Educators and Administrators

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Alexander, Henry McMillan

Henry McMillan Alexander brought the city manager plan to Arkansas and served as an adviser to many state agencies, cities, and counties. He was the founding chairman of the Department of Government at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Henry Alexander came from a Southern aristocratic background in Jackson, Mississippi, where he was born on September 10, 1905. He had five brothers and one sister. When Alexander was eight, his father, Charlton Henry Alexander, died of a heart attack, just after President Woodrow Wilson nominated him for associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He would have become the first Southerner appointed to the court after the Civil War. When Alexander graduated from high school in 1922, …

Anderson, Joel Edward

Joel Anderson was a major figure at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) for over four decades at the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first centuries. Beginning as a member of the teaching faculty, he served in numerous administrative roles on his way to becoming chancellor, a post he held for thirteen years. In that time, he oversaw an impressive transformation of the campus and the school. Joel Edward Anderson Jr. was born on January 20, 1942, in Newport (Jackson County) to Joel E. Anderson Sr. and Norris Hall Anderson. He grew up on a farm east of Swifton (Jackson County). There, he received his early education while also playing on the basketball …

Atkinson, James Harris (J. H.)

James Harris (J. H.) Atkinson was an educator, author, and historian who, through his leadership in state and local historical organizations, significantly advanced the preservation and awareness of Arkansas’s history, earning him the nickname “Mr. Arkansas History.” He helped organize and subsequently served as president of both the Arkansas Historical Association (AHA) and the Pulaski County Historical Society (PCHS), wrote numerous articles for each of their publications, served as chairman of the Arkansas History Commission (now called the Arkansas State Archives), and co-authored Historic Arkansas, a text for teaching Arkansas history. J. H. Atkinson was born on June 7, 1888, in a farmhouse near the community of College Hill in northern Columbia County, the son of Gracie Ella Finley and …

Baerg, William J.

William J. Baerg was a naturalist, entomologist, and teacher who served as head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) for thirty-one years. His research on black widow spiders, tarantulas, scorpions, and other arthropods led to descriptions of their behavior, biology, and natural history that had previously been largely ignored by biologists and entomologists. William Baerg was born in Hillsboro, Kansas, to Johann and Magaretha (Hildebrand) Baerg on September 24, 1885. His parents, who had left Russia in 1874, worked as field hands on a Kansas wheat farm. The family later acquired a small piece of land for their own. Baerg was the sixth of seven children. Baerg began school at age seven. At …

Bales, James David

aka: J. D. Bales
From 1944 to 1980, James David Bales was a professor of Bible and theology at Harding University (formerly Harding College) in Searcy (White County). Both in public and in print, Bales earned a national reputation as a fearsome debater of theological issues and political ideologies, becoming especially well known for his anti-communism stance. J. D. Bales was born on November 5, 1915, in Tacoma, Washington, the fifth of eight children. Soon after his birth, the family moved to Albany, Georgia. Bales was eleven when a train struck and killed his parents. Bales went to live with his paternal grandparents in Fitzgerald, Georgia, until 1930 when he enrolled in the Georgia Military Academy (now Woodward Academy) in College Park, Georgia, where …

Banks, James Albert

James Albert Banks is an educator who has been called the “father of multicultural education,” a discipline that seeks to develop awareness and skills in teachers and students for living in a culturally diverse United States and world. Growing up as an African-American youth in the Arkansas Delta during the Jim Crow years, Banks developed a commitment to social justice. Banks became the first black professor in the College of Education at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle and is also founding director of UW’s Center for Multicultural Education. James Banks was born on September 24, 1941, near Marianna (Lee County) to Matthew Banks and Lula Holt Banks, both farmers. His formal education began at the McCullough Union School, …

