Educators and Administrators

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Ray, Mary Lee McCrary

Mary L. Ray spent thirty-seven years educating African Americans. She applied the self-help approach she learned at the Tuskegee Institute to formal education in private and public schools, and then in informal education as the first African-American female employee of the “Negro” division of the Arkansas Agricultural Extension Service—that is, the first black home demonstration agent in the state. Mary Lee McCrary’s birth year and early life remain a mystery. During the late nineteenth century,  as African Americans faced increased assaults to their civil liberties, many turned to capitalism, another American ideal, as visible evidence of citizenship. McCrary apparently embraced this approach. She learned the self-help philosophy from one of the most celebrated advocates of the approach, Booker T. Washington, …

Reng, Carl Raymond

Carl Reng served as president of what is now Arkansas State University in Jonesboro (Craighead County) from 1951 to 1975. When he started, the school had an enrollment of only 863 students and faculty numbering eighty-one. By the time he retired in 1975, the school had evolved into a major educational institution with more than 7,300 students, taught by a faculty of 342. In addition, he oversaw the school’s transition from a college to full university status, becoming the second such university in the state. Carl Raymond Reng was born on May 13, 1910, to a farming family near Sioux Rapids, Iowa. His parents were John Gilbert Reng and Anna Marie Severson Reng, a Norwegian immigrant. Carl was the third …

Rhodes, Emma Kelly

Emma Kelly Rhodes is a prominent educator and social activist who has established a series of nonprofit education centers across Arkansas. Using her own life as an example, she worked to increase access to education, especially for those who have dropped out of high school. Rhodes has sought to give these people the education and training necessary to allow them to recast their lives. Emma Kelly was born on May 9, 1937. Growing up in a family of fourteen, she was a tenth-grade dropout at age fifteen, a mother at sixteen, and a widow at twenty-nine. Despite all this, she reared and educated seven children, each of whom earned at least a degree from a technical college, with a number …

Rosenzweig, Irene

Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) native Irene Rosenzweig earned a doctoral degree from Bryn Mawr College in classics, received the Prix de Rome from the American Academy in Rome, and tutored members of the family of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. After a teaching career near Washington DC, Rosenzweig returned to Pine Bluff, where she was a benefactor of Trinity Village Medical Center. A biennial art exhibition named in her honor supports the permanent collection of the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas through an endowment left by Rosenzweig. Irene Rosenzweig was born in Pine Bluff on July 26, 1903, to Pauline Sarason-Rosenzweig and William M. Rosenzweig. She had one sister. Her father had emigrated from Lithuania, from an area near …

Rutherford, James Luin “Skip” III

James Luin “Skip” Rutherford III, a native of Batesville (Independence County), is a long-standing figure in Arkansas politics, working as a key advisor on Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign and later serving as president of the Clinton Foundation and as dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. Rutherford also led the effort to plan the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park, which would garner him several awards. Skip Rutherford was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 28, 1950, the only child of James Luin Rutherford Jr. and Kathleen Roberson Rutherford. Rutherford grew up in Batesville and graduated from Batesville High School in 1968. He went on to attend the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington …