a certain amount over a fiveyear period. To the surprise of those involved, almost everybody gave at the requested levels. As Foundation Board member Don Flanders said: My wife, Phala, and I decided that we wanted to make a significant gift in order to challenge other people to a higher level of giving than they might otherwise aspire. The Board of Trustees, the Foundation Board, the college family, and the community came together, pledged, and gave. President Stubblefield, Carolyn Moore, Sandi Sanders, Richard Hudson, and others gave numerous presentations on behalf of the Major Gifts
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Campaign. Meetings were arranged, volunteers organized, and invitations sent out. More than 400 community volunteers contributed their efforts, and the response was surprising. The campaign lasted nine months, and more than 600 donors gave $5.3 million in pledges and gifts. It was the largest successful community college campaign of its kind in the United States at the time, according to a Council for Aid to Education (CAE) report in 1990. After that, wherever he went in the United States, Ray Clements presented Westark as an example of what could be accomplished in terms of privatesector fundraising; community colleges from all over the country called Fort Smith to find out about the Westark success in raising Endowment funds. Similar enterprises were then developed in many two-year schools across the nation. Westark had moved ahead of all other institutions in Arkansas in terms of establishing a successful private-sector fundraising program and achieving success in so short a period of time. The market value of the Endowment rose to approximately $20 million. Other major gifts should be added to this figure, however, such as the $2.6 million Donald W. Reynolds Plaza, Tower, and Campus Green project, and funds already used for instructional equipment, library automation, and scholarships. In total about $40 million was given or pledged to Westark over a 10-year period, and several million dollars is pending in wills and trusts. The Foundation has increased the number of student scholarships from just 10 in 1988 to more than 200. Perhaps as important as the financial pledges was the political good will that came out of the first Major Gifts Campaign. The prestige of Westark was elevated, and this gave President Stubblefield political support for other college causes. During Bill Clinton’s term as governor, for example, Stubblefield would call on Rollie Boreham and R.L. Qualls of Baldor Company or Ross Pendergraft of the Donrey Media Group to tell them of college needs, and they would respond, “Well, let’s just get in the plane and go down there and see him [Clinton].” Westark gained friends which resulted in large gifts later such as the $3.1 million gift from Lester and Jane Furr in 1998.
The good will built up because of college successes in the 1980’s also translated into a favorable vote on the requested millage increase of 1990. This was the first and only successful millage increase since Westark had passed the initial millage in 1965. It marked the first time that Greenwood area residents ever supported a millage for the college, and passage brought in a substantial amount of money to the campus. Lester and Jane Furr
In recent years, the Foundation fundraising efforts have been led by a campus unit called Institutional Advancement, the purpose of which is to enhance public understanding and acceptance of Westark’s mission and programs and to produce funds for current operations, special projects, and capital growth. The advancement team included College Publications, Public Information, Development of Private Donors and Grants, and Communications and Marketing.
The University Center: Home to Upper-Level College Courses In 1989, the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 259 granting authority to establish a University Center on the Westark campus to provide Fort Smith residents with the opportunity to obtain junior-, senior-, and graduate-level education from state universities without leaving the area. The legislation required Westark to provide facilities for these classes on campus, and thus plans developed for a new college building. The creation of the University Center reads like a tangled web, involving a combination of political strategies, legal changes, and campus improvements. First, the University Center concept was proposed and approved by the legislature in 1989, but without funding. Simultaneously, a new Math-Science
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Math-Science/University Center. The creation of the University Center involved a combination of political strategies, legal changes, and campus improvements. After approval by the legislature in 1989, the University Center concept was joined to the new Math-Science Building proposal. When the millage election passed the proposal in 1990, the Math-Science Building was designated to eventually house the offices, and University Center programs began in 1991 in classrooms around campus before the new building was completed.
Building was proposed on campus. These two projects were joined together to effect the successful passage of the millage election of 1990, when the Math-Science Building was designated to house the University Center Offices. Finally, a limited amount of funding for University Center programs came in 1991. The University Center initiative was one of two major initiatives President Stubblefield directed Richard Hudson to draft legislation for in the 1989 legislative session. One initiative was to obtain major funding of $320,000 for the Business and Industrial Institute, to match a $320,000 gift from the Arkansas Business Council’s “Good Suit Club” (Sam Walton, et al.). The second was Stubblefield’s concept for the University Center. While Richard Hudson wrote the legislation which created the University Center in 1989, Stubblefield was instrumental in getting it passed. The day before Senator Travis Miles introduced the University Center bill, he, President Stubblefield, and Richard Hudson visited with Governor Bill Clinton to explain the various details of the proposal before presenting it to the legislature for approval. The governor immediately saw it as a cost-effective concept, and it passed both houses
without incident. At the last moment, however, Clinton inexplicably decided to veto the bill. When Stubblefield learned of a pending veto by the governor on the night before the session ended, he repeatedly called the governor’s secretary until Clinton returned his call from the mansion late that night. Clinton said, “Joel, I just came in the door and I’ve got Chelsea in my arms. What do you need? I’m tired, and it’s been a long day.” Stubblefield explained to the governor that the University Center bill would benefit the people in this area, and wouldn’t cost the state nearly as much per student as at a typical four-year university— about $1,500 per student instead of the normal $4,500. He also told Clinton that he could eliminate the funding for it if that was a constraint, saying, “I’ll get the universities to do it for no money.” Stubblefield pointed out that the University Center, if funded, would not change the legal status of Westark, would not cost other universities any money, and would deliver the instruction. The University Center would make four-year education available to students who were place-bound in Fort Smith and could not go elsewhere to live in a dorm because of job or family commitments. Universities would get the money, but the Westark Board would
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be permitted to select both the schools involved and the programs to be offered, based on the needs of area residents. He continued to list his points until Clinton weakened, and said, “Well, Joel I’ll approve it then.” As Stubblefield later noted: I guess he wanted to get me off the phone. I was pleased he had the willingness to listen and answer the phone at home. I never had difficulty in getting an audience with him. He was always a good listener and a quick study. In addition to everything else he had told the governor, Stubblefield also mentioned that this was a popular local project in Fort Smith and that if Clinton did not approve it, Stubblefield would have to give him credit for its failure. The area was full of Republican voters, and Clinton had never carried Sebastian County. Clinton once had made a promise that if he ever carried Sebastian County in an election, he would dance down the streets of Fort Smith. That year Clinton won re-election as governor of Arkansas and carried Sebastian County for the first time. Several weeks after the election, he kept his promise and, in pouring rain, he and Hillary danced at 6th and Garrison to the music of the Westark Jazz Band. A large dance circle formed in front of the First National Bank, made up of Chamber of Commerce officials, Westark people, and joyous onlookers. Clinton sat in with the Westark Jazz Band, playing George Gershwin’s “Summertime” on Don Bailey’s saxophone. Stubblefield always wanted to tell Clinton that one of the reasons he won the county was that he had supported the University Center bill.
Governor Bill Clinton (top photo) in 1989 with Don Bailey and Henry Rinne, after sitting in with the Westark Jazz Band. Earlier that day, Bill and Hillary Clinton had danced down the streets of Fort Smith. (Lower photo) President Bill Clinton and former Westark vice president for planning and government relations Richard Hudson visit in the Oval Office in 1996. As governor, Clinton worked with President Stubblefield and Hudson in creating the University Center at Westark.
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1990 The millage election passes. The first University Center classes are held. 1991 Student enrollment exceeds 5,000. 1992 LexisNexis® is placed online in the library. The Math-Science/University Center is completed. 1993 The Flanders Business Center upgrade is completed. Westark joins ARKnet and Internet access is available. 1994 The Scholar-Preceptor Program is initiated. 1995 Westark receives another 10-year reaccreditation from the North Central Association. The Donald W. Reynolds Plaza, Tower, and Campus Green are completed. The Breedlove Building undergoes renovation. Westark wins the national women’s basketball championship. 1997 The Business and Industrial Institute addition to Flanders Business Center is completed, and state and local funding is approved for an advanced technology center. The Westark website goes online. Arkansas Act 971 passes, and Westark receives “unique college” status with the authority to offer bachelor’s degrees and become a hybrid college. 1998 Westark Community College becomes Westark College. A new college logo is designed, and new corner markers are installed around the campus. Parking lots are added on the east and west sides of campus. An administrative reorganization is undertaken. Enrollment approaches 6,000.
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The Millage Election of 1990: A Turning Point in Westark History In 1990 the millage election to allocate a percentage of property tax money for Westark had been presented to voters for approval, and it passed by a 60-plus percent margin. Ray Clements had advised waiting to put it on the ballot until the following fall and the general election, but Stubblefield decided to push ahead in spring 1990. Voters were told that if the millage tax did not pass, there would probably be no bachelor’s degree university programs because there would be no space for them. The University Center was a desirable concept to voters because it promised upper-level and bachelor’s degrees programs to Fort Smith citizens for the first time. Before committing Westark to the project, Stubblefield met with Ross Pendergraft of the Donrey Media Group and Bob Nunley, publisher, and Jack Moseley, editor, of the Southwest Times Record (SWTR) newspaper. Stubblefield said, “We know we can’t do this without your support. The future of the college is in your hands.” The newspaper was very cooperative in the venture. It regularly published a list of Westark facts and ran a box on the front page of the paper each day, discussing issues and answering questions from citizens editorially for 30 days prior to the election. This compares favorably to the situation of the 1970s when the millage increase was defeated. As Richard Hudson noted, “The paper was not against Westark in ’73, but they certainly didn’t help.” This time the college paid for a special newspaper section just before the election with charts, graphs, and pictures describing what a successful passage of the millage would mean for the area. The SWTR included a section with questions the public wanted
answered, and Westark maintained a telephone hot line so that answers could be provided immediately for publication. The SWTR deserves a significant part of the credit for passage of the 1990 millage increase. In order to explain the costs to local voters, President Stubblefield, Richard Hudson, Moore, instructor Frances Bedell, and Margaret Moseley, wife of newspaper editor Jack Moseley, held marketing strategy sessions in the Vines Building. They developed a four-page accountability report and compared the millage increase to the cost of visiting a McDonalds® restaurant once a month—or the cost of a hamburger, fries and soda. In one media presentation, a hamburger, fries, and soda sat on a tray while the costs of the 5.25 millage were explained for an average homeowner. An average house in Fort Smith valued at $50,000 would incur a tax increase of approximately $2 per month. Bedell, Hudson, Stubblefield, Margaret Moseley, Sondra LaMar, and the staff of the Public Information Office worked tirelessly on campaign materials developing a case for support. Speeches were given in homes, at civic clubs, and in local restaurants such as Catfish Cove. Westark officials went on radio and television with an intensive campaign that lasted four weeks. The committee had formulated a slide show about what the college did for the community, how their dollars were spent, and what would be done with the new dollars. Everyone at Westark supported the effort: faculty, staff, administration, even the maintenance workers. The implications of the millage passage were enormous. It paid off more than any other single event over the years of Joel Stubblefield’s presidency. The college went from an average of $400,000–500,000 a year in millage income during 1980–81, to $4.7 million by 1998. A $50 million endowment would be required to generate the continuous income that the millage provided to the college each year thereafter. This income bought labs, instructional equipment, and computers. It also built and remodeled old college buildings.
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Millage Election Certification. With the passage of the millage in 1990, the college went from an average of $400,000â€“500,000 a year in millage income (1980) to $4.7 million (1998). A $50 million endowment would be required to generate the continuous income that the millage provided to the college each year after its passage.
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After the millage passed, people asked, “Where are you going to put the University Center?” Of course, the University Center was a concept as much as a place; courses are taught wherever they need to be taught. Westark officials wanted to give some public presence to the University Center, however, so the administrative offices were placed in the MathScience Building instead of Vines, as visible proof to the citizens of how their money was being spent. The building was then officially named the MathScience/University Center. Although the University Center was created in 1989, there was no funding of personnel to run it. The following year Stubblefield, Hudson, and several local business people including Ross Pendergraft, Bob Nunley, Jim Hanna, and others met with Governor Clinton to discuss funding. They forgot to leave a written summary with him, and Clinton mistakenly understood that Westark wanted $300,000 for the biennium, exactly half of what was needed. After reviewing an audio tape of the conversation, Hudson realized that the discussion with Clinton was indeed vague. Westark officials then had to struggle to get the state to agree to amend the bill to $300,000 for each year so that the University Center could begin operations. Clinton came up with an idea to use general improvement funds (which are normally one-year funds) as an emergency funding measure for the first year. The second year Governor Clinton gave $50,000 from his emergency fund. Thereafter, the Center received $400,000 funding for the University Center each year. One fourth went to operations at Westark, and the remaining portion went to the participating universities.
Growth of the University Center With the legislation passed, Stubblefield selected Sandi Sanders, then director of community service and continuing education, to become director of the University Center. She was the ideal choice because of both her administrative skills and her proven ability to develop student enrollment. Sanders conducted surveys of program needs, visited major Arkansas universities, and met with presidents, chancellors, and vice presidents to talk about plans for the Center. The officials were warm and friendly, but did not commit to anything. She later learned
Dr. Sandi Sanders came to the institution as director of community service and continuing education in 1979. She became the first director of university center operations in 1989 and vice president for student services and university center operations in 1990. Sanders was named provost and chief operating officer in 1998. While serving as senior vice chancellor and chief of staff in 2005, she was named Interim Chancellor of the University. She is credited with many behind-the-scenes achievements including the development of noncredit enrollment to over 14,000 students, the development of an operational model for a university center, negotiation of contracts with universities to offer four-year programs on campus, and coordination and supervision of many programs and national accreditations. Working with the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce, she was instrumental in developing Leadership Fort Smith.
that they had all agreed that this plan was not going to work and that none of them would participate. However, they wanted to hedge their bets and behind the scenes told President Stubblefield, “Don’t leave us out; we want to be a part of this.” They did not want Westark’s getting involved in upper-level course instruction, but nor did they wish to be left out. Westark selected elementary education as the first program in the University Center, not because it was the most requested (business and accounting were), but because it did not require as many labs and as much equipment to get started. Several universities submitted proposals: the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), Arkansas Tech University (ATU), and the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. The University of Arkansas wanted to double tuition, and that made it easy to narrow the list. After investigating the quality of the graduates from the two remaining programs, and learning that the schools would be willing to conduct the program on Westark’s terms ATU was selected. The fact that ATU was willing to run the program the first year without any funding appealed to Westark administrators.
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Westark stipulated that a full-time university representative and office be maintained on campus. New faculty were to be hired from the Fort Smith area, since Westark did not want faculty and staff driving back and forth to their home institutions. In addition, Westark and ATU agreed to work together on publicity, selection of faculty, and curriculum design. There were many political concerns when Arkansas State University (ASU) was selected to offer a business degree program the second year. It took much discussion and weighing of information to determine what would best serve students and the longterm interests of Westark. Westark officials had originally wanted to begin that program with the University of Arkansas. Indeed, the University of Arkansas had submitted a proposal for a business degree, but its proposal came well after the application deadline and the university asked for a total of $400,000 per year to participate. The University of Arkansas also wanted to employ five faculty members who would live in Fayetteville, each of whom would teach one course. The costs of this plan far outweighed the benefits, and Westark declined the offer. Westark officials wanted the best of all possible worlds, however, and later asked the University of Arkansas to bring its existing MBA and several master’s in education programs under the umbrella of the University Center. Rather than have a parttime clerical person for the programs, which were already operating in the Fort Smith area, Westark agreed to pay half the coordinator’s salary in order to employ a full-time person as both clerk and coordinator. The University of Arkansas agreed, and H.B. Fink became the first full-time site coordinator for the University of Arkansas in 1991. Genette Howard followed in 1995, and Patrick Pendleton assumed the role of site coordinator when Howard departed. The first program had about 50 students, and the following year, ASU offered a business program with an enrollment of approximately 60 students; later, accounting was added. ATU added an Information Technology program, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) agreed to offer a bachelor’s degree program in liberal arts, and UCA began a master’s degree in nursing. The program was successful because of its flexibility: a Westark student could simultaneously enroll in the UALR liberal arts program and also take any business courses (through ASU) required in liberal
arts. It was possible to be enrolled in three institutions at the same time to complete one degree. The University Center enrollment grew to over 700 students per semester in just a few years.