Bartell, Fred Wallace

Frederick Wallace Bartell was a Siloam Springs (Benton County) merchant, church leader, and Circuit Chautauqua manager. He organized Associated Chautauquas, which was among the first “tent” or “traveling” Chautauqua circuits. Fred W. Bartell was born in Milford, Kansas, on October 12, 1872, to immigrant parents. His father, Edward Charles Bartell, was from Germany; his mother, Louesa (or Louise), Edward’s second wife, was from France. He was the fourth of their five children. There also were six children from Edward’s first marriage to Catharine Branscom, who died in 1860. Louesa died in 1878. Edward Bartell and other family members migrated to Siloam Springs sometime before May 1892, when Fred Bartell arrived. Bartell said of his arrival, “I came with the flood,” …

Barton, Dorothy Yarnell

Dorothy Yarnell Barton was a dedicated educator who taught at the secondary level and later as a professor at schools in Arkansas and Louisiana. She was also a prolific writer and wrote on subjects such as education theory, family history, and travel. Dorothy Atwood Yarnell was born on May 6, 1900, in Searcy (White County) to local salesman James S. Yarnell and his wife, Margaret Yarnell. She had one sibling, a brother named James who was born in 1903. She was also first cousin once removed to Ray Yarnell (1896–1974), who began the Yarnell Ice Cream Company in 1933. Dorothy Yarnell spent her childhood and young adult life in Searcy and attended Galloway Women’s College, graduating with a BA in …

Bell, Clarence Elmo

Clarence Elmo Bell was a prominent public school educator as well as a longtime, influential member of the Arkansas Senate. He announced his retirement just prior to the state’s adoption of constitutionally mandated term limits. Clarence Bell was born on February 1, 1912, in Camden (Ouachita County). The son of Joseph Dudley Bell and Dona Massengale Bell, he grew up in Camden and graduated from Camden High School, where he was a star athlete. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from what is now Ouachita Baptist University (OBU), where he continued to shine athletically. Graduating in 1934, he spent the following year working as assistant coach and Dean of Men at OBU. In 1935, Bell left Ouachita to …

Bennett, Henry Garland

Henry Garland Bennett was an Arkansas-born educator who played a transformative role in the development of the state of Oklahoma’s system of higher education. In addition, in his final years, he was appointed to help direct the U.S. State Department’s Point Four Program. He served from 1950 until his sudden death in a plane crash in December 1951. Henry G. Bennett was born on December 14, 1886, in Nevada County. The son of the Reverend Thomas Jefferson Bennett and Mary Elizabeth Bright Bennett, he had three sisters. The family moved from Arkansas to Texas before Bennett’s first birthday but settled in Arkadelphia (Clark County) before he started school. It was there that he grew up and received his early education. …

Benson, George Stuart

George Stuart Benson was the second president of Harding College (now Harding University) in Searcy (White County), but he is most remembered as a crusader against communism. He founded the National Education Program (NEP) at Harding to advocate for American values and the free enterprise system. George Benson, son of Stuart Felix Benson and Erma Rogers Benson, was born on his parents’ small Oklahoma farm in Dewey County on September 26, 1898. He attended several elementary and secondary schools in the area and then attended classes at Oklahoma A&M until transferring to Harper College in Harper, Kansas. In 1924, Harper College merged with Arkansas Christian College in Morrilton (Conway County) to form Harding College, a private school associated with the …

Bentley, Edwin

Edwin Bentley was one of the eight founders of the Arkansas Industrial University Medical Department, now the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Edwin Bentley was born to George W. and Anne Williams Bentley on July 3, 1824, in New London, Connecticut. Bentley’s early education was in the local schools and under private tutors. He received, for the time, a quite thorough medical training at the New York City Medical College, the Twenty-third Street Medical College, the Bellevue Hospital Medical College, and the medical department of the University of the City of New York, from which he received his doctor of medicine degree in 1849. Bentley then established a thriving general practice in Norwich, …

