Educators and Administrators

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Entries - Entry Category: Educators and Administrators - Starting with P

Pankey, Josephine Irvin Harris

Josephine Irvin Harris Pankey was a real estate developer, educator, philanthropist, and leader in the African-American community of Little Rock (Pulaski County) for the first half of the twentieth century. Josephine Irvin was born on November 17, 1869, in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents were William R. Irvin and Katherine Harris Irvin. She was the oldest of their five children. Her father was a self-employed whitewasher, her mother a homemaker. Irvin attended elementary school in Cleveland, including at Oberlin College’s Academy, a preparatory school connected with the college. After graduation, she enrolled in Oberlin College but withdrew because of an illness. She was musically talented and studied at the conservatory that was connected with the academy and the college. By 1892, …

Phelps, Ralph Arloe

Dr. Ralph Arloe Phelps spent over a decade serving students as president of what is now Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkadelphia (Clark County). Phelps was also influential in shaping the Arkansas Baptist community during his time in the state. Ralph Phelps was born in Dallas, Texas, on May 27, 1921, one of three children of Ralph Phelps Sr., who was a building superintendent, and Elsie Jack Phelps, who worked as a stenographer in the dry goods industry. Phelps graduated from North Dallas High School in 1939, where he was involved in student debate, Latin, and speech organizations. He enrolled at Baylor University in the fall of 1939. Phelps married Helen Ruth Kennedy sometime between 1940 and early 1942, when …

Pittman, Samuel Pinckney

Samuel Pinckney Pittman came to prominence in northwestern Arkansas as a Confederate veteran, civic leader, Washington County official, memoir writer, and advocate for agricultural and educational interests. Born to James and Mary Pittman on June 27, 1836, ten miles southwest of Fayetteville (Washington County) in what is now Prairie Grove Township, Samuel Pinckney Pittman grew up on the family farm. He received an education at Ozark Institute in Mount Comfort (Washington County). After his father’s death in 1847, Pittman continued to farm and raise livestock. In 1858, Pittman married Sarah Boone. They had a son named William in 1859; he died of typhoid fever at the age of eighteen. Their daughter, Mary was born in 1866; she died in 1904. …

Preston, Alice L.

Alice Luberter Walker Preston was an African-American schoolteacher who was instrumental in the peaceful integration of Murfreesboro (Pike County) city schools in 1965. Over her lifetime, she left an enduring legacy in the field of education in Arkansas. Alice Luberter Walker was born on December 16, 1907, in Paraloma (Howard County), the first of two children born to Lizzie Walker and the Reverend R. W. Walker. Because there was no high school for black students in Paraloma or nearby Nashville (Howard County), her family made arrangements for her to live with a cousin, the Reverend Bennie Neal, and his family in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), and she attended Fort Smith High School. She later stayed with a cousin in Hope …

Pritchard, Ross Joseph

Ross Pritchard was a veteran of World War II, a Peace Corps worker, a teacher, a coach, and a longtime academic administrator at the collegiate level. During his long career, he served as the chief executive at three different institutions of higher learning, including Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County), where he was president from 1975 to 1978. Ross Joseph Pritchard was born in Patterson, New Jersey, on September 3, 1924. He was the oldest of five children of Ross Winans Pritchard Jr., who was a pipe fitter, and Camille Beltramo, a native of France. Shortly after graduating from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. His military service during World War II was uneventful, but while …

Purdue, Albert Homer

Albert Homer Purdue was the ex officio state geologist from 1907 to 1912. He published many works on the geology of both Arkansas and Tennessee. Purdue was a renowned geologist and taught at Arkansas Industrial University, which is now the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville. Albert Purdue was born on March 29, 1861, on a farm near Yankeetown, Indiana, to Samuel Leroy and Phoebe (Priest) Purdue. Albert was the second oldest of eight children and spent his youth working on the family farm, receiving only minimal formal education. At the age of twenty, however, he entered the Indiana State Normal School (later Indiana State University) in Terre Haute. He received his diploma on June 8, 1888. Until 1896, Purdue …

Purvis, Hoyt

Hoyt Hughes Purvis was a longtime professor of journalism at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Prior to going into teaching, he served as press secretary and aide to Senator J. William Fulbright as well as an advisor to Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. In addition, he was a political reporter for the Houston Chronicle. Hoyt Purvis was born on November 7, 1939, in Jonesboro (Craighead County) to Hoyt Somervell Purvis and Jane Hughes Purvis. After growing up in Arkansas, he received his undergraduate degree in 1961 from the University of Texas (UT) in Austin, where the budding journalist served as editor and sports editor for the Daily Texan; he also earned a master’s degree in …