Educators and Administrators

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Moore, Bessie Grace Boehm

Bessie Boehm Moore was an educator and civic leader. She was widely known for her efforts in the promotion of libraries. Later in life, her focus was on economic education in the public schools and the creation of what is now the Ozark Folk Center State Park. She was inducted into the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2018. Bessie Grace Boehm was born on August 2, 1902, in Owensboro, Kentucky, to Edgar Boehm, a farmer, and Bessie Calloway Boehm, a homemaker. Her mother died a few hours after her birth. Boehm was taken to her aunt in Daviess County, Kentucky, where she lived until her father remarried when she was nine. Boehm learned to read at an early age …

Mullins, David Wiley

David Wiley Mullins was a prominent and influential educator in Arkansas in the middle of the twentieth century. As president of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) for almost fifteen years, he played an important role in the development of the state university system during a period of extensive expansion and growth. David W. Mullins was born on August 11, 1906, in Ash Flat (Sharp County). The son of Roscoe Mullins and Emma Matilda Roberts Mullins, he grew up in Ash Flat before entering UA in 1927. Majoring in math and history, he graduated cum laude in 1931. He became a high school teacher in the Williford Consolidated Schools in 1931 and served as superintendent of the …

Nunn, Walter Harris

Walter H. Nunn was a respected teacher, scholar, and author whose books on Arkansas politics were well regarded and widely read. He was also one of the leading authorities on the Arkansas constitution and, in the 1970s, founded Rose Publishing Company, which was for a time the sole press devoted to Arkansas-related material. In addition, Nunn was a local organizer dedicated to the creation and maintenance of inclusive neighborhoods. Walter Harris Nunn was born in Monticello (Drew County) on February 17, 1942. His parents were Wallace Nunn, who worked as a cashier at a local cotton mill, and Ilene Wicker Nunn, a homemaker. He grew up in Crossett (Ashley County), where he attended the local schools. He earned a BA …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Salvest, John Joseph

John Joseph Salvest has gained national acclaim through his site-specific installations, object-based and performance art, and teaching. Salvest’s art is noted for exploring issues of time and mortality, the paradoxes of life, and the true and proverbial in literature. His success is evident through awards and solo exhibitions across the nation and a career that has spanned decades. Born on February 13, 1955, John Salvest was the oldest of three children born to John and Jeanne Salvest. He grew up in Kearny, New Jersey, and attended Regis High School in New York City, New York. He received a BA in English from Duke University in North Carolina in 1977, an MA in English from the University of Iowa in 1979, …

Sawyer, Sophia

Sophia Sawyer, an educator whose calling was to teach the Cherokee, founded the Fayetteville Female Seminary in 1839. This tireless educator was associated with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions of the Congregational Church. Sophia Sawyer was born May 4 or 5, 1792, in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Little is known of her parents, save for the fact that they were extremely poor farmers who eventually bought a farm in New Hampshire. She never married. Dr. Seth Payson, a Congregational clergyman from Rindge, New Hampshire, took Sawyer into his home as a housemaid after her parents died and sent her to school. Sawyer gained teaching experience in the Payson household, teaching basic education during the summer at Rindge but needed …

Sheehan, James Murray

James Murray Sheehan served as the first journalism instructor and first publicity director at University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), was editor of the Arkansas Traveler, and published two well-received novels, Half-Gods and Eden. Half-Gods, published in 1927, offered a scathing satire of Fayetteville and the university. Murray Sheehan was born to David Este Sheehan and Alfarata Winder Sheehan on December 15, 1887, in Hamilton, Ohio. Sheehan earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a master’s from Harvard University. Before coming to the University of Arkansas, he served as a sergeant major of artillery in the Sixth Division during World War I, worked as a newspaper reporter, and taught at the University …