Billingsley, Edward Baxter

Rear Admiral Edward Baxter Billingsley was a decorated naval officer and veteran of World War II who went on to a second career as a professional historian and expert in the history of the U.S. Navy’s role in South American affairs. Edward Baxter Billingsley was born on June 18, 1910, in Melbourne (Izard County). He was the younger of the two children of Edmund Billingsley and Hattie Baxter Billingsley and a great-grandson of former Arkansas governor Elisha Baxter. His father spent most of his life as a merchant in Melbourne, though he maintained a store in Batesville (Independence County) for a time as well. Edward Billingsley was educated in the schools of both towns, graduating from Melbourne High School in …

Blair, Diane Frances Divers Kincaid

Diane Frances Divers Kincaid Blair was a nationally respected educator, writer, speaker, political scientist, and public servant who authored two influential books, served as board chair of the Arkansas Educational Television Commission, chair of the U.S. Corporation for Public Broadcasting, member of the Electoral College, and professor of political science at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Diane Divers was born on October 25, 1938, in Washington DC to William Keeveny Divers and Minna Rosenbaum Divers, both attorneys; she had one older sister. Divers, selected for membership in Phi Beta Kappa as a college student, graduated cum laude from Cornell University’s Department of Government in 1959. Returning to Washington after college, she served as analyst for the …

Blossom, Virgil Tracy

Virgil Tracy Blossom was a professional educator who served as superintendent of Little Rock (Pulaski County) public schools during the Little Rock Central High School desegregation crisis that began in 1957. Although he was generally a progressive and effective school administrator, his leadership during the crisis proved to be ineffectual, and historians remain harsh in their assessments of his actions. Virgil T. Blossom was born on October 31, 1906, in Brookfield, Missouri, the son of George N. Blossom and Fannie M. Blossom; he had one sister. His father ran a construction business and served as the local tax collector. His mother was apparently a homemaker. Tall and broad-shouldered with a booming voice, Blossom attended public schools, excelling in athletics. He was …

Bonslagel, Constance Josephine (Connie)

Constance Josephine (Connie) Bonslagel served as state home demonstration agent from 1917 until her death in 1950, except for an eighteen-month period during the 1930s in which she served as assistant director of the Rehabilitation Division of the Federal Resettlement Administration (FRA). She pioneered the women’s part of that program, setting up home economics programs in most of the states. Connie J. Bonslagel was born in Deasonville, Mississippi, on August 14, 1885, the daughter of A. W. Bonslagel and Betty Beall Bonslagel. She had one sister and one brother. Bonslagel, who never married, graduated from Mississippi State College for Women and pursued postgraduate work at Peabody College, Tulane University, and Columbia University Teachers College. Beginning in 1915, Bonslagel served as an …

Booker, Joseph Albert

Joseph Albert Booker—noted editor, educator, and community leader—was for four decades a prominent leader in Arkansas racial relations and a pioneer in African-American education in the state. Joseph Booker was born into slavery on December 26, 1859, in Old Portland, east of modern Portland (Ashley County). He was the son of Albert and Mary (Punchardt) Booker, who were slaves on the large Bayou Bartholomew plantation of John P. Fisher. Booker’s mother died shortly after his birth. According to one source, when Booker was three, his father, a man with “some knowledge of books,” died when his slave master whipped him to death. His father’s crime was urging his fellow slaves to revolt by “teaching them to read.” At the end …

Bosmyer, Peggy Sue

When the Reverend Dr. Peggy Bosmyer was ordained in January 1977 at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Little Rock (Pulaski County) by the Right Reverend Christoph Keller Jr., bishop of the Diocese of Arkansas, she was the first woman in the South to be regularly ordained under a new canon as a priest in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA). Peggy Sue Bosmyer was born on July 26, 1948, in Helena (Phillips County), the daughter of Thomas Bosmyer, who was an insurance adjustor, and Margaret Markland Bosmyer, an elementary school teacher. Her older sister, Judy, had been born in 1944. Bosmyer graduated from Central High School in Helena in 1966. In 1970, she received a BA in …