Math-Science/ University Center Math and science programs have always been the largest divisions of the college in terms of student semester credit hour production. Funds for equipment were generally adequate in the science area, but the Science Building (now Flanders Business Center) had become so crowded that expansion was a necessity. There were three or four people assigned to each office, and the building housed science, nursing, and social science classes as well. Scheduling of classes became difficult as the years went on because of limited space in just five labs. After one classroom was converted to a lab, things improved slightly, but lecture capacities were diminished in the process. Despite these limitations, important work was accomplished in the Science Building. Tom Buchanan received a number of grants from the state and federal government to conduct biological studies on the aquatic life in Arkansas. Fishes of Arkansas, a collaborative book with Henry Robison, was published by the University of Arkansas Press in 1988 and received impressive reviews from national journals and science magazines. It inspired similar research in other states. Interestingly, Buchanan and Robison wrote this 600-page book during the 1980s without the aid of a computer, illustrating that the computer revolution did not occur as quickly as some might imagine. As Buchanan said: I would write a section, then type it, and send it to Henry Robison, and he would cut and paste his comments, retype it and send it back to me. I would then review the sections that he had written, and provide my own additions. In 1989 Michael Hightower, the Science, Math, and Engineering Division chair, presented a proposal to upgrade the existing Science Building and also to build a museum for the Natural History collection. At the time, Hightower was not aware that a new campus master plan had been formulated. He was surprised when President Stubblefield proposed
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construction of a new MathScience Building that would also house the University Center. The architectural firm of Mott, Mobley, McGowan & Griffin was hired to design the new building. In consultation with the faculty and classified staff, Hightower produced a detailed narrative plan for the building that included the general layout, room size, and guidelines appropriate to the science and math curricula. This was no small achievement since the MathScience/University Center, with 82,000 square feet, became the largest building on campus. Hightower’s plan was based on 25 years of experience with the old Science Building and also on his assumption that enrollment would double in 20 years.
distinguished service to the college would have justified the symbolism, the floor plan’s shape resembling Michael Hightower’s last initial was purely coincidental.
Construction of the MathScience/University Center was supposed to be finished by the first or second week of August 1992 for fall classes, but ran slightly late. Temporary help had to be hired at the last minute to open numerous boxes of tables, chairs, benches, and other furniture to meet the scheduled classes. Instructors were also rushed to get their Fishes of Arkansas, by Henry W. own equipment ready for classRobison and Thomas M. Buchanan, is a nationally recognized text published es. As is the case with all new by The University of Arkansas Press. buildings, once it was occupied, space was quickly used up as growth continued in the science, math, engineering, and University Center Sandi Sanders, at that time director of university programs. center operations (as well as vice president for student services), contributed plans for the University Important new pieces of equipment came to the Center portion of the building. The Math-Science/ building after it was completed. Macsteel, for examUniversity Center was state-of-the-art for the time, ple, donated the first scanning electron microscope with the latest equipment available in electronic to the college in 1997. Instructor Rod Nelson had technology. Some features were part of the original done doctoral work using the device, and he gave plan, and others were amended as work progressed instructions to others on its use. Specimens had to because technologies literally changed during the 18 go through a very involved procedure to be premonths of its construction. Theater-style lighting pared for viewing under the machine, and its control systems, telephone and Internet connections, and panel resembled that of a spacecraft. power screens were installed in classrooms. The Along with construction of the Math-Science/ campus fiber-optic network was being installed in University Center, a variety of renovation projects 1990, and the original plan had to be modified with ensued with the receipt of a national grant for the plug-in ports on instructor benches so that video Business and Industrial Institute and matching signals could be transmitted to television monitors. funds for the Flanders Business Center through the Certain additional technologies, such as video kindness of Don Flanders. In addition, local corpomicroscopes and video projector systems, suddenly rations and many other Westark Foundation donors becoming widespread were added to the original provided scholarships and equipment for the plan. college. Some faculty jokingly observed that the floor plan of the Math-Science/University Center formed the letter H, suggesting that Michael Hightower had imprinted his own initial upon it. Two things contributed to the configuration: the architect produced an early floor plan with two large buildings joined by a hallway, and instructors wanted offices with windows that required widening of the floor plan at the crossbar of the letter H. Although his 30 years of
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Growth of the Business and Industrial Institute In 1988, President Stubblefield increased the visibility of the Business and Industrial Institute by separating it from Community Services and Continuing Education, expanding its staff, and giving it the Business and Industrial Institute name. Prospective clients were told that Westark would provide educational training for workers, when and where employers needed it. The employers were to list competencies they wanted Westark to deliver, approve the curriculum and instructor in advance of instruction, and receive a money-back guarantee if they were not satisfied with the results. This was a remarkable offer in an era when other institutions of higher learning were being attacked for the low quality of their products. Stubblefieldâ€™s ideas were based on practical experience. He had noted that students often graduated with abstract knowledge, but without critical thinking abilities and practical problem-solving experience. Technology was changing so rapidly that workers who were hired years before were no longer Business and Industrial Institute. Separated from Community Services and Continuing EduÂcation in 1988, the Business and Industrial Institute established programs specifically designed around competency-based education.
able to handle jobs in the 1990s; a strong back or manual dexterity did not mean as much as being able to correct a computer program or repair logic controls. Business had reached a point where products came off an assembly line and were packaged, loaded onto pallets or skids, and moved by robotic trucks to a railroad where they were loaded into boxcars without human interaction of any kind. Such equipment requires a higher order of skills to program, maintain, and repair. The people who work in such environments for the first time must meet certain minimum competencies in terms of their skills and knowledge. The Business and Industrial Institute addressed these needs by establishing programs specifically designed around competency-based education. By so doing, the college gained friends in business and industry who helped it accomplish other institutional goals. They gave their support to obtain operating funds for the regular credit programs and added to the growing network of friends that contributed to the Foundation. In the 1990s, the Business and Industrial Institute served 225 businesses in 43 locations in Arkansas and provided training to over 60,000 employees.
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Computers, the Campus Network, and the Internet By 1987 Westark campus hardware and software had outlived their usefulness. The computer system had been installed in 1983 and the CAST operating system installed just a few years prior to that. At a retirement party for John Collins in 1987, President Stubblefield approached Ray Sparks about the future computer needs of the college. As Sparks said: With his military background, Stubblefield was accustomed to receiving data quickly, and he felt Westark should be obtaining information in a more timely manner so as to improve management of the college. He wanted to know what computing would be like in 10 years and what would be needed for the next century. Stubblefield and Sparks met again, and as a result of their discussions a committee was formed to develop plans for renewal of the computer system. It consisted of Richard Hudson, Bob Wiley, Ray Sparks, and Bill Walker. Walker was released from his teaching duties to supervise what became known as the Management Information Systems (MIS) project. Stubblefield, the cabinet (administrators, not including the deans), and the MIS committee went on a retreat to Fayetteville in fall 1987 to develop goals and objectives for the college. The committee wrote a document outlining Westark’s needs, and this document was sent out to vendors. The committee wanted a single firm to provide all necessary equipment and programs to Westark and asked contractors to submit a plan after they had entered into agreements with their subcontractors. Once the plans were complete, companies made presentations. Fortunately, the millage campaign had successfully passed, because Westark had no money to pay for this project when planning began. Plans called for a campus-wide fiber optic network, a full-function integrated college administration software system, and a library automation system all running on one network. IBM®, Digital Equipment Corporation, and several other companies held
presentations in Gardner Lecture Hall, open to faculty and administrators. The goal was to buy two new computer systems (the Banner System and the VTLS library automation system), purchase personal computers to replace all computer terminals scattered about campus, and put microcomputers on administrative desks. Eventually, IBM® won the contract, and Westark upgraded its facilities. During the planning of the new system, the University of Arkansas wrote a grant proposal to establish an education network in the state of Arkansas called ARKnet. ARKnet is the vehicle on which the Internet rides. Funded initially through a grant for $350,000 from the National Science Foundation, 18 participating institutions formed a consortium to gain Internet access in 1990–91. Westark gave $12,000 to become a charter member. For many of the nonparticipating colleges, it was difficult to see how Internet access could be used by anyone except research universities. “What would a community college do with Internet capabilities?” they asked. Westark was the only community college in Arkansas to obtain full charter membership in the consortium. President Stubblefield wanted to help faculty in their work and asked what it would cost to give every faculty member a computer and network connection. Although Westark had installed the campus fiber-optic network, connections and cables had not been run to faculty offices. Ray Sparks initially wanted to ask faculty members what they would do with their computers before installing them, but Stubblefield said, “I want them to have it, no questions asked. If they want a computer, I want to put it on their desk.” The installation of faculty computers began in early 1994, and soon the entire institution was connected to the Internet. Faculty members accepted the new tools readily, and Sparks was often amused when, at technology meetings, he heard administrators from other institutions say, “We tried to roll out faculty computers, but it’s been a dismal failure; they won’t use them.” Westark never had the problem because everyone received full support, and those who asked for training received it. Since that time, the number of personal computers on the campus has exploded. Students now have access to campus computers as well. There is an open policy as far as student use is concerned, and student email has become increasingly popular along with ready access to the Internet.
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The Donald W. Reynolds Plaza, Tower, and Campus Green In 1991, Carolyn Moore arranged for lunch in the new Math-Science/University Center building with Fred W. Smith (a former Westark student from the 1950s and then CEO of the Donrey Media Group and chairman of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation), Ross W. Pendergraft (first vice president of Donrey and the Reynolds Foundation), E.H. “Pat” Patterson (second vice president of Donrey and the Reynolds Foundation), Joel Stubblefield, and Westark Foundation board members Doug Smith and Carl D. Corley. Stubblefield talked to the group about Westark’s goals, dreams, and aspirations for the next 25 years. He showed them the college master plan prepared by Edaw and Associates of Atlanta for the college administration in 1990. After lunch and a tour of the building, Smith asked Stubblefield what he would do with a $1 million gift if it were offered to the school. Stubblefield again showed him the master plan with its drawings of a new student union, plans for renovations of the old Science Building, and several other projects. He explained how the school had developed around 10 acres at the northeast corner of the campus, across 10 acres to the northwest, and then across 10 acres to the southeast.
Donald W. Reynolds. A media giant, Reynolds founded the Donrey Media Group in 1940, and at the time of his death, the organization had grown to include a large number of daily and non-daily newspapers, outdoor advertising companies, and television companies. The Donald W. Reynolds Plaza, Tower, and Campus Green were made possible by a gift from the Foundation named for him.
Fred W. Smith, former President and CEO of the Donrey Media Group and an alumnus of Westark, and now chairman of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. At a luncheon one day, Smith asked President Joel Stubblefield what he would do with a $1 million gift if it were offered to the school. Stubblefield showed him the college’s master plan, which included a campus green with a fountain, tower, and reflecting pool. Smith accepted the idea of a quadrangle that would give order and collegiate appearance to the campus.
Since there was no record of a master plan over the life of the college, Westark had no two buildings facing in the same direction. Included in the 25-year Edaw plan was a campus green with fountain, tower, and reflecting pool that was intended to serve as a focal point around which to organize the campus in traditional quadrangle style. The idea was to make the campus look like a college, rather than merely parking lots and buildings. Stubblefield said: That’s a dream, but it’s something I can’t spend tax dollars for. I don’t think the taxpayers would want us to spend their money to buy a tower, water fountains, or European-style gardens, but we do need to tie the campus together.
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Smith was immediately attracted to the idea of a campus green and asked the college to present a proposal. Because no one knew how much such a project would cost (it was not ordinary building space), officials scrambled to put together a proposal with a design. The final cost of the project went well beyond the original gift offer, and the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation kindly and generously gave a total of $2.6 million. Donald W. Reynolds Foundation officials requested that the firm of McGowan, Anderson, Hunter and Griffin be employed for the project, and Galen Hunter was appointed head architect. Even though the essential outlines of the campus green were given in the master plan, many changes had to be made. In the original plan the tower stood at the center of what is now Lion Pride Square, and a fountain was located where the bell tower now stands. The tower was proposed to be half its current height (about 58 feet), set at the same height as the Math-Science/University Center (then the tallest point on campus). While the tower was a starting point for the design, the campus green itself was also an organizing device. The design of the campus green derived from several university campuses including Duke University, Brown University, and the University of Virginia. The circular drive came from the Duke design, and Brown Universityâ€”where the gates are traditionally opened once a year for graduationâ€”
Ross W. Pendergraft was executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Donrey Media Group and a 31-year trustee of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. The 84,000-square-foot facility that serves as the campus center was named for Fred W. Smith and Ross Pendergraft in honor of their great generosity toward and sponsorship of the building and of UAFS.
provided the campus gate inspiration. The gates were intentionally designed with classical detail (traditional face, body, cap, and scrolls) to give a sense of prestige, history, and tradition. The campus green was inspired by the quadrangle of the Jeffersonian University of Virginia. As architect Hunter observed: After the buildings surrounding it are completed, giving it closure, people will start to recognize that it is a true quadrangle. For the first time, Westark would have east-west sidewalks across the campus, north-south corridors and sidewalks, and a place for outdoor concerts. Westark students would no longer have to dodge between cars in the parking lots to go from the west side of the campus to the library.
The Reynolds Tower rises 108 feet 10 inches above the Plaza. The bell chamber is the showcase feature of the tower; it forms the basic architectural measurement from which all other proportions of the tower are derived, including the height. The idea for the round dome came from President Stubblefield.
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Tree masses, bushes, and shrubbery were brought in from around the country to provide different colors as the seasons changed. The main trees are willow oaks, those behind the bell tower are autumn red maples, and those around the fountain and entry gate are spring snow crab apples. The parterre, or gardens, are enclosed in boxwood bushes and filled with various flowers. Fountains at the foot of the tower are used for both decorative purposes and sound enhancement. The sound of falling water is very restful to the ears and creates a special ambience for visitors who walk by. Architects were encouraged by State Building Services officials to do away with the fountains in early stages of the design because they are prone to suffer mechanical problems. So Hunter’s firm designed the fountains to be used as planters if it ever becomes necessary to shut them down. The tower was located at the head of the campus green so that it could be approached and exited in a ceremonial way. Hence, the main walkway and two side walkways are used for graduation and other special events such as exhibitions and crafts fairs. Standing 108 feet 10 inches tall, it is the largest freestanding belfry in the South Central United States and houses the largest installation of cast bronze bells on a college campus between Texas A&M University and the University of Nebraska. Credit for the semicircular tower dome goes to President Stubblefield, who felt that a round dome was a traditional device that would be appropriate for the campus. He rejected early designs of the tower top which were pyramidal in shape. The semicircular top created a major architectural problem, however, because the architects had to find a way to transition from the square tower to a round dome. Their solution involved moving from a square base to octagonal clock faces and finishing with a round dome. Parapets added to the four corners completed the transition. Coin designs were inscribed on the precast concrete, and three-foot spheres were added to further mitigate the difference between the square and circle. Since the bell chamber was the showcase of the tower, it formed the basic architectural measurement from which all other proportions were derived. The architects settled upon the height of 108 feet 10 inches as a result of the bell chamber, which is 24-feet square on the inside. The bell chamber footage was the determining factor of the tower height, despite the fact that Stubblefield and, especially, Richard Hudson wanted the tower to rise up tall
enough to impress everyone, possibly even as far away as Interstate 540. The idea of placing a carillon in the tower came up during discussions about the dome. President Stubblefield had worked in various European cities and appreciated the unique, timeless appeal of bell towers of Germany and England. When a carillon was suggested, he quickly accepted the idea because Westark would become the only community college in the country with a carillon of this type, and it would forever become a landmark for the college. Carolyn Moore contacted the van Bergen Company of South Carolina, which presented a plan for a 42 bronze bell carillon of 3½ octaves. Varying in weight from 29 to 1,418 pounds, the bells were cast at the prestigious Paccard-Fonderie de Cloches in Annecyle-Vieux, France, and shipped via the port of Antwerp, Belgium, to the United States. They were placed on display in Fullerton Student Union before being hoisted up into the tower during summer 1993. Several of the largest bells have the name of a Westark president or benefactor of the college. The largest is inscribed with the name and a remembrance about Donald W. Reynolds: “He did it his way,” followed in size by bells for Fred Smith, Ross Pendergraft, Pat Patterson, Joel Stubblefield, and former college presidents. To highlight the bells’ natural beauty, the architects created four large display windows for them. Three large swinging (pealing) bells were installed on the north and south sides of the tower and were intended to be heard up to a mile away. The swinging bell peal sounded officially for the first time when the Donald W. Reynolds Plaza, Tower, and Campus Green was dedicated Sept. 22, 1995. The beautiful sounds of the Westark carillon reflect the dreams and aspirations of students who hear them while walking to and from class or studying around the campus. The completed Campus Green with its Tower and Carillon was probably the most significant physical change to occur on campus; it vies with the millage campaign for long-term impact on Westark. People immediately realized what an important landmark this was for the community, and it created a new sense of spirit on the campus. It helped the college in other unexpected ways too. President Stubblefield observed that the Campus Green helped in recruiting students, hiring quality faculty, and improving productivity. As he said, “When people can take pride in and feel good about the place where they work, they work better.”