Shepperson, Carrie Lena Fambro Still

Carrie Lena Fambro Still Shepperson was an African-American teacher and education advocate in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and the mother of composer and musician William Grant Still Jr. Carrie Fambro was born in 1872, near Milledgeville Georgia to Anne Fambro, a freedwoman. Little is known about her family. Her exact birth date, father’s name, and number of siblings are unknown. Encouraged by her mother to pursue her education, she graduated from Atlanta University in 1886. In 1893, while teaching at Alabama State Agricultural and Mechanical College, she met William Grant Still, a colleague who taught bookkeeping, instrumental music, and vocal music. Still was an 1892 graduate of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College at Lorman, Mississippi. The couple married and settled …

Smith, Eugene Wilson

Eugene W. Smith became a professor and administrator at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County), and his work was instrumental in gaining the institution university status. He was appointed president of ASU in 1984 and oversaw major expansions of the university’s physical plant, double-digit growth in enrollment, and the establishment of ASU’s first doctoral program. A native of Forrest City (St. Francis County), Eugene Wilson Smith was born on June 10, 1930, to Milton Samuel Smith II and Frank Leslie Wilson Smith; he had two siblings. His father and mother were longtime educators, serving as school superintendent and classroom teacher, respectively, in the Forrest City school system. Smith enjoyed fishing and quail hunting with his father and developed …

Smith, Norman Eugene

Norman Eugene Smith was a classically trained pianist and musicologist from Benton (Saline County). He spent most of his career as a professor of music at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, specializing in the study of early polyphonic (multiple melody) music and classical piano. His scholarly works focused on musical theory, particularly in music from the twelfth century. Norman Eugene Smith was born on November 4, 1931, the second son of Fred C. Smith and Ocie Clara Bryant Smith in Benton. As a young man, he began playing the piano. His teacher, Lorene Carson Houston, composed the Benton High School alma mater. Smith quickly became her protégé. As a member of Houston’s Junior Music Club at Benton Junior High, …

Smith, Willis S.

Dr. Willis S. Smith was a regionally significant teacher, sheriff, farmer, doctor, and writer in early southwestern Arkansas. Willis Smith was born on August 10, 1810, in Todd County, Kentucky, a frontier community. He was the fifth of twelve children of Millington Smith and Barbara Barton Smith. He was the grandson and namesake of Revolutionary War soldier Willis S. Smith, who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Smith had little opportunity for an education, and he could barely read or write even at twenty years of age. He left his home in Johnson County, Illinois, for Rock Springs Theological Seminary in Rock Springs, Illinois, where he received sufficient education to become a teacher at the school himself. One …

Southall, James Henry

James Henry Southall was a founding member of the Medical Department of Arkansas Industrial University, the precursor to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Southall was born on November 5, 1841, in Smithville, Virginia, the son and grandson of distinguished Virginia physicians. After the completion of his education and the interruptions of life caused by the Civil War, Southall moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) at a time when the local medical community was beginning to consider forming a medical school in the state. As with many physicians of his era, Southall had begun his medical education by reading medicine under the tutelage of a professional, Dr. Robert Tunstall of Norfolk, Virginia. He attended medical school at the …

Stephens, Charlotte Andrews (Lottie)

aka: Lottie Stephens
Charlotte Andrews Stephens was the first African-American teacher in the Little Rock (Pulaski County) school district. She worked as a teacher for seventy years, and Stephens Elementary School in Little Rock was named for her in 1910. In addition, she was the first African American to be accredited by the North Central Association and was a charter member of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) federated club in Little Rock. Lottie Andrews was born in 1854 in Little Rock to William Wallace Andrews, a “mulatto” slave to U.S. Senator Chester Ashley, and Caroline Williams Andrews, a slave to the Noah Badgett family. The system of urban slavery in Arkansas allowed the Andrews family special privileges. Andrews’s parents were both …