Breysacher, Augustus Louis

Augustus Louis Breysacher was one of the eight founders of the Arkansas Industrial University Medical Department, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Augustus Breysacher was born in Canton, Ohio, on February 2, 1831, to German immigrants George Breysacher and Elizabeth Keller Breysacher. Breysacher had three sisters. The family moved from Ohio to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1832. Breysacher received his general education in St. Louis, with additional courses in literature and the classics at St. Xavier College in Cincinnati, Ohio. He graduated from Missouri Medical College in St. Louis in 1859 and was certified as a chemist and pharmacist. Immediately after graduation, Breysacher received an appointment as acting assistant surgeon in the U.S. Army. He was assigned …

Brill, Howard Walter

Howard Walter Brill, a professor of law at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), earned a national reputation as an authority on legal ethics and served sixteen months, in 2015 and 2016, as chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. His 1986 book, Arkansas Professional and Judicial Ethics, and seven subsequent editions dictated the state’s regulation of the conduct of lawyers and judges for more than a generation. Howard Brill was born on October 18, 1943, in Englewood, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from New York City. His parents, Edwin Lois Brill Jr. and Catharine Linsmann Brill, were born in the Bronx and married there but moved across the river to New Jersey before Howard and …

Brown, Floyd B.

Floyd B. Brown founded the Fargo Agricultural School in Monroe County in 1919 to provide the equivalent of elementary and secondary vocational education for African-American students. The school was for both day and residential students and was modeled after the Tuskegee Institute, which Brown attended, where students learned practical skills intended to help them achieve success and economic security. Floyd Brown was born on April 27, 1891, in Stampley, Mississippi, the second of ten children and the son of black tenant farmers Charles and Janie Brown. As a youth, Brown worked with his father in the cotton fields of Mississippi and the cane fields of Louisiana. His mother, who had heard of the work of Booker T. Washington, encouraged him …

Brown, J. L.

aka: James Lafayette Brown
James Lafayette (J. L.) Brown, one of the most influential early leaders of the Landmark Baptist movement in Arkansas, was a minister, editor, poet, legislator, and published writer. J. L. Brown was born at Elm Store, a rural community on the Eleven Point River in northwestern Randolph County, on December 7, 1853. He was the youngest of the eight children of farmer Elijah Brown and his wife, Mozilla. The father died in 1859, and James and his family relocated to eastern Independence County after the Civil War. He later recalled that he “was raised in poverty and received the most rudimentary of educations.” Most of his class room education was obtained after he was an adult. He was ordained as …

Brown, John Elward

A prominent evangelist, publisher, radio pioneer, and educator in the first half of the twentieth century, John Elward Brown established John Brown University (JBU), one of the state’s leading private universities. He was also the leading figure in securing passage of a law prohibiting the sale of alcohol in Benton County, a ban that continued into the twenty-first century. John Brown was born on April 2, 1879, near Center Point, Iowa, the fifth of nine children born to Civil War veteran John Franklin Brown and his wife, Julia. The elder Brown, weakened by war injuries, could not perform arduous farm work, so the family subsisted on a meager soldier’s pension. At age eleven, Brown dropped out of school to work …

Brown, Walter Lee

A Texan who helped shape the discipline of Arkansas history, Walter Lee Brown oversaw the daily operations of the Arkansas Historical Association (AHA) for thirty-five years and edited its journal, the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, for almost as long. Walter L. Brown was born in Gatesville, Texas, in 1924, to Frank J. Brown and Alice Berry Brown. Brown served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He earned a BA in history at Texas A&M University (1949) and an MA (1950) and PhD (1955) from the University of Texas. His dissertation was only the first installment in a lifetime of work on the Arkansas politician and polymath Albert Pike. In 1954, Brown joined the history department at the University …

Carter, Vertie Lee Glasgow

Vertie Lee Glasgow Carter is a renowned educator whose doctorate in education paved her way into previously unattainable arenas for an African-American woman of her time in Arkansas. Over her long career in education, she influenced generations of teachers and revolutionized the way Arkansas applied employment and merit systems. She is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Vertie L. Glasgow was born on October 19, 1923, into the sharecropping family of Daisy James Glasgow, who was also a schoolteacher, and Thomas Glasgow in the Antioch community in Hempstead County. To buy books and pay tuition to Yerger High School in Hope (Hempstead County), she raised and sold pigs. After graduating from high school in 1942, she attended …