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Once the Campus Green was completed in September 1995, Stacey Jones initiated Season on the Green concerts which have included artists such as Barbara Mandrell, Pete Fountain, The Capitol Steps, Maynard Ferguson, and the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Fort Smith Symphony pops concerts have been held there as well as two political rallies. Back-toschool bashes took place in the afternoons and evenings, along with various department-sponsored events such as the Festival de Abril, under the direction of Nancy Zechiedrich, and a Festival of Arts, under the 8,000 direction of Carolyn Holdsworth. 7,500 Carillon performances are given between classes five days each week, 7,000 with solo concerts presented each 6,500 Sunday afternoon by head carillon- 6,000 neur Stephen Husarik, and carillonneurs Cheryl Denton (Peters), Susan 5,500 Ertel, William Murray, Dawayne Stamper, Rebecca Timmons, and Rosilee Walker. The Donald W. Reynolds Tower information page was one of the first items to appear on the Westark website which was established in September 1997.
Unique College Status Along with President Stubblefield, Jim Hurst and Mary Beth Sudduth drafted the legislation that enabled Westark to become a “unique community college” in the state of Arkansas. Sponsored by Representative Ed Thicksten of Alma in the House of Representatives and Senator Morril Harriman of Van Buren in the Senate, an act “to establish Westark Community College as a unique community college” was passed in the regular session of the Arkansas General Assembly in 1997. Unlike other two-year and four-year institutions, Westark was able to pick and choose programs needed for the community and the seven-county region it serves. Westark could then offer both associate degrees and a limited number of bachelor’s degrees based on new premises outlined in Act 971 of 1997: The primary purpose of the General Assembly … is to allow Westark to serve as the state’s model for a “new college” which includes a curriculum which
7,587 6,731 2002 6,154 2002
shortens the learning cycle for a baccalaureate degree from the national average of more than five (5) years to three (3) years and which reexamines and realigns instructional systems, schedules, and processes in order to meet the needs of an information and technology-driven era. Data had indicated that the average American college student in the late 1990s spent 5½ years obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Westark proposed to shorten that time to four years or less. Attending school on a 12-month rather than traditional nine-month basis, for example, might enable some students to move through a bachelor’s program in three years. Degrees would be designed to suit the needs of area industry and business and to be less wasteful of tuition dollars and time. What made the plan unique was that industry requested the student competencies it wanted from the college, rather than the college’s dictating which competencies students should have. In developing this new educational model, Westark administrators approached industry to determine which competencies were actually expected from students on the job. Certification of graduates would be measured not by courses taken, not by seat time or grade-point average, but by competency-based standards established by the industrial clients. About 40 industries have helped establish the competencies to be mastered in the first bachelor’s degree
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program: manufacturing technology. Focusing upon knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes required to practice in the field, roughly 80 sets of competencies were identified as essential. The curriculum is designed around achieving and demonstrating these competencies. The program concludes with a trial run in which students have to apply everything they learned in a new and different setting, judged by industry experts. After the bachelor’s degree in manufacturing technology was initiated and established, others were considered since the college offered bachelor’s and master’s degrees through Arkansas State University, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the University of Central Arkansas, the University of Arkansas, and Arkansas Tech University. Now the time had come for a name change at Westark. In February 1998, the Board of Trustees approved the designation “Westark College,” and a new logo was designed incorporating the Reynolds Tower clock and dome as a motif.
Westark in 1998 One way to quantify the success and growth of the college is by numbers. In 1928, the charter class of Fort Smith Junior College consisted of 34 students. In 1958 the total came to 729 students. In a meeting that year, A. Curtis Goldtrap Sr., a Board of Trustees member, reminded the college that a survey by Engelhardt, Leggett and Cornell, education consultants employed by the State of Arkansas, had specified that Fort Smith Junior College should have 1,500 to 1,700 students by the year 1970. The actual enrollment at Westark in 1970 was 1,542. An influx of veterans and international students swelled the figure to over 3,000 in the 1970s. In the late 1980s, while other academic institutions experi-
enced a slump in enrollment, Westark enjoyed an increase to over 4,000 students which, as President Stubblefield said, “was due perhaps to the efforts of the college rather than to the demographics of population.” Arkansas had four junior colleges and 15 four-year colleges in 1958. In 1998, Arkansas counted 33 public institutions of higher learning attended by over 100,000 students. Westark College ranked fifth among these colleges in student enrollment with nearly 6,000 students. Westark has 40 buildings and has grown from its initial acreage of 40 to over 100. The annual operating budget for the institution in 1998 was $28,023,856, and the endowment stood at approximately $17 million. Steve Lease, then director of the Business and Industrial Institute, took on a new title of dean of workforce development and traveled about Arkansas, visiting 23 collegiate institutions in 1997. He learned that Westark was considered the flagship institution among comparable colleges in the state, an opinion based on the quality of education provided by the college and its accreditation achievements. Sister community colleges admired the partnerships that Westark cultivated in business and industry, professional associations, and volunteer groups in the community. They envied the Westark Foundation’s success and its gifts and scholarship programs. Among the many college officials Lease contacted, President Glen Fenter of Mid-South Community College in West Memphis in particular saw Westark as a visionary institution, dauntless in its attempts to improve the existing model of higher education. The voices of those alumni, faculty and administrators interviewed in this oral history, as well as thousands of students whose lives were touched by Westark College, clearly echoed this confidence and optimism about our institution as we entered the next millennium. The future looked bright for Westark College.
PAR T I V: W ES TAR K COL L EGE AT H L ET I C S, 1928– 2006
WESTARK COLLEGE ATHLETICS, 1928–2006
On Saturday night March 21, 1981, the Westark Community College Lions took to the hardwood of the Hutchinson, Kan, arena in the final leg of their quest for a national championship. Two hours later, the Lions, 67–50 victors over their opponents from Lincoln Community College (Illinois) were cutting down the nets, signifying their school’s most memorable moment to that point in its athletic history. Head coach Gayle Kaundart and his longtime assistant Jim Wyatt joined the players, which included the tournament’s most valuable team member, DeWayne Shepard, in the celebration that capped a 33–5 season.
developed that went down to the wire and proved the pluck of the Lady Lions. When the buzzer ended the game, the Westark team had defeated the defending champion, Trinity Valley Community College, 82–75 for the title. That final victory gave the Lady Lions the national championship trophy and an undefeated 35–0 season.
Basketball teams, both men’s and women’s, have been a part of the extracurricular activities generating excitement and events for students since Fort Smith Junior College opened in 1928. In the first years, students formed not only men’s and Basketball teams of 1939. Battling Lion players women’s basketball teams, but swarmed this unidentified soccer, tennis, golf, and softball opponent in a game played Fourteen years later, the women’s basketball in the high school gym. teams as well. These squads, team coached by Louis Whorton and which found their coaches Suzanne Clark would add another national among the volunteer ranks from championship for Westark athletic teams. In the the high school staff and from the community, finals of the 1995 women’s national tournament, competed against local opponents on almost a before several hundred Westark fans who had travschoolyard level. eled to Tyler, Texas, for the event, an exciting contest
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In 1930 the college introduced a football team, and some scholarships were awarded to graduates of area high schools who displayed talent on the gridiron. Lion players traveled by car, and sometimes by hitchhiking, to play football games in Morrilton, Wilburton, and a half-dozen other towns over three seasons before the sport was discontinued by the college in 1933. John R. Thompson, a Fort Senior High coach and physics teacher, accepted the responsibility of putting together an intercollegiate schedule for the Junior College basketball team, and he coached the men’s basketball team through the 1937 season. A women’s team played high school opponents as well as independent women’s teams from around Fort Smith. Frank Jones succeeded Thompson as basketball coach. As enrollment dropped during the World War II years, basketball was discontinued. Jones restarted men’s basketball in the post-war period when the Junior College still met in classes beneath the high school stadium.
Student-Athletes. The 1964 Fort Smith Junior College Lions basketball team took semiformal pains to demonstrate their student life beyond the hardwoods.
When Fort Smith Junior College moved to its present location in 1952, the men’s basketball program came under the guidance of community volunteers such as Bruce Bevens and Ted Skokos, who donated their time and talent to coaching Junior College players and scheduling independents, AAU teams, and other colleges to play against their teams. With the college’s loss of high school facilities, the Fort Smith Boys Club agreed to let the squad use its gymnasium located at 215 Wheeler Avenue. Dean Tom Fullerton, who coached the Lions for one season, recruited James T. Charles to head the basketball program at Fort Smith Junior College. Charles would thus become the first full-time paid coach in the school’s history. Charles raised funds for scholarships, attracted good players from area high schools, and fielded well-coached, competitive basketball teams. In 1958, Charles and President Vines met with coaches and presidents of four junior colleges and founded the Bi-State Conference, which is recog-
PAR T I V: W ES TAR K COL L EGE AT H L ET I C S, 1928– 2006
nized today as one of the nation’s premier junior college athletic conferences. FSJC was a charter member of the conference. Sayre Junior College in Oklahoma hosted the first Bi-State Conference tournament, which was won by the Fort Smith Junior College Lions. When James Charles left his position at Fort Smith Junior College to take on the challenge of a Boys Club start-up in McAlester, Okla. Tom Fullerton drove to Fayetteville to offer the basketball coaching job to Shelby Breedlove. Norma Jean Breedlove, Shelby’s widow, recalled:
College as men’s basketball coach. Crowder, a College of the Ozarks graduate, had coached at Ozark and Springdale before accepting the job at FSJC. Crowder, who retired in spring 1998, coached the men’s basketball team from 1965 to 1968 and the baseball team from 1965 until 1998. In that era, his Lions diamond men pitched, hit, and ran to 1,000 victories, adding immense sparkle to the college’s sports history.
One morning the phone rang at 7 o’clock, and Dean Fullerton asked Shelby if he would come Crowder stated in his down to the Mountain Inn Hotel memoir published in to have a cup of coffee. Of course, 1992 that he is most proud Shelby was thrilled to death, and of his hundreds of former so he went down and visited with players who became proShelby Breedlove, shown here as a Lions Dean Fullerton. He came home ductive, honorable citiplayer, came to Fort Smith Junior College that night and said, “They want zens of their communiin 1949 upon graduating from Booneville High School. Breedlove returned to the me to come to Fort Smith Junior ties. In 1995, President campus in 1960 as coach of the Lions. College.” He came down to Joel Stubblefield recogHe served as president of the college from interview, but Dr. Vines could nized the contributions of 1965 until his death in 1974. not give him a contract. They Crowder by dedicating didn’t have the money. Vines said, the new college baseball “I’ll pay you as long as we have facility on campus to the the money.” Shelby was concerned, since he had a longtime coach, naming it Crowder Field. On April family to support, about taking a job that shaky. 6, 1998, the college hired Dale Harpenau, a former But he said, “I think he’s telling me the truth. I Lions baseball player who was head baseball coach think he’s being really honest with me.” I said, at Arkansas Tech University, to replace Coach “Let’s try it.” So we moved back to Fort Smith Crowder. with no contract. Harold Callahan became the Lions’ head basketball Shelby Breedlove developed the athletic program coach in 1968. Before coming to Fort Smith, along the lines of excellence that had already been Callahan had coached at Arkansas State College at established, guidelines which included setting high Beebe, where one of his teams reached the national standards in the classroom as well as on the court tournament. With an established reputation as a for student-athletes. Competition in the Bi-State winning coach, Callahan began to attract players to Conference rose sharply and took the level of play Westark from eastern and central Arkansas. During of Lion basketball to new heights. Not only did Callahan’s coaching era, President Shelby Breedlove Coach Breedlove’s teams claim two conference titles, reorganized the Athletic Department and appointed but in 1962 he took the Lions to their first national former Fort Smith Schools superintendent Chris D. tournament with a team that depended on stellar Corbin as athletic director. Corbin set about raising players from the western Arkansas area such as Jim private funding for the athletic budget for Westark’s Jay, Patrick Martin, Mike Linimon, and David growing intercollegiate program, by then regionally Beneux. competitive in two major sports. When Breedlove became academic dean of the college in 1965, Bill Crowder came to Westark Junior
Norma Jean Breedlove recalled that after Gayle Kaundart’s undefeated season at Northside High in
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1973, Shelby Breedlove, who “had known Kaundart for years, went to him and asked him to come to Westark.” Jim Wyatt, former athletic director at Westark and then an assistant basketball coach at Southside High, remembered: Gayle was always very reluctant to make quick decisions. He called me and told me that he was thinking about making this move, and if he did, would I come out with him? I think that his coming here really raised the stature of the athletic program. He had won five state championships in high school and had legendary status in the community and across Arkansas. In Kaundart’s first year, the Lions recorded a 32–4 season, and the team missed going to the national tournament by the narrowest of margins—layup that rolled out at the buzzer of the regional finals game. Wyatt noted that over the next “20 consecutive years, Westark’s men’s basketball teams won 20 or more games per season, 13 state titles, eight Bi-State Conference championships, eight regional championships, and in 1981 a national championship.” Kaundart retired from coaching at Westark in 1987 and subsequently was voted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Wyatt decided early on that Kaundart’s “genius really was in knowing how to relate and change.” To illustrate, Wyatt offered this anecdote: Gayle had the appearance of being such a staunch and stern man, never any joking or anything going on around him. So we were having a good year and winning a lot of games. We would go and play and get on the bus to come back home, and Gayle and I would be sitting on the front seats. As the season went along, the players got bolder and bolder, and they had this song they would sing and call a name, and an individual would have to get up in the aisle of the bus and do a little dance, and everyone would clap and yell. We didn’t pay much attention to them until they got brave enough where they started calling the coaches’ names. They’d sing their little song and go through the team first, then the managers, and then they would call my name. So I would get up in the aisle and dance a little, and they would all laugh and slap skin and have a big time. But when Gayle got up and danced, it brought the house down.
The women’s intercollegiate basketball program began in 1976 with Marianne Ray of Fayetteville hired as the first coach. Laquita Jo Bottoms, who stayed for seven years during which time the coaches expanded their recruiting beyond the local area, followed Ray. The Century Club, organized in 1974 to boost the athletic program by raising funds in the private sector of the community, helped secure housing for out-of-area athletes. Wyatt recalled that Coach Whorton came to Westark in 1986, and noted, “Of course, he’s done a great job ever since.” In addition to the women’s national championship, Whorton’s team titles include a runner-up to the national title and seven regional championships. In the 1998 season, the third-seeded Lady Lions upset higher-ranked teams and won the regional tournament, which advanced them to the national championship, held for the first time in Salina, Kan. The Lady Lions, with a squad depleted by injuries, lost by three points in the opener to the top-seeded team that wound up in the national title game. The Lady Lions won the next three games in the consolation bracket, finishing as the seventhranked team in the nation. With the purchase of the Boys Club gym in 1977, the Lions and Lady Lions for the first time could practice and play in their own arena, which was refurbished and equipped with chair seats on the east side. Bleacher seats came down to floor level on the west side, where the scorer’s table and the team benches were located. Westark basketball attracted large, enthusiastic crowds, and the narrow space between fans and coaches created an intimate atmosphere in the field house. A newspaper article written by Ron Johnson, Southwest Times Record staff writer, about a NJCAA tournament play-off game between the Lions and Hutchinson Junior College at Westark’s gym began, “HJC head coach Gary Bargen, probably anticipating the overwhelming crowd noise, transmitted signals to his team with hand signs.” The article continued by pointing out, “Late in Friday’s contest, Bargen was attempting to give instructions to a player on the sideline when a Westark janitor carrying a large trash barrel cut between the two, interrupting the conversation.” Westark won this particular game by a score of 78 to 64, which put them in the 1981 national tournament. In the Bobby Vint and Charles Ripley eras that followed Gayle Kaundart’s tenure, the men’s basketball team competed hard, season after season, in one of
PAR T I V: W ES TAR K COL L EGE AT H L ET I C S, 1928– 2006
National Champions. In 1981 the Lions won the Junior College Championship in the national tournament played at Hutchinson, Kan., under Head Coach Gayle Kaundart and Assistant Coach Jim Wyatt. In 1982 Wyatt was named athletic director of Westark, a position he held until 1998.
National Champion Lady Lions. At Tyler, Texas, in March 1995, the Lady Lions won the National Junior College Athletic Association national championship, finishing the season with a record of 35–0. Shown (left to right standing) are trainer Dennis Smith, Gail Morris, Christy Domingos, Anjeanette Gilbert, Marie Scott, Alisa Burris, Julia Allen, Stephanie Taylor, Lindsay Graves, Suzanne Clark, Coach Louis Whorton. Middle row (kneeling) are Jaunita McElwee, Becky Duignan, Trisha Bartlett, Kim Williams. Front row (seated) are Jessica Rowland, Debra Williams, Julie Fox, Jessie McVey, Barbara Pledger.