Stobaugh, Robert Blair

Robert Blair Stobaugh was an authority on energy, international business, and corporate governance who served as a professor in the Harvard Business School. His 1979 book Energy Future: The Report of the Energy Project led to significant initiatives in energy policy by the Carter administration and became a New York Times bestseller. His article “The Bent Measuring Stick of the Multinational Enterprise” was voted one of the twenty best articles ever published on international business. A federal judge once referred to him as “one of the nation’s foremost experts on corporate governance,” and was quoted on the front page of the Wall Street Journal several times. Robert Stobaugh was born on October 15, 1927, in McGehee (Desha County) to Robert …

Strong, Anna

Anna Strong was a noted African-American teacher and school principal in Marianna (Lee County). She also served one term as president of the Arkansas Teachers Association (ATA). Strong labored to provide quality education to the African-American citizens of Lee County and was widely recognized for her efforts. Anna Mae Paschal was born in rural Phillips County in 1884 to Chandler and Lucy Paschal. Her father, active in the Religious Society of Friends (generally known as Quakers), was listed in the 1880 census as a miller. Anna Paschal was the oldest of four children and helped her parents to raise her sister and brothers. She began her educational and religious training with the Quakers at the highly regarded Southland School at …

Sugg, Barney Alan

Barney Alan Sugg became a leader in higher education in the latter part of the twentieth century, serving in high-level positions at a number of southwestern colleges over the course of a career that spanned almost four decades and included over twenty years as president of the University of Arkansas System. B. Alan Sugg was born on April 29, 1938, in Helena (Phillips County). His father, Bernard (Barney) Sugg, was school superintendent in Barton (Phillips County), while his mother, Louise Sugg, was a schoolteacher. Sugg had an older sister and two younger brothers. He graduated from Helena’s Central High School in 1956 and then enrolled in the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Sugg—who had been the high …

Sumner, Francis Cecil

Francis Cecil Sumner was the first African American to receive a PhD in psychology in the United States and has been acknowledged as the “father of black American psychologists.” His career featured pioneering work concerning equality and racial justice in education, and he furthered the development of future generations of black psychologists. Francis Cecil Sumner was born on December 7, 1895, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), one of two sons of David Alexander Sumner and Ellen Lillian Sumner. (While little is known about his parents, they are believed to have adopted the surname Sumner in honor of Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner, one of the Senate’s leading opponents of slavery and a major post–Civil War Radical Republican.) He received his elementary …

Sykes, Curtis Henry

Curtis Henry Sykes was a pioneering educator, community leader, and historian from the Dark Hollow community in North Little Rock (Pulaski County). Remembered as a “champion for justice, equality and motivation,” Sykes served as one of the first black principals in the Little Rock School District in the 1960s before the district became fully desegregated. He was also a driving force in legislation requiring the teaching of African-American history in Arkansas public schools. Curtis Sykes was born on December 21, 1930, to Clarence Jerrod and Arlene Sykes Jerrod at the home of his grandparents, Lee Andrew Sykes and Ella Sykes, on Pine Street in Dark Hollow. Lee and Ella Sykes adopted Curtis following the death of his mother two years …

Thebom, Blanche

Blanche Thebom was a world-renowned operatic soprano, opera director, and educator. With her trademark six-foot-long hair, she was among the first American opera singers to have a highly successful international career, spending more than twenty years with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She also appeared in Hollywood feature films. Thebom conducted a groundbreaking tour of the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. After retirement from the Met, she brought her talents to Arkansas when she taught and directed opera productions at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) for almost a decade. The daughter of Swedish immigrants, Blanche Thebom was born in Monessen, Pennsylvania, on September 19, 1915. She was raised in Canton, …

Tribou, George

Father George William Tribou was an influential figure in Catholic educational and community affairs in Arkansas, primarily through his position as principal and rector of Catholic High School for Boys in Little Rock (Pulaski County). George Tribou was born in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, on April 14, 1924, to George and Mary Tribou. His father was an electrician, and his mother was a waitress; he had two sisters. After high school, he entered seminary in Philadelphia and completed the equivalent of a college curriculum. Area seminaries in the Northeast were rather crowded, so he relocated to St. John Catholic Seminary in Little Rock to complete his education for the priesthood. He was ordained as a Catholic priest on September 1, 1949. His …

Turner, Grover White “Buddy,” Jr.