Case, Sarah Esther

Sarah Esther Case was the first woman from Arkansas to be called as a foreign missionary by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. She was also the first woman to hold a full-time connectional appointment in the church hierarchy, serving for fourteen years as secretary of the General Board of Missions. “Essie” Case was born January 28, 1868, in Izard County, the eldest of the thirteen children of Robert Ridgway Case, a merchant, and Ella Byers Case. Case inherited an interest in the work of the Methodist church from her grandmothers, Sarah Ridgway Case and Esther Wilson Byers. Both were leaders in the establishment of women’s work at First Methodist Episcopal Church, South, of Batesville (Independence County), and both were charter …

Chamberlin, Henry Howard “Hank”

Henry Howard “Hank” Chamberlin is considered to be the father of forestry education in Arkansas. He began the forestry department at Arkansas Agricultural & Mechanical College (A&M)—now the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM)—in September 1945 with three students. From this humble beginning came the School of Forest Resources at UAM and the Arkansas Forest Resources Center of Excellence. The School of Forest Resources at UAM is the only forestry school in Arkansas. Hank Chamberlin was born on March 8, 1913, in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, to William Chamberlin and Ellen Reed Chamberlin; his father worked as a barber. He was the youngest of four children. After high school, Chamberlin attended Pennsylvania State University and received his BS in forestry. He received …

Clark, Alida Clawson

Alida Clawson Clark, an Indiana Quaker who co-founded Southland College, arrived in Arkansas with her husband, Calvin, in April 1864 on a wartime mission to provide material and spiritual comfort to former slaves while war raged in the rest of the state. After supervising a temporary orphanage and school for black children in Union-occupied Helena (Phillips County), the Clarks moved their charges and school to a rural site near Helena, establishing what became Southland College (later Southland Institute), the first academy of higher education for African Americans west of the Mississippi River. She also founded Southland Monthly Meeting, the first predominantly black Friends Meeting for Worship in more than two centuries of Quaker history. Alida Clawson was born February 9, …

Clark, Calvin

Calvin Clark was a prominent Quaker leader and educator in post–Civil War Arkansas. With his wife, Alida Clark, he founded Southland College in Helena (Phillips County), the first institution of higher education for African Americans west of the Mississippi River. Calvin Clark was born in Wayne County, Indiana, on July 21, 1820, one of five children born to John Clark and Anna Price Clark. Clark received his early education in the local schools of Wayne and Morgan counties in Indiana. His mother died when he was about twelve; his father, who remarried, died when Clark was fifteen. Clark went to live with his uncle in Monrovia, and after getting additional formal schooling, at age eighteen, he began teaching in Richmond, …

Conger, John William

John William Conger served as president of five colleges, including three in Arkansas: Searcy College, Central College (now Central Baptist College), and Ouachita College (now Ouachita Baptist University). John Conger was born on February 20, 1857, in Jackson, Tennessee, the seventh of ten children born to Philander Drew Whitehill Conger and Eliza Jane Chambers Conger. His father was an architect and a general contractor and served several terms as mayor of Jackson. His great-grandfather, James B. Conger, invented the turbine water wheel and contributed to Scientific American magazine. Conger earned an AB in 1878 and an AM degree in mental sciences in 1885 from Southwest Baptist University (now Union University in Tennessee). He became president at the Odd Fellows College …

Connelly, Mary

Mary Connelly was an early educator in southern Arkansas. Operating a school first in Camden (Ouachita County) and later in Arkadelphia (Clark County), she helped establish the latter city’s reputation as an educational center. Mary Connelly was born to the Reverend Henry Connelly and Jane Johnson Connelly in Newburgh, New York; her exact date of birth is unknown. The oldest of eleven children, she graduated from the Presbyterian-affiliated Washington Female Seminary in Washington, Pennsylvania, in 1855. Connelly worked in Camden during the Civil War as a teacher. At the outbreak of the war, she was teaching at a private school in the town and was unable to secure transportation home to New York. She remained in Camden for the duration …