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the nation’s toughest junior college athletic conferences, consistently displaying the class and poise that have become associated with Lions athletics. The scores of former Westark student-athletes who transferred and continued their playing careers at four-year institutions where they graduated give eloquent testimony to their quality. In the 1997–98 NCAA basketball season, Alisa Burris of Louisiana Tech, Sherman Lusk of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Kenny Price of Colorado University, Patrick Hunter of Baylor University, and Reggie Love of Centenary College presented examples of transfer success by Westark College basketball players.
Westark cheerleaders, 1995. The excitement of basketball games includes not only live ball action, but cheers, dances, and heart-stopping floor-to-ceiling triple flips by the Westark cheerleaders.
During baseball seasons of the 1990s, Ryan Nye of Texas Tech, Scott Cunningham and Todd Abbott of the University of Arkansas, Brett LeGrow of Southern Mississippi, Chad Soden of Arkansas State University, and Chad Frazier of Arkansas Tech, all players who had played two years for and graduated from Westark, were the leading pitchers on their respective collegiate teams.
In spring 1998 Charles Ripley retired after completing three years as head basketball coach of the Lions. Ripley, like Kaundart before him, had been a highly successful high school coach, his Little Rock Parkview Patriots going to the finals of the state tournament 10 times and winning five Arkansas state championships over the 21-year span that he guided his young men.
Overall, however, it is the following letter to the editor of the Southwest Times Record, published March 13, 1981, that perhaps captures the essence of Westark athletics:
Kenneth “Doc” Sadler was named to replace him. Sadler, a former assistant coach at Arizona State University, also assumed the role of athletic director. Jim Wyatt, who had held that position since 1982, took on other important responsibilities with Westark College, including that of heading the Westark Employee Wellness program, directing Westark’s Health Education Center, and coordinating the planning and construction of the new arena that now houses Westark College athletics and extracurricular activities in the 21st century.
On the night of March 6, 1981, my wife and myself had dinner at the Family Steak House in Clarksville. Partway through our meal, the entire varsity baseball squad from Westark Community College came in for supper. Having recently moved here from Southern California, we were quite apprehensive about what would happen next. It is with great satisfaction and pleasure that this letter is written to compliment all of these young men, their coach and their school for the high-class, gentlemanly demeanor and appearance that they exhibited. Absolutely no loud rowdyism, vulgarity, or horseplay. Simply a group of fine-looking young men holding up to view a promise of superior citizenship for the future. In our previous location, the situation would have been much more disagreeable for all. Our hats are off to them, with best wishes for a successful season now and in their lives ahead. Signed: Bruce Herbert, Ozone, Arkansas
The University of Arkansas - Fort Smith Lions won their first NJCAA men’s basketball national championship in 1981, but it would be 25 years before the tradition-rich program would capture another national title. Heralded as the 2005–06 pre-season No. 1-ranked team by one national publication and the NJCAA, the Lions overcame a pair of early losses to not only win the NJCAA Region II tournament but win the national title with an impressive 68–59 win against Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College on Saturday, March 25, at the Hutchinson Sports Arena.
PAR T I V: W ES TAR K COL L EGE AT H L ET I C S, 1928– 2006
The Lions, who were coached by third-year coach Jeremy Cox, finished the season 33–3 with regularseason losses to Missouri State University-West Plains, Seminole State College and Connors State College, and ended the historic year on a 14-game winning streak.
The 2005–06 men’s national championship basketball team.
That team also produced four NCAA Division I players: NJCAA Pre-Season Player of the Year Sonny Weems (University of Arkansas), NJCAA national tournament MVP Hatila Passos (New Mexico State University), Bruce Carter (Murray State University) and Fabio Nass (University of Miami in Florida).
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TRANSITION TO UNIVERSITY STATUS, 1997–2005
The legislative session for 1997 had just begun when President Joel Stubblefield asked Mary Beth Sudduth to draft a bill that would give Westark College the authority to offer a four-year baccalaureate degree while remaining a community college. This presented a challenge at the time because of a constitutional prohibition against community colleges keeping a local property tax millage if they became four-year institutions. The idea of Westark offering four-year programs was an extension of the University Center concept that allowed other universities to offer baccalaureate degrees on campus. With the acquisition of “unique” status in 1997, Westark was recognized as a principally two-year college that could offer some selected baccalaureate degrees, initially limited to nine. The advantage to Westark was that these new programs could be offered in the college’s own name and not in the name of other institutions. Manufacturing technology was the first program offered because it had a unique plan of organization that revolved around self-paced education. All of its
learning modules were custom-designed with career elements matched to general education competencies. Norena Badway (University of California) and Sid Connor (then director of the Advanced Technology Program Center) developed and directed the curriculum. Representative Ed Thicksten (Alma), and Senator Morril Harriman (Van Buren) helped get legislation for the program through the House and the Senate. But there was a caveat that at least five students had to graduate within three years or the program would end. At first, there was fear that the students might not get the work done in time, but an extension was granted because of a delay imposed by the Higher Learning Commission. Debus Coplin, Lloyd Hanning, Stuart Leonard, Ron Schwartz, Roger Watts, and Richard Werschky all graduated in 2003. Essentially, the manufacturing technology degree was a pilot project to see if the concept of unique status would work. It gave the impetus for Westark to become a baccalaureate-offering institution— which was a forerunner to university status.
PAR T V: T R AN SI T I ON T O U N I V ER SI T Y S TAT U S, 1997- 2005
The college hired consultants from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to survey the local community and determine what people really wanted from this educational institution. Superintendents in the five surrounding counties, principals, business leaders and other randomly selected citizens were surveyed. About 70 percent of those who responded offered two answers: Westark ought to be a four-year university and Westark ought to offer more four-year degrees. Previous community surveys— On New Year’s Eve 2001, hot chocolate from the chamber of commerce, economic and coffee drew many of the estimated development groups, and others—also sug- 300 in the crowd as they waited for the gested that general opinion favored the clock to strike 12 midnight. development of a university. Even though A sales tax was the only other viable option; howFort Smith was the second-largest city in ever, there was no authority under the law for a sales the state, with a large manufacturing base and exceltax by a university. Officials of Westark met with the lent public schools, citizens felt that a university was lawyers for the University of Arkansas System, then needed to ensure the economic vitality of the area. with lawyers for the bonds, and finally determined that if the county would agree to cede a portion of In 2000, University of Arkansas President B. Alan its authority to the college, then the college could Sugg approached President Stubblefield about have a sales tax—if a state law were passed. The issue becoming a part of the University of Arkansas was presented to the Sebastian County Quorum System. Many years later, Sugg said that the reason Court to see if a law could be passed to allow it. he wanted the college to join the University of Arkansas System at the time was “Because you are Legislation was drafted for the 2001 session by so good, you make the University of Arkansas Sudduth, Westark attorney S. Walton Maurras, bond System look good!” lawyers, and University of Arkansas lawyers to the effect that a community college about to merge with The big question for Westark College was “How the UA System—already having been designated as would we merge?” Would Westark merge as a comhaving a university center—could seek a sales tax munity college or as a university? The Board of through the county. Once the legislation passed, the Trustees discussed the matter and asked what the Quorum Court agreed to submit this issue to the surveys had shown, how the community felt, and voters of the county. In a rather complicated prowhat would be involved in becoming a university. posal, citizens had to vote to repeal the millage, Ultimately, they gave President Stubblefield the dissolve the Community Junior College District, authority to ask if Westark could merge with the and enact a quarter-cent sales tax—all in the same University of Arkansas System as a university, and package. not as a community college. The property tax millage presented a stumbling block. If Westark became a four-year institution, the institution could not keep its property tax—because the Arkansas Constitution (Amendment 52) specified that a community college could not keep its property tax if it converted to a four-year university. The millage brought in around $4 million a year to pay the debt service on all of the campus buildings. Since the buildings on the campus were built by local tax dollars, there was no money from the state involved in their construction and, thus, no money to support them if millage money was lost. A way had to be found to replace the millage money lost in the transition to a university.
There were additional problems. The quarter-cent sales tax would not bring in as much money as before (about $700,000 less), and a half-cent tax was needed. But college officials didn’t want people of the county to pay increased taxes as a result of the merger, so the tax rate was left at a quarter-cent. The issue was put before the people of the county on July 17, 2001. Sudduth was the first person to vote and she said: I camped out down there in early voting to be sure I was the first person to vote … And it passed by well over 76 percent … 76 percent of the people in this county voted for us to dissolve our community
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college district, to repeal the millage, and to enact the quarter-cent sales tax … that was the last step that we had to take for the merger to become effective. The Westark Board of Trustees signed a document of merger with the UA System, the UA System Board met on campus and approved it, and everything became effective Jan. 1, 2002. As a symbolic event to celebrate this victory, a group of people met at the flagpoles on New Year’s Eve 2001, a bitterly cold night, to lower the Westark flag and raise the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith flag. As Sudduth recalled: You know, I had worked on this for such a long time that I didn’t realize how all that was going to hit me … when I saw that Westark flag come down, I just couldn’t hold the tears back … it just hit me at once—that it had actually happened. We worked so long and hard on it … we now had a university. As the campus Bell Tower sounded the bells, everyone celebrated with hot chocolate at the gate of the Campus Green. Afterward, a group of senior administrators stopped by the fireplace at the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center to cap off the evening’s festivities. During the merger, there was much conversation about the new name of the university. Westark Community College had only recently changed its name to Westark College (1998), so there was talk of the college being called “Westark College at the University of Arkansas.” “Arkansas Northwest” was also considered briefly because some people were tired of being listed last in the alphabet. The practice of the University of Arkansas System for previous mergers was to create the label “University of Arkansas at (the name of the town),” which meant Westark would become the “University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.” The eventual name was decided upon as University of Arkansas - Fort Smith. Many day-to-day things changed during the merger: titles on doors had to be re-lettered, letterheads changed, and the university website redesigned. Enrollment suddenly skyrocketed with a greater demand for programs, faculty, office space, classrooms, and housing facilities. Still, the university had received no new money. Programs were inher-
J. Michael Shaw, chair of the UAFS Board of Visitors in 2002, begins to raise the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith flag as Joyce Wroten looks on. Wroten is vice president for university relations and administration for the University of Arkansas System.
ited from other universities whose faculty salaries (more than a million dollars) needed to be met. It was a struggle initially to get student semester hours to support the newly inherited programs; it took several years before the university was able to gain credit in the state formula for all of the course work that had been taught but not supported by state funds. The 20-year campus master plan was completed in just about 10 years and the old picture of the campus showing buildings facing toward Grand Avenue was now a memory. The Campus Green and Bell Tower, an icon and landmark of the city, provided focus for the growth of future campus architecture. Buildings such as the Stubblefield Arena, Baldor Building, Physical Plant, Campus Center, Pendergraft Health Sciences, and Sebastian Commons apartment com-
PAR T V: T R AN SI T I ON T O U N I V ER SI T Y S TAT U S, 1997- 2005
plexes fell into place as the new university emerged in 2004. In 2005, the untimely death of Chancellor Joel Stubblefield resulted in a search for a new university chancellor. Sandi Sanders was appointed interim chancellor and the search began. In 2006, after numerous interviews were conducted with committees, administrators, board members, faculty, and townspeople, Paul Beran became the new chancellor and the seventh administrative head of the organization. What began as a local junior college with 34 students meeting initially in a Fort Smith high school on Grand Avenue had become an important wing of the University of Arkansas System, with an enrollment of almost 6,000 FTE students and serving nearly 20,000 students annually through various credit and non-credit programs.
Numerous faculty, staff, and administrators gave their time, talent, and efforts over the years to develop this enterprise, and it is impossible to catalog all of their magnificent contributions in this short space. Suffice it to say that the history of UAFS reflects the history of human achievement in Arkansas. Harold Pinckney could not have realized in 1928 when he began his walk down Grand Avenue that thousands upon thousands of students would later follow in his footsteps. Nor would he have expected the school to grow into a large community college and subsequently evolve into a state university. The story of FSJC-WJC-WCC-WCUAFS is an example of the power of vision, of seeing opportunities to serve others, and of finding ways to overcome inertia, obstacles, politics, and resistance to change. UAFS embodies the American spirit that embraces progress and continuously seeks to grow from good to great.
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THE FIRST YEARS OF REGIONAL UNIVERSITY, 2006–2012
Investiture, Nov. 14, 2006. Paul B. Beran is second from the right. Third from right is University of Arkansas Board of Trustees Chair Stanley Reed. Todd Timmons, chair of the UAFS Faculty Senate, is at the podium. B. Alan Sugg, president of the UA System, is standing behind Timmons. To his right is Neal Pendergraft, chair of the UAFS Foundation.
The University’s first investiture ceremony convened on Nov. 14, 2006. Paul B. Beran confirmed his vision for the University in his speech before the faculty, students, community, University of Arkansas Board of Trustees Chairman Stanley Reed, and UA System President B. Alan Sugg when he said, “We have an institution that is now excellent. The opportunity for greatness lies in front of us.” Achieving that greatness, Chancellor Beran and the assembled friends knew, would not be easy nor would it be automatic. Much effort, well directed, would be necessary. To that end, and with no loss of time, the Beran administration moved forward. The changes and growth that have occurred at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith over the past five years provide a fitting theme for this chapter of the history. Among the first objectives in bringing about a regional university were a reorganization and the hiring of a provost—a chief academic officer—to improve the operation of the academic system. Eight colleges within the University were created by
spring 2008. After a rigorous selection process that included nationwide searches, new deans were added and, along with their colleagues already in place, headed the College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST), College of Business (COB), College of Education, College of Health Sciences, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHaSS), College of Languages and Communication, College of Student Success, and the College of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM). These eight academic colleges were complemented on the campus by the Center for Lifelong Learning, Special Learning Center, Workforce Development, higher education, and job skills programs offered by UAFS to students other than those seeking a baccalaureate degree. The reorganization allowed for cleaner lines of communication and authority, much needed streamlining in the face of quickly increasing enrollments. The hunger for baccalaureate degrees had indeed manifested itself as the enrollment chart shows (next page). Along with a growing enrollment came new faculty positions, the administration placing an emphasis
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FTE ENROLLMENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS, BY SEMESTER, 2007–2011 FALL 2007
on hiring quality teachers in the model of past UAFS traditions and with far more faculty having terminal degrees in all of the colleges on campus. Since 2007, the number of faculty with Ph.D.s or MFAs jumped from 16 percent to 54 percent. That percentage will continue to rise not only because of higher degree hiring standards, but because a number of M.A. faculty, most of whom stayed with the institution as it made the transition from the two-year college, have opted to pursue their doctorates while continuing to teach or taking sabbaticals for the purpose of degree completion. Marta Loyd, the vice chancellor overseeing the UAFS Foundation, was one of those faculty and staff who went back to graduate school. Loyd completed her doctorate at the University of Missouri at Columbia in 2010, a commendable accomplishment because at the same time she was in the middle of a successful Capital Campaign for the Foundation. In early 2011, that endowment reached the $41 million mark with a $1 million gift from John and Kim McFarland. McFarland, the past CEO of Baldor, one of the largest manufacturers of electric motors in the world and based in Fort Smith, began his college education at this institution. Loyd made the occasional trip to Columbia in pursuit of her degree, trips that were always long but normally uneventful. That was not the case on one wintry night in 2008. Entering the interstate, her vehicle hit a slick spot on the ramp that sent her Toyota Camry spinning in circles to hit the median and then bounce back into a lane of oncoming traffic. When she managed to look up, she saw the headlights of an 18-wheeler bearing down on her, seemingly yards away. Just before the inevitable collision, she remembers a moment of calmness that she attributed to her faith, and the glaring yellow beams of the giant truck underwent a transformation into a soft blue light. The impact was head-on. Miraculously her vehicle was not pulled under the truck but pushed out against a concrete
barrier, flipping around to face in the right direction. The Camry was totaled and a rescue squad was summoned. When Loyd was freed from the crushed Toyota, she realized she was uninjured. Her husband came to get her and together they completed the journey home. She was awarded her Ed.D. in May 2010. Contributions to the Foundation that accounted for this big step forward in the endowment came at the time when the United States and Arkansas economies were in a downswing, making the work of the Foundation that much more impressive. The Foundation in 2010 organized the institution’s first Alumni Weekend and initiated the Bell Tower, a news and information magazine for and about UAFS alumni. Over the past six years most people would agree that the University is well on its way to achieving regional university recognition, a goal Beran set in his investiture address. Recent graduates give good examples of the progress. Amber Stricklin at Alma High School, William Hargis at Lake Hamilton High School, Julia Gordon at Mena High, Ryan Solley at Northside, and Edwina Carr at the Cass Job Corps Center are among the 621 people who have graduated from UAFS, and who are evidently making sure that the excellence in teaching that they
Foundation vice president Marta Loyd with benefactor Mary Tinnin Jaye at the opening of Jaye’s gallery in the Fullerton Administration Building.