Cook, Doris Marie

Doris Marie Cook achieved many firsts in accounting, accounting education, and business in Arkansas. Cook was the first woman to receive the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation in the state, the first woman to be hold the rank of university professor at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), the first female member of the Arkansas Society of CPAs, the first woman to serve on and become president of the National Council for the Beta Alpha Psi academic honor organization, and the first woman to hold an endowed lectureship chair at UA. Doris Cook was born in Fayetteville on June 11, 1924. She was the second of two children born to Ira Cook and Mettie Dorman Cook. Cook …

Corbin, Joseph Carter

Joseph Carter Corbin, journalist, served as Arkansas state superintendent of public instruction during Reconstruction and was the founder and president of the first African-American institution of higher education in Arkansas. Joseph C. Corbin was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, on March 26, 1833, the eldest son of free black parents, William and Susan Corbin. He had eleven siblings. He attended school during the winter months, a common practice at the time. In 1848, Corbin traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, to assist Reverend Henry A. Adams as a teacher. He taught school for some years and then attended Ohio University at Athens. He graduated with a BA in art in 1853 and an MA in art in 1856. An honorary doctoral degree was …

Davis, Erma Lee Glasco

Erma Lee Glasco Davis is a historian, civic leader, and educator. She is best known for preserving and communicating the legacy of her alma mater, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and Junior College (the building is in use in the twenty-first century as Dunbar Magnet Middle School), and highlighting the impact this historically black institution had in Arkansas. She is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Erma Lee Glasco was born on December 31, 1928, in Eagle Township of Pulaski County, near Keo (Lonoke County), to Anderson Glasco and Rodelia Glasco. Her father was a stone and masonry contractor, a deacon at Mount Zion Baptist Church, a member of the Arkansas Minority Contractors Association, and a former …

Davis, Lawrence Arnette, Sr.

Lawrence A. Davis Sr. served as president of Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College (AM&N) from 1943 until his resignation in 1973. During his tenure, he oversaw the school’s 1972 transition from college to university status as part of the University of Arkansas System. The merger entailed a name change to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), and Davis served one year as UAPB’s first chancellor. During his long tenure, Davis, whom Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) residents and students at AM&N affectionately called “Prexy,” was among the most prominent heads of a historically black college (HBC) in the country. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1996. Lawrence Arnette Davis was born on July …

Dibrell, James Anthony, Jr.

James Anthony Dibrell Jr. was a founder of the University of Arkansas Medical Department (now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences—UAMS) and served as its second dean. As a practicing physician and dean of the medical school, Dibrell was responsible for many of the developments in medical education in Arkansas at the turn of the century. James Dibrell was born on August 20, 1846, near Van Buren (Crawford County). His father, James A. Dibrell Sr., was a prominent pioneer physician of the Van Buren area well known in state medical circles. The Civil War had taken a toll on the family finances, so Dibrell began his medical education by “reading” medicine with his father in the evenings and working …

Dickinson, Samuel Dorris

  Samuel Dorris Dickinson was an archaeologist, historian, journalist, linguist, and college instructor. He was one of the early academically trained archaeologists to work and teach in Arkansas. He was a participant in the development of the field of archaeology in the United States, when few who worked as archaeologists had college degrees. He was an editor at the Arkansas Gazette, Arkansas Democrat, and Shreveport Journal for nearly thirty years. Dickinson was a well-known collector of antiques from the early territorial period of Arkansas. He also acquired folk art, religious art, books, paintings, and fossils. Dickinson published widely on his archaeological and historical research in a number of regional professional journals. Sam Dickinson was born on February 26, 1912, in …

Dodge, Eva Francette

Eva Francette Dodge was a pioneer physician, educator in obstetrics and gynecology, and advocate for maternal health care and sex education for young people in Arkansas and the United States. Her influence was felt worldwide through her work with the Pan American Medical Women’s Alliance (PAMWA) as an obstetrical consultant. Dodge was adamant in her belief that birth control was a right of women and that sex education was to be provided for all youth. Eva Dodge was born on July 24, 1896, to George Dodge and Winnie Worthen Dodge in New Hampton, New Hampshire. Her father was a physician who greatly influenced her choice of medicine as a career. She was the eldest of three daughters. Dodge graduated from …

Dunn, Charles DeWitt

Charles DeWitt Dunn served as the president of Henderson State University from 1986 until 2008, making him the longest-serving president in the institution’s history. Charles Dunn was born on December 2, 1945, to Charles E. Dunn and Lucille Dunn in Magnolia (Columbia County). The Dunn family operated a restaurant in McNeil (Columbia County), where Charles graduated from high school in 1963. Attending Southern State College (now Southern Arkansas University), Dunn earned an undergraduate degree in political science in 1967. He earned a graduate degree in government at the University of North Texas in 1970 and a doctoral degree in political science at Southern Illinois University in 1973. Dunn married Donna Jane Parsons in 1966, and the couple had two daughters …

Earle, Fontaine Richard

Fontaine Richard Earle was a major in the Thirty-fourth Arkansas Infantry (CSA) from Cane Hill (Washington County). He fought in a number of Civil War battles in the Trans-Mississippi Theater and later served northwest Arkansas as a legislator (1866–1867), minister, teacher, administrator, and author. Fontaine R. Earle was born on January 9, 1831, in Pond River, Kentucky. His parents, Samuel Baylis Earle and Jane Woodson Earle, were farmers in Pond River; he had eight siblings. Earle received bachelor’s degrees in arts and divinity from Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee, in 1858. He moved to Boonsboro (now Cane Hill) in 1859 to become president of Cane Hill College and a Cumberland Presbyterian minister. During the Civil War, he became engaged to …

Eastham, Alan, Jr.

Alan Eastham Jr. was a career Foreign Service officer. Over the course of thirty-five years, he held posts in countries all over the globe, establishing a special expertise and serving his longest stints in countries on the African continent. Upon his retirement from the Foreign Service, he returned to Arkansas and became a member of the faculty at his alma mater, Hendrix College. Alan Eastham Jr. was born on October 16, 1951, in Dumas (Desha County). He received his early education in the local schools and spent much of his time at the local public library. In 1973, he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County). He later earned a law degree from Georgetown …

Eaves, Thomas Cary Duncan

Thomas Cary Duncan Eaves taught in the English Department at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) for thirty-seven years, ultimately being named a UA University Professor. Along with fellow UA professor Ben Drew Kimpel, Eaves wrote the definitive biography of eighteenth-century novelist Samuel Richardson; they also published numerous articles on Richardson and the works of twentieth-century poet Ezra Pound. Highly regarded as a scholar, Eaves was also renowned for the liveliness of his lectures and was a favorite among students in his department. Born in Union, South Carolina, on October 11, 1918, Duncan Eaves (who published under the name T. C. Duncan Eaves) was the only child of Donald Matheson Eaves and Louisa Duncan Eaves. He attended …

Elam, Lloyd Charles

Lloyd C. Elam was a groundbreaking psychiatrist and college administrator who founded the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, and later served as that college’s president. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1997. Lloyd Charles Elam was born on October 27, 1928, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Harry Elam and Ruth Davis Elam. Elam was baptized at age seven at Christ Temple Church of Christ (Holiness) USA in Little Rock; he was active in Sunday school, becoming superintendent of the Sunday school at age seventeen. He attended Stephens Elementary School, then Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, where he graduated at the age of fifteen in 1944. Elam …

Elrod, Ben

Ben Moody Elrod was a prominent educational and civic leader in the latter part of the twentieth century. A minister, fundraiser, and educator dedicated to expanding students’ worldview, he played a central role in the growth and development of what is now Ouachita Baptist University (OBU). Ben M. Elrod was born on October 13, 1930, in Rison (Cleveland County). The second son of Searcy Elrod and Frances Sadler Elrod, he got his early education in Rison, but beginning at age fifteen he spent part of two years serving as a page in the U.S. House of Representatives. It was during his time in Washington DC that he first felt called to the ministry. After returning to Rison in time to …

Evans, David L.