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absorbed at their alma mater is being conveyed to their own students in the schools in which they now teach.
here in the city with the University and told an interviewer that:
I had gone away to college in the early 1990s, but with wife, For years it was remarked that children, and job I had let school Fort Smith was one of the larggo by the wayside. I had this void est cities in the United States inside because I never kept that without a four-year baccalaupromise to my mom, being the reate-granting institution. As first one in our family a two-year school, the instituto go to college. My position at the tion had a glowing reputation [Fort Smith] Boys & Girls Club for sending transfer students requires a college degree. I am in to other institutions that charge of a staff, I’m in charge of depended on these rising kids, I’m in charge of volunteer juniors and seniors not only coaches, I’m in charge of Paul B. Beran, Chancellor of UAFS for enrollment but, more outreach to the community for since 2006, outlines his vision of important, for their preparedsponsorships. I speak a lot to creating a regional university based ness and their ability to various organizations as a liaison on the institution’s record of excellence in teaching. succeed in and out of the to United Way and the leadership classroom. Yet, it was the classes, different styles and levels transformation into a fourof leadership anyone would year college that proved to be the “deciding factor” benefit from as I certainly have. for 2006 College of Business graduate Rachel Solley, Moreland said that he “could not end this interview now a branch manager in Chicago for Arkansas Best without mentioning that he was blessed” to have the Freight. Solley said that she “didn’t have to worry teachers that he had at UAFS. about transferring credits or losing credits toward a bachelor’s degree.” Solley moved into Sebastian That faculty devotion to students is the common Commons and bonded with her roommate through thread that runs from the era of Lucille Speakman in the various campus activities and club memberships the early years of FSJC through the present UAFS that they shared. “We had a wonderful time. We faculty. Randy Wewers, a student at FSJC in the were both active in a lot of extracurricular activities 1950s, transferred after two years at the junior colthroughout the school. So, we really enjoyed our lege to a regional college and obtained his baccalautime at UAFS.” reate degree. Wewers then entered a career in business where he reached the highest levels of manageEl Salvadora immigrant Manuel Ordoñez, holding ment in the retail credit field. He felt so strongly down a night job with Tyson Foods’ poultry proabout how world traveler and distinguished teacher cessing plant in Van Buren, enrolled as a full-time Lucille Speakman nurtured his intellect and made student at UAFS. At the same time, Ordoñez comhim curious and determined to learn, that 50 years pleted the naturalization process, and on July 8, later he is helping the UAFS Foundation to create a 2011, after finals in the summer session, went fund to sponsor UAFS faculty on their own selfthrough the citizenship ceremonies. Like many new initiated trips of discovery, undertaken to enrich citizens, Ordoñez was thrilled beyond words. He their classroom presentations. remarked to his classmates in one discussion that among the great blessings of America was to wake Chancellor Beran referred to his own leadership up each day in his home without the fear of immistyle as “charting a compass course,” an appropriate nent violence, and with that kind of peace and peace metaphor for the global outlook orientation of the of mind, he could work hard and advance his family. present institution. UAFS, solidly based in this The husky Ordoñez is an outstanding amateur heartland community, looks to develop mutually soccer player as is fellow student José Lara, who beneficial relationships with institutions in other often can be spotted on the University’s new soccer countries such the University of Ulsan in South field in a pick up game of fútbol. Korea where the university sent four students to live and study on that campus. The administration Amateur soccer player and Fort Smith native Jason believes that having friends around the world bodes Moreland had a new option and a new opportunity
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International students pose in front of Numa in 2011.
well for economic development in our bi-state region. Trips abroad for faculty, students, and staff are more and more common as the University seeks to extend its reputation into other parts of the world. Ragupathy Kannan became a Fulbright Scholar in 2007 and taught for one year at G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology in northern India. A published ornithologist and a renowned authority on the Great Indian Hornbill, Kannan took part in the spring of 2006 as an observer and advisor to Cornell University’s search in Arkansas for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. With contacts throughout the world, and with his experiences in the field and in the academy, it’s a small wonder that students literally flock to his classes. Takeo Suzuki leads UAFS as he makes international contacts in Japan and Monsoon Asia. Visiting academians, politicians, and businessmen from a variety of world regions can be seen on campus and in classrooms as the institution expands its horizons and seeks opportunities for the community, its students, and its graduates. Three visiting professors —Fulbright scholar V.L.V. Kameswari, German instructor Laura Dirks, and Japanese scholar Yoko Kowata—exemplify this global contact, as does a thriving Spanish department. The
University boasts almost 30 foreign-born professors among the current faculty, which numbers 250. Faculty members have received degrees from over 200 schools. Canadian-born Assistant Professor of Philosophy Oliver Heydorn typifies the increasing international experience level of the faculty, having earned master’s and doctoral degrees from universities in Chile and Liechtenstein, and as a regular in the monthly departmental penny ante poker game, playing an astute hand of Texas Hold ’Em. Kenyaborn history professor Michael Kithinji and Williams Yamkam of Cameroon continue the excellence-inteaching tradition of the University in their disciplines while enriching the soccer fields and badminton courts of the city with their skills in these sports. Ray Wallace, a native of Northern Ireland, assumed the position of provost of the University in July 2007: I didn’t know much about Fort Smith … but my wife [Susan] did—she’s from Taylor, Arkansas, near Magnolia. She said the year before that “It’s time to get out of Atlanta; I want to go to God’s country.” I thought she meant Ireland, but she didn’t. She meant Arkansas. She knew Fort Smith was going to be a good place for us, and she was absolutely right!
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One of the compass directions of Beran’s investiture address was cooperation with other institutions in the state in raising the numbers of baccalaureate-degreed people in the state. Wallace observed that the Higher Learning Commission responds well to the innovations they see as characteristic of this institution: A lot of folks are beginning to notice University of Arkansas - Fort Smith as a leader in higher education. We are an institution to watch because we’re on the move. One of those programs that have attracted attention is the Maymester, a learning program where faculty take students on studies abroad and around the United States. Wallace pointed out that with Maymester, a program carried here and improved by his innovative skills: We had a group of nurses go to Uganda; business students to China; students working with Native American populations in Oklahoma; students going to the Chicago Mercantile Trade; students going to Santa Fe for art instruction, and to Mexico for language instruction—innovation
Provost Ray Wallace, faculty member Travis Brown, and art chair Don Lee discuss art and photography at a campus event in 2010.
and dynamism. We look to teach students in a variety of locales whether that be in Fort Smith or the River Valley or around the country or around the world … I think we are doing the right thing.” In the 2011 Maymester, students accompanied faculty to learning venues in the United Kingdom and to a pre-Inca archeological dig in Lima, Peru. Mark Horn, who joined the institution after a career in the U.S. Air Force, came here as a business officer for Westark Community College in 1992. He was
Fraternity and sorority members pose with Numa in 2012. The Greeks have enlivened as well as served UAFS campus life since their inception in 2009.
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the vice chancellor for finance and administration and became the vice chancellor for university relations in the fall of 2011. Horn oversaw budgets and financial plans as the transition was made from a two-year college to a fouryear university—“a period of high velocity change!” Switching the tax base for funding from property to sales, building on-campus student housing, and recruiting and hiring new faculty required what Horn called “revenue stream challenges” for his office and for the institution. In fall 2010, the 460-bed dormitory was added to the 480 existing beds in Sebastian Commons—the separate-entrance style suites built in 2002 and expanded in 2006. This latest housing addition meant that about 1,000 (or 12 percent) of students enrolled at UAFS could live—eat, study, play, and sleep—on the campus, enough to make a profound change in the complexion of student life at UAFS. As Randy Wewers said, “When we came here in 1956, it wasn’t much, just two old buildings.” A profound social change was made in the 164 acres that currently make up the grounds and the buildings, and in how these are used by students throughout the week and throughout the year. Ernest Cialone, a professor of art who lives near the campus and walks for exercise along Waldron Road late in the evenings, has noted the new “lit up liveliness and warmth at night of the campus when the same area was not so long ago dark and lonely.” A heavily-ladened bicycle rack now stretches the length of the south wall of the dormitory, indicative of the fastest-growing mode of transportation for UAFS students. Michael L. Plunkett, DDS, holder of a master’s degree in public health and a 1996 graduate of Westark Community College, who is an assistant professor and program director at Oregon Health and Science University, toured the campus in late 2010 and remarked on the changes: I think it’s just amazing! I mean it looks like a university … my view of Westark from a student’s standpoint; it was a place with really good teachers who I bonded with. They did it because [they] really cared about the students and cared about the place. But it [Westark] didn’t have a real college feeling at all and now you walk through here and it feels like and looks like a college.
Numa. Paul and Janice Beran in front of Numa, the large bronze lion that was installed in the fall of 2011.
Janice Beran, Jeri Maurras, S. Walton Maurras, and Peggy Weidman enjoy a conversation at an on-campus art event.
As part of that university environment, works of art are becoming a fact of campus life with the help and energy of Janice Beran, wife of the Chancellor, and First Lady of UAFS. She has organized the Chancellor’s Coalition for the Visual Arts (CCVA), which has acquired significant works on canvas as well as three-dimensional art. Shortly after the Berans arrived on campus, the renovations to the Fullerton Building were completed and significant portions of the administration were moved into this structure. When Mrs. Beran saw the empty walls throughout the building, she went to her husband and told him he was going to create a Committee for the Visual Arts and establish a gallery in Fullerton. He made only one change, which was to sanction the group as a “coalition” rather than a committee because there were enough committees on campus. Thus the CCVA was born. With input from Don Lee, Art department head, the CCVA established guidelines for the permanent collection, which focuses on collecting works by
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great teachers of art. The creation of the gallery allowed a very generous donor, Mary Tinnin Jaye, to bring to campus three significant 20th century American paintings—two works by Arthur Dove and one by John Marin. These paintings, along with other works in the permanent collection, hang in The Mary Tinnin Jaye Gallery of Art in the Fullerton Administration Building. The institution has also turned to acquiring outdoor sculpture to enhance the beautifully landscaped campus. A recent acquisition for the campus is the eyecatching and unique sculpture of Numa—a one-and-a-half-life sized leaping and roaring bronze lion. The Jon Hair work is appropriately sited in front of the Joel and Barbara Stubblefield Arena and symbolizes the school spirit of the entire institution. Additional welded metal sculptures were added to the campus in the fall of 2011. These works were created in a special summer class that developed from a collaboration between the welding and art programs. Mrs. Beran led the campus beautification committee in placing these works around campus. She also organized the Lionhearts, a community volunteer group to assist in University functions. Numa certainly embodies the sprit of the Lions and Lady Lions sports teams. For sports fans, the entrance of UAFS into NCAA Division II athletic status means that men’s and women’s basketball teams and the women’s volleyball team now compete in the Heartland Conference. The Lions and Lady Lions will compete for conference and national championships in basketball, volleyball, baseball, golf, tennis, and cross-country. The institution was no stranger to national championships during the two-year college era. The Lions won three national NJCAA basketball championships—two men’s (1981 and 2006) and one women’s (1995), while a member of the Bi-State Conference, of which it was a charter member and which is recognized as being one of the strongest junior college basketball and baseball conferences in the United States. Student athletes, coaches, fans, alumni, and boosters created the successes of the school’s teams and the first Athletics Hall of Fame induction of members for the University came in November 2009 when six people formed the first class to be recognized for their contributions to their sport, to the community, and
Volleyball coach Jane Sargent speaks words of encouragement to her team before a game in Stubblefield Arena.
to the University. One of the six initial inductees, baseball coach Bill Crowder, whose 1,005 wins at the college secured him a place in the NJCAA Hall of Fame, was introduced by one of his former players and assistant coach, Jim Wylie, who told the enthusiastic crowd that the beloved but gruff Crowder was seen by his players “as half Andy Griffith and half Buford Pusser.” Along with Crowder, Van Buren High School coach Clair Bates—famed throughout the state—and legendary Lion basketball coaches James T. “Jim” Charles, Shelby Breedlove, and Gayle Kaundart, joined Juco All-America and professional basketball players Ron Brewer Sr. and Kim Williams in this first Hall of Fame class. In February 2011, the second class to be inducted honored All Americans and professional basketball players Darrell Walker and Alisa Burris, along with St. Louis Cardinal AllStar catcher “The Barling Darling” Hal Smith, and former player, coach, and athletic director of the college Jim Wyatt. In the fall of 2010, KUAF, the National Public Radio affiliate based on the UA Fayetteville campus, aired an in-depth program on the robot competition for high school students held in the Stubblefield Arena. Thirty-eight robotics teams from eight states were in Fort Smith Dec. 10–11 for the 2010 Frontier Trails BEST Regional Robotics Competition, sponsored by the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith and the City of Fort Smith. KUAF Ozarks at Large producer Iti Agnihotri Mudholkar interviewed UAFS faculty members Derek Goodson and John Martini about the competition. The interview included Martini’s invitation to the public:
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This is a great event and an event that the whole family would enjoy. It’s free, and the entire community is invited to come out at any time during the day. Or spend the day with us. A recent graduate of the College of Business, Leah Aikey passed the CPA examinations, taking each section only once. She looked back on her preparation at UAFS and commented: One of the things that sticks out in my mind— I did transfer to four different colleges because my husband was in the U.S. Army—is the small classroom sizes that they have [at UAFS] so you really get to know the instructors, the instructors get to know you, and it’s a much better learning environment because you can get more one-on-one if you need help … They also had a lot of activities, like Phi Beta Lambda, a Business Society, and things like that on campus, to get involved to get some other experiences. One of the things that we did through the Business Society was organize a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) group for the lawyers in the community. I mean that was a real life; you know they actually earned real credit. You get some real-life situations [at UAFS], just having that experience to take with you. So they have a lot of things for students to get involved in that kind of gets them outside of just studying, like the contribution that our club received to invest money and research stock. You’d actually make a real portfolio and watch it and learn that way, real-life stuff. I mean I didn’t have anything but good experiences at the University. One such popular and educational University activity recommended by Chancellor Beran when he arrived was affiliation with the national office of the American Democracy Project, which supplanted American Heritage Week observed on the campus. Between the two programs a number of distinguished speakers appeared on campus, speaking in the classrooms to students individually and in groups, and to the public in Châteauguay-style lectures. That distinguished list of scholars who graced UAFS and the city included two Pulitzer Prize-winning authors—James M. McPherson and Shirley Christian (who had once written in a New York Times article about dining at Rolando’s restaurant on the west end of Garrison Avenue—“The meal itself was worth the trip.”) along with noted historian-authors H.W. Brands, Don Higginbotham, Art Burton, author and former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Dale Bumpers, political
World War II air ace Pierce McKennon, a former FSJC student, is featured on the cover of the Bell Tower, the alumni magazine.
writer John Brummett and, in 2010, Janis F. Kearney. Burton is a biographer of Bass Reeves, the legendary Judge Isaac C. Parker court-era Deputy U.S. Marshal who is the subject of a bronze equestrian statue that graces Ross Pendergraft Park on Garrison Avenue. Reeves gazes westward across the Arkansas River toward the former Indian Territory, where he ranged so successfully in the name of law and order. In 2009, the American Democracy Project honored African-American community activists Isabelle Bass and Katherine Brown for their role in forming the Rainbow Girls, a women’s auxiliary that provided assistance to the Twin Cities Hospital during the segregation era in our city. Along with such well-conceived community programs and service afforded by the University, the faculty remains the strength of the University with its continuing commitment to teaching priorities and the striving for excellence in that endeavor. Research and scholarship are far from neglected by the faculty, who in the past six years have seen a number of their articles published in journals and dozens of their papers presented at academic conferences. At least seven books written by faculty or staff members have been published by university or commercial presses with at least a dozen more manuscripts currently in the works as faculty extend their scholarship to stay abreast in their fields while improving their classroom materials and performances. A number of UAFS faculty have advanced scholarship with books published by academic
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presses, and each has developed a readership in the region. These books include Tom Buchanan’s Fishes of Arkansas (UA Press, 2010), Science and Technology in 19th Century America (Greenwood Press, 2006) by Todd Timmons, The Brothers Robidoux and the Opening of the American West (University of Missouri Press, 2012) by Robert J. Willoughby, A Rough Introduction to This Sunny Land: The Civil War Diary of Private Henry A. Strong, Co. K, Twelfth Kansas Infantry, edited by Tom Wing (Butler Center Books, 2006), and Billy Higgins’ The Barling Darling: Hal Smith in American Baseball (Butler Center Books, 2009). English professor Cammie Sublette, a humanities scholar, was involved in the planning of an Arkansas Humanities Council-funded program to preserve traditions, oral histories, and choral music of the African-American churches of this area. Some of this rich primary source material will be preserved in the Pebley Center of the Boreham Library. Two sisters, Rosa Belle and Olive Pebley, and their mother, Kathleen, bequeathed an endowment to be used for preserving and extending historical scholarship of the UAFS region. Today, the Pebley Center houses collections, historic maps and photographs, books, journals, oral history interviews, microfilmed military records, and microfilmed newspapers. These materials provide significant primary source materials for regional research and for students of history at the University. Wilma Cunningham, director of the Boreham Library from 1998 until her retirement in 2011, started the process of switching the library from its previous mission of supporting two-year education—a mission that it fulfilled with distinction—to modernizing facilities, outlook, and databases commensurate with a regional university. This work will continue under the leadership of the current director, Robert Frizzell. The library went through a construction process in 2011–12, greatly increasing its size. To go along with the expanded structure, the library has an experienced and knowledgeable staff with Dennis Van Arsdale, Patti Haberer, Elizabeth Burden, and Dianne Werthmuller, who serve students and faculty by meeting their every academic need. Inter-library loans are handled by Sharon Freeman. Research librarians are always on hand to assist students in their writing, research, and reading assignments. Master librarian Carolyn Filippelli, among her many contributions to the University, its faculty, its students, and the library, organized the work and commitments necessary to digitize The Journal of the Fort Smith Historical Society and make
Students Kristine Stewart, Emily Peevy, and Annie Staton stand before their poster display at the 2010 Undergraduate Research Symposium.
Students Anngelica Parent and Kristine Dickson stand by their exhibit at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in April 2011.
Medical arts students prepare for their Undergraduate Research Symposium presentation in 2010.
it available online to all readers. This illustrates the proactive library programs that seek to provide Internet access to previously hard-to-reach local documents and materials. The History department co-sponsored academic conferences on 19th century history in 2011 and 2012 in conjunction with the Clayton House, the Fort Smith Historical Society, the Arkansas Humanities Council, and the Historytellers organi-
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zation. The conferences have been successful in attracting highly regarded scholars to read their recent and ongoing work, scholars such as Tom DeBlack of Arkansas Tech University, Jeannie Whayne and Ann Early of the University of Arkansas, Daniel Littlefield of UALR’s Sequoyah National Research Center, Angela Raj-Walton, and Russell Lawson of Bacone College.
organizing regional tournaments and elementary school tournaments. Nor is computer and commercial art design neglected in the Art department. Assistant professor of design Travis Brown has devoted time and expertise to restoring family photographs damaged by the Joplin tornado of May 2011. Katie Harper instructs in the letterpress and book arts program, funded in part through grants from a private foundation. Students print placards, posters, and complete books on letterpress equipment located in the basement of the Gardner Building. Some printing effects inherent in this method still cannot be duplicated by modern offset or digital processes.
The Fort Smith National Historic Site celebrated its 50th year as a national park in September 2011 and UAFS was a partner in the proceedings. One event held during the celebration was in Judge Isaac C. Student Kevin Smith presents his Parker’s courtroom at the site and Undergraduate Research Symposium featured the trial scene from the findings to an audience. movie True Grit. English instructor Roy Hill gave a remarkable performance of The Theatre Department produces plays—both the “Rooster” Cogburn, rivaling the portrayals by John standard repertoire and original productions such Wayne and Jeff Bridges. Hill also coached the UAFS as Imogen, written by UAFS theatre director Bob air rifle team. Three full-time and five part-time Stevenson, which took the 2010 Directors Choice employees of the Fort Smith National Historic Site Award and the Repondents Choice Award at the are graduates of UAFS. One of them, Loren McLane, Arkansas State Festival of the Kennedy Center a UAFS honors graduate, received a full graduate American College Theater Festival. scholarship and earned his master’s degree in history from the University of Missouri–St. Louis, Math-science success rates in recruitment and where he worked on the Scott Joplin Memorial retention of students are a model for the rest of the Project—an urban museum memorial to the great campus, and the student-friendly attitudes are capmusician. tured in remarks that 2009–10 Speakman Award winner and then assistant professor of mathematics The Music and Art departments at UAFS offer Gabriel Matney made to the Foundation Board in classes with some of the most noted and notable May 2010. Gabney outlined his boyhood in Tulsa, faculty. The Music department includes jazz saxospelling out some extraordinary opportunities that phonist Don Bailey, composer Chuck Booker, he seized upon which led to his career in higher vocalists Edward White and Elizabeth Momand, education where he now supervises K–12 Education and band director Alexandra Zacharella—who are majors who are pursuing a mathematics specialty. not only award-winning teachers in their fields, but He told the board members in his address that his because of their numerous showings, presentations, supreme desire was to assist UAFS students in their performances, compositions, commissions, and mastery of mathematics so that they, too, could fulrecordings, are wildly popular with the campus fill their dreams and reach a level of satisfaction that community. Zacharella, raised in New Jersey, woncomes from achievement and accomplishment in ders now if she is properly called an Arkansan, an the classroom and in their communities. To that Arkansawyer, or an Arkansian. end, he was dedicating his professional life. Art professor Ernest Cialone’s works are well Math professor Jill Guerra, whose college algebra known through art shows, publication, and private students frequently remark on her ability and collections. His second vocation—he is a chess patience in getting a most difficult subject across to master—keeps him busy teaching those skills and
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the College of Health Sciences once approved by the state Higher Education Department and the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas System.
Pendergraft Health Sciences Center
them, is representative of the professional service leg of faculty. She currently serves as chair of the Faculty Senate and as governor of the Oklahoma-Arkansas section of the Mathematical Association of America, and is helping to develop an improved pedagogy for teaching calculus and pre-calculus to college and high school math students through a grant from the National Science Foundation. Upon his arrival to the campus as the new dean of languages and communication in the summer of 2008, Joe Hardin encouraged an interest in novels including Charles Portis’ True Grit (1968). Hardin’s insight led to a revival of literary study of Portis’ works in American literature courses on the campus. Leader though he is, Hardin evidently was not the only one in the Portis renaissance, as filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen (the Coen brothers) subsequently remade the movie version of True Grit, released in December 2010. The latest news on the book—which, of course, is based on historical events in Fort Smith and the Indian Territory—and movies was a screening of the new version to the UAFS History Club members, with introduction and discussion led by assistant professor Daniel R. Maher, a socio-anthropologist, who is researching the various representations by re-enactments— myth-making versus facts—of deputy marshals, outlaws, and Western characters for a book on the subject. The Pendergraft Health Sciences Center opened in November 2004. It houses the College of Health Sciences, which offers a bachelor of science in imaging sciences and a BSN degree in nursing as well as associate of applied science degrees in dental hygiene, nursing technology, radiography, respiratory care, and surgical technology. The UAFS curriculum committee in the fall of 2010 approved two master’s degree programs—Nursing Education and Health Care Administration—both to be offered by
As part of the growth toward becoming a true regional university, UAFS has developed one of the most successful teacher education programs in the area, and has a glowing reputation for its accomplishments in placing its graduates in K–12 classrooms. The College of Education received a strong endorsement from its National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accreditation visit in 2010 and received a national award from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Led by its dean, John Jones, the College of Education continues to meet the need for capable teachers in the public school classrooms of the region and beyond. As these advances for the institution come in a steady and admirable way, a way that seems appreciated by those outside the campus as well as inside, the observation that Chancellor Beran made early in his tenure—that he wanted UAFS to be as solid and beautiful on the inside as the campus was viewed from the outside—seems to be reaching fruition.
UAFS alumnus William Perry, now an elementary school teacher, addresses the incoming freshman class in 2011’s convocation.
As the administration, deans, and faculty give increasing attention and energy to productive scholarship that further enhances UAFS’ well-deserved reputation for quality teaching, the foundation is being laid for a premium regional university. The community service efforts of UAFS people and departments will become more involved with ensuring the greater good of the western Arkansas–
PAR T V I : T H E F I R S T Y EAR S OF R EGI ON AL U N I V ER SI T Y, 2006– 2012
eastern Oklahoma area through economic and cultural development. UAFS already has a vast “subway alumni”—working class citizens of Fort Smith and the surrounding area, retirees, retired military, college sports fans, immigrants, and newcomers to the area looking for a start and a ray of hope here, and regular part-time students. This community of friends interacts in many ways with UAFS, from enrolling in non-credit courses, to attending art exhibitions, musical concerts, plays, Season of Entertainment performances, sporting events, or to simply enjoying the beauty of the campus and its often spectacular seasonal features (UAFS has an urban forester on staff). As Vera Loy, an author who had three foreign service tours in Vietnam in the 1960s and ’70s, remarked, “I came here to Fort Smith where I could buy a house only a block from the campus because that seemed the best opportunity for my retired life.” Upon the large, tree-shaded campus on the north side of town are situated the 11 major buildings that hold the classrooms, laboratories, libraries, faculty offices, and staff offices where the work of the college takes place. Maintaining that huge physical apparatus is, of course, no easy task. But it is work that is accomplished daily by heating and cooling, carpentry, furniture moving, audio tech, and landscaping crews that reach over the campus. Jerry Street, a maintenance man, ensured that the operations of the campus were in order for the thousands of people using facilities each day during his career at UAFS. He and coworker Lucius Corbett answered the calls for 30 years on everything from adjusting door swings to re-keying secure lockers to refocusing 30-foot-high flood lamps, to maintaining the HVAC systems through the 100-degree heat of the summer and the chilling cold of the winter. UAFS enjoys a “can do” reputation among the community, and that reputation has reached beyond our area. Extraordinarily generous support from taxpayers, alumni, and Foundation donors ensure a healthy future for the University, its graduates, and its region. An emailed letter from a December 2010 graduate mirrors the excitement and appreciation for the institution held by Harold Pinckney, one of the original nine students who graduated in 1930, as he recounted his fond remembrances in a 1997 interview. University of Arkansas - Fort Smith is now an 85-year-old institution that has transitioned from its origins as a local school board-supported junior college to a baccalaureate-granting university, a
Stacey Jones, Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus and Community Events, at his desk and probably making plans for the next Season of Entertainment.
growing and glowing part of the University of Arkansas System. The institution has always been recognized for teacher-student devotion and bonding with the community. That remarkable and identifying oneness may well be revealed by these thoughts as set down by her (AAS Radiography ’06): Dear Professors, Faculty, and Friends, The notion to thank you has been in my heart. Yesterday I took my last final here at UAFS. Tomorrow I walk, again. Wearing the black cap and gown completes my time here on this campus; it is bittersweet. I am so thankful for each of you. I have learned much from all of my professors. When I visited this campus during the summer of ’08 to discuss a bachelor’s option, my intention was to focus on improving my writing skills. I had no idea while enrolling in spring of ’09 that the following year-and-a-half would change my life. I will walk confidently tomorrow night, probably with tears budding. After that there are many roads I would like to travel; hopefully, one of them is to stand in the life of a student as you have stood in my life. Again, thank you. Melia Putman Dec. 20, 2010 In 2010, the University held its first convocation for entering students. The second convocation in 2011 was remarkable for the enthusiasm and diversity of the freshman class and for the exuberant singing of the Alma Mater. English professor Keith Fudge and alumni speakers TV meteorologist Garrett Lewis (Westark Community College ’91) and Sunnymede Elementary teacher William Perry (UAFS ’06)
134 â€˘ U NIV E R S I T Y O F A R K A N S A S - F O R T S M I TH : THE F I R S T 85 Y EAR S
Katie Harper, assistant professor of graphic design, with the letterpress used by her students in creating books, cards, and documents the Gutenberg way.
Mike Crane, assistant professor of history. He and assistant professor Steven Kite co-sponsor the History Club.
entertained the audience with stories of their teaching and student days here and how the promise of higher education came true for them. Not only were Fort Smith and surrounding high schools hugely represented in the class of 2015 that numbered 1,270 first-time/full-time students, but when the provost asked all from abroad to stand, 43 young men and women from 19 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America rose from their chairs with beaming smiles and to the standing applause of their classmates from the United States. These students seemed among the most excited about their enrollment in this growing regional university. The high standards set by the first teachers and instructors at this institution remain the guideline as
The Lionâ€™s Den, new and comfortable on-campus housing for 460 students.
Boreham Library expansion. The new wing, completed in fall 2012, doubles the floor space of the current library.
growth in student numbers, curriculum, technology, and physical plant takes place. The fact that teaching remains at the center of this University is reflected in one of the latest programs to emerge on campus, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. The Center is headed by Phillip Russell, who started his teaching career at Dover High School in the 1970s and who taught at UA Monticello before joining the administration at UAFS. The Centerâ€™s first symposium for teachers occurred on Sept. 14, 2011, and was conducted by members of the College of Business, Dean Steve Williams, Margaret Tanner, and Jim Beard. Their symposium, Coping With Millennials on Campus, addressed the attitudes and motivation of current undergraduate students.
Note: The students were from: Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Estonia, Gabon, India, Japan, Kenya, Niger, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovenia, South Korea, and Vietnam.
PAR T V I : T H E F I R S T Y EAR S OF R EGI ON AL U N I V ER SI T Y, 2006– 2012
“What’s past is prologue” –William Shakespeare So this is where the University is, 12 years into the 21st century. Yes, some things will change rapidly in this, the third millennium. Yet some things never change. We believe that our University will rise to the challenges ahead and continue to offer the best education for the people of western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma.
The authors of this book hold as our best wish for you, the dear reader, that some of the character and excitement of University of Arkansas - Fort Smith is carried to you through the pages of its history. But the story is far from finished. We invite you to remain a part of the University by visiting the campus and contacting the alumni office, and to stay abreast with the eventful days, weeks, and months of the University by logging on to the informative UAFS News site maintained by Sondra LaMar, director of public relations, and her staff at uafs.edu.