David L. Evans worked as an engineer on the Saturn rockets and Apollo moon landing missions but became best known later for his recruitment efforts on behalf of Harvard University, where his work led to greater diversity in the student body. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2005. David L. Evans was born in 1939 in Wabash (Phillips County), near Helena (Phillips County), to sharecropper parents; he was the fourth of seven children. His father died when he was ten years old. Family members encouraged his mother, pregnant with her seventh child, to move to Chicago, Illinois, or Cleveland, Ohio. Instead, his mother left tenant farming and became a maid. When Evans was sixteen, his …

Fisher, Isaac

Isaac Fisher was a prominent African-American educator in the early part of the twentieth century. A protégé of famed black educator and leader Booker T. Washington, Fisher served as president of Branch Normal College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff—UAPB) in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) from 1902 to 1911. Isaac Fisher was born on January 18, 1877, on a plantation named Perry’s Place in East Carroll Parish, Louisiana. His parents were former slaves; little is known about them beyond the fact that they had sixteen children, the last of whom was Isaac. In 1882, the family was forced to live for six months in the plantation’s cotton gin following a levee break on the Mississippi River, an experience …

Flowers, Beulah Lee Sampson

Beulah Lee Sampson Flowers was an African-American educator, community leader, political activist, and businesswoman who was also a mentor to Maya Angelou. Beulah Sampson was born on January 10, 1883, in Hempstead County, Arkansas. Her parents, John Sampson Sr. and Frances Johnson Sampson, were ex-slaves and farmers who lived in the Ozan and Mine Creek townships of Hempstead County. According to the Sampson-Flowers oral tradition, Beulah was the youngest child of approximately twenty-three full and half siblings. Family members debate the exact number of her siblings. She received a public school education in Hempstead County and attended Bowen Seminary in Clow (Hempstead County). Sampson completed her education at Williams Industrial College, a vocational training school for African Americans, in Little …

Futrall, John Clinton

John Clinton Futrall was an influential figure in the world of Arkansas higher education. Serving as president of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) for more than two and a half decades in the early part of the twentieth century, he oversaw the transformation of the state’s higher-education system. John C. Futrall was born on March 9, 1873, in Jackson, Tennessee, to Thomas Andrew Futrall and Emma Headen Futrall. One of seven children, Futrall received his early education in the public schools of Marianna (Lee County), where his father had served as superintendent of schools. In 1888, he graduated from the Marianna Male and Female Institute and then attended the University of Arkansas for two years before …

Gates, Noah Putnam

Noah Putnam Gates was an important educator in Arkansas in the last few decades of the nineteenth century. He played a particularly influential role in the development of what became the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Noah Putnam Gates was born on November 18, 1932, near Princeton, Kentucky, the son of Nathan Gates and Carolina Davidson Gates. His early education took place in a wide range of schools (predominantly church affiliated) located in Kentucky and Missouri. He attended Chapel Hill College in Chapel Hill, Missouri, and Princeton College in Princeton, Kentucky, before studying at Illinois Normal University and the University of Michigan. He did not receive a degree from any of these schools, but the board of …

Gatewood, Willard Badgett, Jr.

Willard Badgett Gatewood Jr. was a nationally recognized scholar and longtime professor of history at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). He also served briefly as chancellor of the university. Gatewood was the author of numerous books, most dealing with African-American and southern history. Willard B. Gatewood was born on February 23, 1931, on a farm on the Park Springs Road in Caswell County, North Carolina. His parents were Willard B. Gatewood, who was a tobacco farmer, and Bessie Pryor Gatewood; he had two brothers and four sisters. He received his BA, MA, and PhD in history at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He began his college teaching career at East Tennessee State University in 1957, …