136 • IND E X
IND EX –A– A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 12 Abbott, Todd, 116 Act 560 of 1965, 55 Adams, Warren, 37 ADN-RN program starts, 43, 65 Advanced Technology Program Center, 118 Aikey, Leah, 129 Alexander, Jim, 35 Aley, Tilghman, 42 Allen, Charles F., 33 Allen, Julia, 115 Altman, Marvin, 65 Alumni Association of FSJC, 32, 38 Amendment 52 (Community College Enabling Act), 55, 119 American Association of Junior Colleges, 6, 15, 23, 27, 42, 72 American Democracy Project, 129 American Heritage Week, 129 Andrews Sisters, 27 Angeletti, Charles, 34, 39, 40, 41 Angell, E.L., 55, 56 Arkansas Arts Council, 77, 79 Arkansas Best Freight Corporation, 87, 124 Arkansas Business Council and the “Good Suit Club,” 96 Arkansas General Assembly, 31, 34, 90, 96, 109 Arkansas Homebuilders Association, 80 Arkansas Humanities Council, 3, 130 Arkansas State College at Beebe, 113 Arkansas State Teachers College, 37 Arkansas State University, 102, 110, 116 Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, 33 Arkansas Tech, 37, 90–91, 101, 110, 113, 116, 131 Arkansas-Oklahoma Free Fair, 55, 56 ARKnet, 98, 105 Arnoldussen, Valerie, 78 Art Department, 63, 79, 127, 131 Aston, Bob, 50 Aviation Club, 23 –B– Bacone College, 37, 131 Badway, Norena, 118 Bailey, Don, 77, 78, 97, 131 Baker, Ray, 46 Baldor Technology Center, 90 Ballman, Ed Louise, 39, 46 Ballman-Speer Building, 32, 39, 42, 45, 47, 48, 63, 76, 77, 79 Balls, Liz, 87 Banner System, 87, 88, 105 Bargen, Gary, 114 Barker, Kylene, 80 Bartlett, Barbara, 62 Bartlett, Trisha, 115 Bass, Isabelle, 129 Bates, Clair, 14, 128 Bauman, Leonard, 50 Baylor University, 116 Beard, Jim, 134 Beard, Joy, 72 Beckman, Frank, 34
Bedell, Conaly, 40, 41, 42, 71 Bedell, Frances, 99 Bell Tower, 129 Bell, Senator Clarence, 55 Belle Grove, 30 Ben Geren Regional Park, 61 Beneux, David, 113 Bennett, Lewis, 40 Benson, Greg, 77 Beran, Janice, 127, 128 Beran, Paul B., 121-126, 127, 129, 132 Beutelschies, Dianna, 78 Bevens, Bruce, 19, 112 Birmingham Southern University, 23 Bi-State Conference, 112, 113, 114, 128 Blakely, Sidney Horner, 6, 12–14, 51, 63–65, 70 Blasingame, George and the HEW, 74 Blaylock, Bob, 40 Blondin, Jo Alice, 89 Board of Trustees of Fort Smith Junior College, 34, 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 45, 46, 47, 48, and integration 51–53 Bolin, Jim, 44, 45, 50, 53, 56, 62, 68, on Tom Fullerton 59 Booker, Chuck, 84, 131 Booth, C. Douglass, 15, 131 Boreham Library, 48, 90, 91–92, 130, 134 Boreham, Roland “Rollie,” 92, 93 Boreham, Sally, 92 Bottoms, Laquita Jo, 114 boxing team, 37 Brader, Bill, mgr. American Can, 48 Branch, Byron, 87 Brands, H.W., 129 Breedlove Auditorium, 71, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80 Breedlove, Norma Jean, 60, 64, 113 Breedlove, Shelby, 22, 29, 40, 42, 43, 44, 56, 60, 61, 62, 65, 66, 67, 69, 70, 71, 72, 75, 76, 77, 79, 113, 114, 128 Brewer, Ron Sr., 128 Bridges, Dixon sculpture, 72 Brittian, Doug, 115 Brooks, Mike, 87 Brooksher, Bob, 18, 19 Brown, Katherine, 129 Brown, Kenneth, 7, 10, 28, 30, 84 Brown, McKinley, 39, 52 Brown, Sherman, 115 Brown, Travis, 126, 131 Brummett, John, 129 Buchanan, Tom, 102, 103, 130 buildings and acreage, 110 Bullock, Major General W.C., 53 Bumpers, Governor Dale, 64, 67, 76, 129 Burden, Elizabeth, 130 Burnett, Billie, 18 Burnham Woods, 30 Burns, Max, 62, 91 Burns, Ruth, 67, 70 Burris, Alisa, 115, 116, 128 Burton, Art, 129 Bush, George H.W., 30 Business and Industrial Institute, 82, 83, 86, 90, 96, 98, 103, 104, 110 Business Annex, 82
I N DEX Business Department, 62 Butterfield, Hattie Mae, 41, 45, 48, 50, 51 –C– Callahan, Harold, 113 Cameron, Harold, 70, 74, 75 Campus Green, 48, 90, 91, 95, 106–109 Cantwell, Brenda, 78 carillon performances, 108 Carr, Edwina, 123 Carter, Bruce, 117 Carter, J.A., 54 Caselman, Bruce, 78, 82 CAST system, 87, 105 Caton, Rhonda, 78 Centenary College, 116 Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, 134 Center, Jerry, 89 Century Club, 114 Chancellor’s Coalition for the Visual Arts (CCVA), 127 Chaney, Susan, 66 Charles, James T. “Jim,” 32, 34, 112, 113, 128 Cheerleaders of 1950, 30 Cherubini, Rossano, 85 childbirth classes, 82 Christian, Shirley, 130 Cialone, Ernest, 127, 132 Civil Rights Movement, 52 Clark, Suzanne, 111, 116 Clayton House, 130 Clayton, April, 80 Clements, Ray, 94, 95, 99 Clinton, Bill, 86, 95, 96, 97, 101 Clinton, Hillary Rodham, 76, 77, 97 Coleman, Martha, 3, 78, 92 College of DuPage (Illinois), 82 College of the Ozarks, 37, 113 Collins, Dorothea Jean, 26 Collins, John R. Jr., 26, 87, 88, 105 Columbia University, 11, 14, 66 Commission on the Coordination of Higher Education Finance, 55 Connor, Sid, 118 Continuing Education, 81, 82, 83 Continuing Legal Education (CLE), 129 Cook, Bonnie, 37 Cook, Elmer, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 33, 34, 36, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42 Cook, Henry, 37 Cooper, Mike, 78 Copeland, Mary, 89 Copeland, Michelle, 78 Coplin, Debus, 118 Coplin, Karla, 78 Corbett, Lucius, 78, 133 Corbin, Chris D., 57, 113 Corley, Carl D., 106 Cosand, Joe, 71 Council, Dansby, 35 County Hospital, 17, 34, 35, 44 county poor farm, 32, 34, 40, 57, 63 Cox, Jeremy, 117 Craig, David, 89
Crane, Mike, 134 Crigler, Dr. Ralph, 28 Crowder, Coach Bill, 53, 113, 128 Crowder Field, 113 Cunningham, Scott, 116 Cunningham, Wilma, 91, 130 –D– Dafoe, Dr. Allan Roy, 23 Daniels, Mike, 78 Davidson College, 23, 30 Davidson, Pamela, 78 Davis, Arthur “Shifty,” 19 Davis, Greg, 52, 54 Davis, Jill, 79 Davis, W.C., 24 Day, Joseph A., 42 Deare, Gladys M., 41 Deaton, John, 78 Debate Club, 22 DeBlack, Tom, 131 Denton, Cheryl, 84, 109 Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 44 Dick, James, 77 Dickson, Bill, 19 Dickson, Kristine, 130 Dionne quintuplets, 23 Dirks, Laura, 125 Dixie Cup, 48 Domingos, Christy, 115 Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, 106, 107 Donald W. Reynolds Plaza, Tower, and Campus Green, 48, 95, 90, 98,106, 107, 108 Donrey Media Group, 95, 99, 106, 107 Doubrava, Darin, 78 Douglas, Zanette, 78 Dove, Arthur, 128 Duignan, Becky, 115 Dunbar Junior College [Little Rock], 33 –E– Eaton, Judith S., 28 Edwards, Butch, 112 Edwards, Gerald, 28 Edwards, Lahoma Milam, 26, 27 Eells, Walter C., 8, 27 Efurd, Martha, 79, 89, 91 El Dorado (Kansas) Junior College, 42 Eller, Pat, 78 Elliott, Burton L., 29 Ellis, Calline, 66, 89 Engelhardt, Leggett, and Cornell, 110 English Department, 33, 63, 47, 70, 91 Ertel, Susan, 109 Estes, Kent, 78 Evans, Dodie, 41, 42 Evans, Stanley, 38
138 • IND E X –F– Faculty Wives, 80 Fancher, Tracy, 115 Farris, Greer, 79 Faubus, Orval, 57, 62 Feild, Dr. T.A. III, 93 Fenter, Glen, 110 Fianna Hills Country Club, 78 fiber-opic network, 103, 105 Fidelity Coal Mine, 8 Fields, James, 112 Filippelli, Carolyn, 3, 78, 92, 130 Finch, David, 112 Fink, H.B., 102 Fishes of Arkansas, 102, 103, 130 Fitzgerald, Bill, 48, 50 Flanders Business Center, 87, 98, 102, 103 Flanders, Don, 94, 103 Flanders, Phala, 94 Florida State University, 60, 70 Floyd, Ron, 82, 89 football team of 1932, 14 Fort Chaffee, Camp Chaffee, 22, 25, 45, 47, 52, 53, 61, 69, 70, 73, 74, 75, 86 Fort Chaffee Refugee Relocation Program, 69, 70, 73, 74, 75 Fort Smith Art Center, 79 Fort Smith Boys (& Girls) Club, Jeffrey Boys Club, 37, 43, 60, 62, 63, 69, 71, 72, 73, 112, 113, 114 Fort Smith Garden Club, 39 Fort Smith Junior College (FSJC), 6, 7–42, 44, 45, 46, 48, 49, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 84, 88, 89, 110, 111, 112, 113, “College Bill,” 31, 1951 float, 35 Fort Smith (Darby) Junior High, 7, 8, 47, 83, 89 Fort Smith National Historic Site, 20, 131 Fort Smith Public Library, 92 Fort Smith Public Schools, 6, 15, 33, 40 Fort Smith School Board, 8, 28, 31, 332, 33, 34, 36 Fort Smith Senior High School, 7, 8, 12, 13, 18, 19, 33, 112 (Northside), 83, 113, 123 Fort Smith Symphony Orchestra, 76, 77, 109 Fout, Pamela, 78, 87 Fox, Julie, 115 Franco, Pam, 87 Fraternity and Sorority members with Numa, 126 Frazier, Chad, 116 Freeze, Jack, 83 Frisco Railroad, 18 Frizzell, Robert, 130 Frontier Trails BEST Regional Robotics Competition, 128 Fudge, Keith, 133 Fuller, Deborah, 78 Fullerton Student Union, 44, 68, 83, 84, 87 91, 108, 127, 128 Fullerton, Tom, 32, 36, 37, 39, 41, 42, 45, 55, 56, 59, 60, 68, 69, 112, 113 Furner, Coletta, 78 Furr, Lester and Jane, 95 Future Teachers of America, 29 –G– Gallagher, Alma, 57 Gant, Ruth, 37, 38
Gardner Building, 44, 61, 67, 68, 69, 70, 72, 85, 87, 88, 91, 132, Lecture Hall, 105 Gardner, Carnall “Tiny,” 37, 57, 61 Garland County Community College, 64 G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology (northern India), 125 George Peabody University, 30, 46, 42 G.I. Bill, 22, 27, 28, 29, 31, 36, 39, 47 Gibbons, Linda, 78, 88–89 Gilbert, Anjeanette, 115 Gillespie, Dizzy, 78 Ginger, Donald, 81 Gleason, John E., 19, 21 Golden Gloves, 37 Goldman Hotel, 8, 30 Goldtrap, A. Curtis Sr., 45, 110 Goodson, Derek, 129 Gordon, Julia, 123 Graves, Lindsay, 115 Gray, Jean, 23 Greasy Greens, 83 Great Depression, 11, 42 Great Indian Hornbill, 125 Green, Logan, 76, 77 Green, Ronald, 41 Greenwood High School, 34, 40 (the) Grizzly, 23 Guerra, Jill, 131 –H– Haberer, Patti, 130 Hackett, 30, 39 Hair, Jon, sculptor of Numa, 128 Hall, Norman, 24 Hamilton, Ruth, 30, 33 Hammack, Anita, 78, 89 Hammerschmidt, John Paul, 77, 83 Hanna, Jim, 101 Hanning, Lloyd, 118 Hardin, Grover C., 8 Hardin, Joe, 132 Hargis, William, 123 Harpenau, Dale, 113 Harper, Earl, 29 Harper, Katie, 131, 134 Harper, William “Bud,” 36 Harper, William Rainey, 8 Harriman, Morril, 109, 119 Hatton, Maurice, 115 hay wagon, 36 Health Occupations Division, 64, 67, 93 Heatter, Gabriel, 25 Hecker, Nell Joyce, 7, 8 Hendrix College, 14, 30, 40 Herbert, Bruce, 116 Herbert, Kristine A., 78 Heydorn, Oliver, 125 Hicks, Edwin P., 81 Higginbotham, Don, 129 Higgins, Billy, 78, 89, 130 Higgins, Clarence, 37 Higher Learning Commission, 118, 126
I N DEX Hightower, Michael, 64, 103, 104 Hile, Harold, 64, 81 Hill, Roy, 78, 131 Historytellers, 130 Hixson, Guy, 28 Hobson, Jack, 16 Hoffman, J.C., 36 Holbrook, Woodson, 57, 71 Holdsworth, Carolyn, 3, 109 Holland, Kenny, 115 Holt Library, 43, 47, 62, 86, 91, 92 Hop, Frederick, 80, 81 Hori, Miyuki, 85 Horn, Mark, 16, 127 Houston, Jim, 78 Howard, Genette, 102 Howard, James E. “Pete,” 51, 59, 79 Hudson, Richard, 61, 64, 70, 72, 83, 84, 85, 94, 96, 99, 101, 105, 108 “Humanities Sampler Series,” 77 Hunt, T. Leland, 34, 35, 36, 38, 45, 53, 65 Hunter, Galen, 107 Hunter, Patrick, 116 Husarik, Stephen, 77, 78, 109 Hutchinson Junior College (Kansas), 111, 114, 115 –I– Imogen, 131 Initiation Week, 23 integration discussion, 32, 51–54 International Dinner, 85 International Relations Club (IRC), conference 6, 15, 18, 19, 23 international students in front of Numa, 125 Iranian students, 84 Iron Curtain, 40 Itasca Community College (Minnesota), 71 Ivery, Curtis, 91 –J– Jackson, Jack, 78 Jay, Jim, 113 Jaycees, 14, 18, 23 Jaye, Mary Tinnin (Gallery), 123, 128 Jazz Band, 77, 78, 97 Joe Korkame’s Famous Chili, 36 Johanbakhshnik, Herod, 85 Johnson, Debra, 78 Johnson, Lyndon Baines, 16 Johnson, Robert, 79 Johnson, Ron, 114 Joie Theater, 15, 26 Joliet (Illinois) Junior College, 8 Jones, Frank, 24, 25, 29, 30, 83, 112 Jones, Ira, 26 Jones, John, 132 Jones, Stacey, 71, 77, 78, 79, 83, 78, 109, 133 Joplin (Missouri) Junior College, 37 Joplin, Scott, 131 (The) Journal of the Fort Smith Historical Society, 130 Junior College Journal, 23 Junior College National Champions, 111, 114, 115, 116, 117
Justinaiano, Luis, 85 –K– Kahn, Wolf, 79 Kameswari, V.L.V., 125 Kannan, Ragupathy, 78, 89, 125 Kasten, Reba, 38 Kaszubowski, Rebecca, 78 Kaundart, Gayle, 111, 113, 114, 115, 116, 128 Kawazu, Miki, 85 Kearney, Janis F., 129 Keck, Kathleen, 77 Keel, Mary Jane, 89 Kelleybrew, Brian, 115 (The) Kennedy Center, 77 Kennedy, John F., 20, 37 Kerr Ranch, 20 Kerwin, Jerry, 25, 26, 37 KFSA–TV, 40 Khilling, Forrest, 40 Kiner, Helen, 78 Kirkpatrick, Charlotte, 92 Kite, Steven, 134 Kithinji, Michael, 125 Kizer, Judge Bernice, 12, 13, 15 Klusmeier, William, 71 Korea, 31, 36, 38, 39, 42, 47 Kraby, James, 69, 71–73, 76, 79, 80, 82, 88, 89 Kradel, Eileen, 82 Krehbiel, Luella, 6, 11–13, 14, 18, 29, 30, 33, 36, 40, 41 –L– Lacewell, Bill, 89 Lake Fort Smith, 6, 16 LaMar, Sondra, 3, 99, 135 Landrum, Sam, M.D., 67 Landsburg, David, 81, 82 Lange, Alexis Frederick, 8 Lanier, Wayne, 71 Lanphear, Cindy, 78 Lara, Jose, 124 Lavaca High School, 29 Lawson, Russell, 131 Leary, Dan, 79 Lease, Steve, 83, 110 Lee, Don, 78, 79, 126, 127 Leggett, Paul, 64, 89 LeGrow, Brett, 116 Leins, Terri, 91 Leonard, Stuart, 118 Levy, Edward R., 41, 65, 89 Lewis, Garrett, 133 Lincoln High School (Fort Smith), 39, 52, 53 Lincoln (Illinois) Community College, 111 Lindbergh High School, 7 Lindenwood College, 8 Linimon, Mike, 113 Lionhearts, 128 (The) Lion’s Din, 11 Lion’s Roar, 41 Lippincott, Marget, 77 Lippincott, Peter, 77
140 • IND E X Little Rock Junior College, 37 Littlefield, Daniel, 131 Llewellyn, Nancy, 76 Lombardo, Guy, 26 Long, Lyman, 67 Love, Reggie, 116 Lovoi, Paul, 24 Lowrey, Robert “Bob,” 78, 85, 89 Loy, Vera, 133 Loyd, Marta, 123 Lusk, Sherman, 116 –M– Madden, Kuper, 19 Maffett, Debbie, 80 Maher, Daniel, 78, 132 Major Gifts Campaign, 86, 94, 95 Malloy, Richard, 83 Manpower Development and Training Act (MDTA), 43, 49 Marin, John, 128 Martin, Patrick, 113 Martin, Reggie, 115 Martini, John, 78, 128 Math-Science/University Center Building, 62, 90, 95, 96, 98, 101, 102, 103, 107 Matney, Gabriel, 78, 131 Maurras, Jeri, 127 Maurras, S. Walton, 119 Maymester, 126 Mayo Clinic, 65 Mayo, Coach Ben, 10, 12 Mays, Glen, 115 McAlister, Carol Donaldson, 78 McAlister, George, 62, 64 McAlister, Margaret, 35 McCaleb, Andrea, 78 McElwee, Jaunita, 115 McFarland, John, 123 McFarland, Kim, 123 McGee, Jim, 34, 40 McGinn, Clarence, 13 McKennon, Pierce, 6, 19, 25, 129 McKinney, Susan Lynne, 78 McLane, Loren, 131 McMath, Governor Sid, 31 McMurtrey, Ralph, 12 McNeil, Timothy P., 78 McNeill, Troy, 35 McPherson, James M., 129 McVey, Jessie, 115 McWilliams, Bess W., 39 Meeks, David, 78, 89 Meredith, James, 53 Metropolitan State University™ of Denver, 34 Mid-South Community College (Arkansas), 110 Millage Election Certification, 100 Millage Election of 1990, 95, 96, 99–100 Minniear, Walter, 64, 65, 76, 77, 79 Miss Westark Pageant, 69, 71, 78, 79–80 Molinari, Aldo, 14 Momand, Elizabeth, 131 Montag, Mildred, 66
Montgomery, Tommy, 37 Moore, Carolyn, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 92, 93, 94, 99, 106, 108 Moore, Trueman, 74 Moreland, Jason, 125 Morris, Gail, 115 Moseley, Jack, 99 Moseley, Margaret, 99 Mosley, Julie, 79 Mott, Harold, 10, 83 Mott, Mobley, McGowan, & Griffin, 103 Mroczek-Williamson, Rebecca, 78 Mudholkar, Iti Agnihotri, 128 Muldrow, Oklahoma, 40, 80 multicultural, 85 Murphy, William, composer of the Alma Mater, 84 Myers, Sarah, 46 –N– Nagy, Ed, 91 naming of University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, 120 Narisi, Marion, 14 Narisi, Vincent, 38, 32 Nass, Fabio, 117 National Defense Student Loan Program, 32, 47 National Resources Planning Board, 27 National Science Foundation, 105, 132 National Youth Administration, 6, 16 Nelson, Anna Kasten, 37, 38 Nelson, Lynda, 78, 89 Nelson, Rod, 78, 103 Newton, Genelle, 3, 13 Nichols, Argie Nell, 78 Nolan, Scotty, 40 Norin, Lori, 78, 89 North Arkansas Community College, 64 North Central Association, 9, 13, 15, 30, 31, 42, 43, 44, 60, 61, 63, 65, 67, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 86, 90, 91, 98 Northeastern State University, 41, 76 Northwestern University, 11 Null, Tom, 57 Numa (mascot), 6, 128 Numa (yearbook), 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 23, 25, 26, 35, 46, 59 Nunley, Bob, 99, 101 Nunley, Mark, 29 Nye, Ryan, 116 –O– Old Main, 34, 36, 39, 41, 43, 46, 48, 62, 64 old student union, 45 Olsen, Leo, 50, 51, 60 One Hundred Club, 38 “Open Door Colleges” (The), 71 Ordoñez, Manuel, 124 Orr, Nancy, 38 Osborne, Tom, 25 Ouachita Baptist College (University), 46, 89 Outstanding Community College Alumni Award, 80 –P– Packard, Peggy, 12 Paddock, Peggy, 18
I N DEX Panola County Junior College (Texas), 42 Parent Teacher Associations, 8 Parent, Anngelica, 130 Paris High School, 46 Parker, Judge Isaac C., 129, 131 Parkinson, Mary Ella, 16 Passos, Hatila, 117 Patterson, E.H. “Pat,” 106, 108 Patterson, Howard, 40 Patton, J. Fred, 9, 18 Pearce, Owen, 56 Pearl Harbor, 24 Pebley, Rosa Belle, Olive, and Kathleen, (Pebley Center), 130 Peevy, Emily, 130 Pendergraft Health Sciences Center, 90, 120, 132 Pendergraft Park, 129 Pendergraft, Neal, 122 Pendergraft, Ross, 95, 99, 101, 106, 107, 108 Pendleton, Patrick, 102 Pendleton, Penny, 78 Perl, Jed, 79 Perry, William, 132, 134 Peters, Gabe, 81 Petrus, Sister Mary Maurielius, 65 Phi Beta Lambda, 129 Phi Theta Kappa, 14, 23 Phillips, Sam, 35 (The) Pioneer, 6, 9–10, 25 Pinckney, Harold, 7, 9, 38, 121, 138 Pixley, Alan, 78 Platt, Rosalie Schmieding, 12, 15, 16 Pledger, Barbara, 115 Plunkett, Michael L., 127 Polinskey, Terry, 89 Porter, Darla, 78 possum hunt, 25 Postlewaite, Jack, 37 Powell, Susan, 80 Powell, Vivian, 28 Prather, Margaret, 41 Preas, John, 89 President Harper’s “Panacea for Small Colleges,” 8 Presson, Hazel, 11 Price, Betty, 89 Price, Kenny, 116 Priest, William, 71 Prock, Nita, 79 Prosser, Frank, 80 Pruitt, Sherrill, 80 Pryor, Governor David, 83 Pryor, Jane, 84, 85 Putman, Melia, 133 –Q– Qualls, R.L., 95 –R– Radio Council, 23 Raj–Walton, Angela, 131 Ramsey, J.W., 6, 13, 15, 31, 34 Randall, Clyde, 36, 45, 57 Rapley, Gene, 71
Rappeport, Dorothy, 62 Ray, Marianne, 114 Rear View Window, 81 Reed, Stanley, 122 Reeves, Bass, 129 Reynolds Tower logo for Westark College, 110 Reynolds, Donald W., 106, 108 Reynolds, James W., 18, 19 Riggs, Dane, 29 Rigsby, Myron, 89 Rinne, Henry, 3, 77, 78, 89, 97 Ripley, Charles, 114, 116 Robison, Henry, 102, 103 Rockefeller, Winthrop, 58 Roebuck, Fred, 52 Roosevelt, Eleanor, 22, 23, 24, 37 Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, 18, 22, 24 Ross, David, 40 Rowland, Jessica, 115 Royal Canadian Air Force, 6, 19 Runner, Robert “Bob,” 59, 61 Russell, Julie, 78 Russell, Phillip, 134 Rutkowsky, Casimir, 79 –S– Sadler, Kenneth “Doc,” 116 Sanders, Edward “Sandy,” 71 Sanders, Sandi, 81, 82, 84, 94, 101, 103, 121 Sargent, Jane, 128 Scherer, Joseph R., 18 Scholar-Preceptor Program, 3, 98 Schwartz, Ron, 118 Science Building, 43, 44, 66, 87, 102, 103, 106 Scott, Marie, 115 Season of Entertainment, 71, 77, 78, 133 Sebastian Commons, 90, 120–121, 124, 127 Sebastian County Citizens Committee on Community Junior College Districts, 56 Sebastian County Civil Air Patrol, 19 Sebastian County Election Commission, 54 Sebastian County Quorum Court, 32, 34, 35, 119 Selective Service System, 31 Sengel, William “Bill,” 23, 24, 25 Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (see G.I. Bill) Settle, Mary K., 13, 14 Shamrock, Texas, 12 Shaw, Artie, 83 Shaw, Bruce, 34, 36 Shaw, J. Michael, 120 Shepard, DeWayne, 111 Shoemaker, Reverend John E., 42 Shuffield, Sherron, 77, 78, 90 Sicard, Sam, 71 Singleton, Buddy, 14 Skokos, Dr. Ted, 36, 37, 40, 112 Skulman, Robbie, 115 Slaughter, Carl, 79 Smith, Dennis, 115 Smith, Doug, 106 Smith, Fred W., 106, 107 Smith, Harold Raymond “Hal,” 28, 29, 128
142 • IND E X Smith, Isabella K., 29 Smith, Jack H., 29 Smith, Joe, 30 Smith, Shawntell, 79, 80 Smith, Shirley, 67 SMU, 18 Snyder, Monica, 78 Soden, Chad, 116 Solley, Rachel, 124 Solley, Ryan, 123 Sommer, Heidi, 85 South Vietnam, 73 Southwest American, 31, 33, 38 Southwest Conference, 18 Southwest Times Record, 41, 83, 99, 114, 116 Sparks Regional Medical Center, 65, 66, 82, 94 Sparks, E.B., 35, 38 Sparks, Ray, 75, 87, 88, 105 Speakman, Lucille, 29, 32, 33, 37, 39, 40–41, 52, 59, 78, 124 Speer Hardware, 45 Speer, Melanie Holt, 39 Spires, A.J., 78 St. Anne’s Academy, 11, 54 St. Edward Mercy Medical Center, 65, 66, 82, 94 Stamper, Dawayne, 109 Stan Kenton Orchestra, 47 Staton, Annie, 130 Stephens College, 8 Stephens, E.S., 57 Stephens, Marian, 23, 24 Stevens, Jeanne, 3, 78 Stevenson, Bob, 132 Stewart, Kristine, 130 Stewart, Wanda, 24 Stockall, Nancy, 78 Stough, Mary Louise (Scurlock), 7, 12, 14, 28 Stough, Naomi, 8, 11, 12 Street, Jerry, 78, 133 Stricklin, Amber, 123 Strozier, County Judge R.J., 35 Stubblefield, Joel R., 13, 40, 42, 49, 73, 80, 83, 86, 89–91, 92, 93, 94, 96, 97, 99, 101, 102, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 113, 118, 119, 120, 121, 128 Sublette, Cammie, 130 Sudduth, Mary Beth, 109, 118, 119, 120 Sugg, Alan, 119 Suzuki, Takeo, 122, 125 Swordfish Club, 18 –T– Tanner, Margaret, 134 Taylor, Stephanie, 115 Technical Complex, 44, 82 Texas Christian University, 18 Thackaberry, Hallie Beth, 26 The Lion’s Den, 134 The River Is a Wicked Witch, 11 Theta Phi Kappa, 6 Thickson, Ed, 108 Thompson, John R., 14, 16, 18, 24, 112 TIAA–CREF, 43, 62 Tichenor, Linda, 78
Timmons, Rebecca, 109 Timmons, Todd, 122, 130 Trinity Valley Community College (Texas), 111 True Grit, 131, 132 Trusty Elementary School, 8, 12 Tunnell, Gene, 74 Turner, Linda, 78 –U– UA System Board, 120 Udouj, Herman, 57, 71 unique college status, 90, 98, 109 United Nations, 37 University Center, 62, 86, 90, 96, 97, 99, 98, 101, 102, 103, 106, 107, 118, 119 University of Arkansas, 8–9, 14–15, 18, 27–29, 35, 37, 40–41, 88, 100–02, 104, 109, 116–17, 120–21 University of Arkansas Fayetteville, 100, 101, 104 University of Arkansas Little Rock (UALR), 101 University of Arkansas Press, 103 University of California, 11, 118 University of Central Arkansas, 101, 110 University of Chicago, 8, 11 University of Iowa, 40 University of Kansas, 12 University of North Carolina, 12, 65 University of Tulsa, 41 U.S. Army, 100th Infantry, 51 U.S. Army Air Corps, 19 USO, 25 –V– Valenti, Subby, 37 Van Arsdale, Dennis, 130 van Bergen Company of South Carolina, 108 Van Zandt, Floy Ellis, 24 Veterans Club, 22, 39 Vines Building, 44, 63, 70, 72, 91, 99, 101 Vines, Eugene T., 37, 38, 39, 40, 41–42, 44, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 54, 55, 56, 60, 61, 62, 63 Vint, Bobby, 114 vocational-technical programs initiated, 31, 43, 44, 48, 49, 71 Vorsanger, Fred, 89 Vorster, Celeste, 87 –W– Wacker, John, 115 Walker, Bill, 105 Walker, Darrell, 128 Walker, Rosilee, 109 Wall, Addison, 24 Wallace, Ray, 125, 126 Wallace, Susan, 125 Walton, Helen, 76 Walton, Sam, 96 Walton, Tom, 9, 76, 77, 78 Ward Hotel, 18, 34 Ward, Elizabeth, 80 Ward, James III, 36, 38 Warner, Carol, 89 Watson, C. Todd, 78 Watts, Emma, 89
I N DEX Watts, Ernie, 78 Watts, Gordon, 72 Watts, Lonnie, 78 Watts, Roger, 118 Wayne County Community College, 91 Weems, Sonny, 117 Weidman, Peggy, 127 Weldon, Williams & Lick printing company, 10, 82 Wells, Gene, 78 Wells, Linda, 77 Werschky, Richard, 119 Werthmuller, Dianne, 131 Westark cheerleaders, 116 Westark College, 118 Westark Community College, 36 Westark Employee Wellness, 116 Westark Foundation, 73, 84, 86, 88, 90, 92, 93, 103, 106, 110 Westark Health Education Center, 116 Westark Junior College named, 43 Westark Oral History Project, 7 Westfall, Herman, 45, 47, 52 Wewers, Randy, 124, 127 Whaley, Storm, 42 Whayne, Jeannie, 131 Whirlpool Corporation, 82, 89 Whirlpool Master Teacher Award, 89 White, Edward, 131 White, Frank, 73 Whitfield, Ben, 69, 70–71, 74, 87 Whittlesey, Margaret, 9 Whorton, Louis, 111, 114, 115 Wildcat Mountain, 25 Wilder, Franklin, 38 Wiley, Bob, 105 Wiley, Willie B., 81 Wilhite, Jim, 40 Wilkerson, Lillian, 6, 18 Wilkinson, Means, 57 Williams, Dean Steve, 134 Williams, Debra, 115 Williams, Kim, 115, 128 Williamson, Travis, 42 Willoughby, Robert J., 130 Wilson, Bill, 340, 59 Wilson, Don 115 Wilson, Jane, 79 Wilson, Robert D., 78 Winfrey, Ron, 82 Wing, Tom, 130 Winn, Sharon, 39, 41, 62, 78, 89 Winters, Ann Scott, 78, 89 Wood, Judge J. Sam, 33, 36 Woods, Bobby, 59 Worthington Community College, 81 Wroten, Joyce, 120 Wyatt, Jim, 40, 78, 111, 114, 115, 128 Wyatt, John, 40 Wylie, Jim, 128
–Y– Yale University, 9 Yamkam, Williams, 125 Yancey, Claud, 51, 59 Yancey, Linda, 79 Yarbrough, Nancy, 35 Young, David, 76 Young, R.A. Jr., 36, 38 –Z– Zacharella, Alexandra, 131 Zechiedrich, Nancy, 77, 78 Zerkel, Stephanie, 78
144 â€˘ A PPE ND I X
APP E N D IX A Studen t En r ollme nt fr om 1928 to 2012 Ye ar
N o. o f St u de nt s E nr o l l e d and C o mpl e t i ng C o u r s e s
N o . o f St uden t s En r o lled an d C o mplet in g C o ur ses
N o . o f St uden t s En r olled
19 2 8
19 5 9
19 2 9
19 6 0
19 3 0
19 6 2
19 3 2
19 6 3
5 24 4
19 3 3
19 3 4
19 6 5
19 3 5
19 6 6
19 3 6
19 6 8
19 3 8
19 6 9
14 4 4
19 3 9
19 8 0
19 5 0
19 8 2
19 5 2
19 8 3
19 5 3
19 5 4
19 8 5
19 5 5
19 8 6
19 5 6
19 8 8
19 5 8
19 8 9
APPEN DI X
APP E N D IX B Or al H is tor y I nte r v iewe r s Faculty Interviewers Kay Dishner Billy Higgins Stephen Husarik Brad Kidder Henry Rinne
Scholar-Preceptor Interviewers Bonnie Bruce Haley Wilson
Honors History Interviewers Stacy Alexander Yavanna Brownlee Leslie Caron Shasta Cochrane Jason Cockrall Neal Colston Brett Cooper Joel Duignan Sherry Dunkerson Jonathan Foster Eric Garvin Jamie Hall Joanie Halliburton Sally Hobbs Kevin Holmes Nikki Iames Aimee Lewis
Jonathan Luedloff Ryan Mason April Moore Brenna Nguyen Melissa Rankin Jenny Selby Shawn Self Coeby Stevens Marshall Stutts Rebecca Vann Jennifer Ware Deanna Watkins Bonnie Weimar Cynthia Wilmot Erin Wilson Kelly Xaysanasy
ABOUT THE AUTHORS Billy D. Higgins, Associate Professor of History, University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, teaches Arkansas History, New Republic, and Southwest Frontier Seminar. He is the author of The Barling Darling: Hal Smith in American Baseball, and A Stranger and a Sojourner: Peter Caulder, Free Black Frontiersman in Antebellum Arkansas, which was co-winner of the 2005 Ragsdale Award for the Best Book on Arkansas History. Stephen Husarik, Ph.D., Full Professor of Humanities/Music at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith. He has published and contributed to more than a half-dozen books in the area of Humanities, published many articles in journals, and read numerous papers for learned organizations in the United States and abroad. He was the recipient of several grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and has received local, national, and international awards for his teaching and scholarship. Husarik is currently co-editor of Interdisciplinary Humanities, the journal of the Humanities and Education Research
Association. Henry Rinne, who joined the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith faculty in 1979 as an artist-in-residence, is Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of Humanities and Art History. He also serves as a Peer Reviewer and Team Chair for the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. Rinne holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Arts from Ohio University, and a Master of Music in Music theory and Bachelor of Music in Performance from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.