G. W. “Buddy” Turner Jr. was an influential member of the Arkansas House of Representatives in the latter part of the twentieth century who helped shape state policy throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Grover White Turner Jr. was born on August 15, 1923, in Thornton (Calhoun County) to Grover White Turner and Ollie Robinson Turner. He grew up in Rison (Cleveland County), where he helped his family on the farm his father had bought during the Great Depression. In addition to picking and chopping cotton on the farm, he worked at the family store, which, in addition to a sawmill, his father had also acquired. Eventually, Turner became an accomplished meat cutter. By the time he graduated from Rison …

Vance, Rupert Bayliss

Rupert Bayliss Vance was a sociologist on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), who, along with fellow sociology faculty member Howard Odum, established the field of “regional sociology”—in their case, an extensive study of the South. The two helped provide a progressive counterweight at UNC in the 1930s to the conservative agrarian philosophy centered with the faculty at Vanderbilt University and expressed in their collection of essays I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition (1930). Rupert B. Vance was born on March 15, 1899, in Plumerville (Conway County), the oldest of four children of Walter Vance and Mary Bayliss Vance. Walter Vance owned a general store, though the Vances lived on …

Washburn, Cephas

Cephas Washburn was a Presbyterian missionary who helped found Dwight Mission to serve the Cherokee. Washburn, who struggled along with his colleagues to bring Christianity to Native Americans on the territorial Arkansas frontier, served as an educator and minister for four decades. Cephas Washburn was born on July 25, 1793, in Randolph, Vermont, to Josiah Washburn and Phebe Cushman Washburn, who were farmers. Washburn turned from farming to education when he feared he might be disabled permanently from a broken leg. While teaching in Groton, Massachusetts, in the winter of 1814–1815 to raise money for further education, he became a Congregationalist and soon decided he wanted to be a missionary to the Indians. After graduating from Vermont University in 1817, …

Watkins, Claibourne

Claibourne Watkins was one of three native Arkansan founders of the Medical Department of the Arkansas Industrial University, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Watkins was born on March 3, 1844, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the second son of George Claibourne Watkins and Mary Crease Watkins. His father was state attorney general and chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. He had two brothers: Colonel Anderson Watkins, who was killed at Atlanta during the Civil War, and Captain Walton Watkins. Watkins was educated in a number of institutions, both private and public. The Civil War broke out just prior to his completing his undergraduate degree at St. Timothy’s Hall in Cantonsville, Maryland. A Southerner by birth and …

Watson, Edomae Boone

Edomae Boone Watson was a prominent African-American civic and education leader in Jonesboro (Craighead County). In addition to being an educator in Jonesboro’s segregated and then integrated school system, she also played a pivotal role in developing the Head Start program in Jonesboro. She served in state and national organizations to secure funding to provide early-childhood education opportunities for low-income children in Jonesboro. Edomae Boone was born on April 2, 1907, near Augusta (Woodruff County). She obtained a high school diploma from Shorter College, then in Little Rock (Pulaski County), one of the few places in Arkansas that provided diplomas to black students. She received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal School in Pine …

Watson, Hattie Rutherford

aka: Harriet Louise Gertrude Rutherford Watson
Harriet Louise Gertrude (Hattie) Rutherford Watson was an educator, librarian, and prominent member of the social and education communities in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). She and her husband, John Brown Watson, were activists for the African-American community during the early twentieth century. Hattie Rutherford was born November 23, 1885, in Rome, Georgia, as part of the black elite in the post-bellum era. She was the elder daughter of Samuel W. and Mary Anne Lemon Rutherford. Her father founded the National Benefit Life Insurance Company in 1898. Rutherford acquired an elementary education in the public schools of Atlanta and a high school diploma at Spelman Seminary. She completed her college work at Spelman College and was the only graduate from that …

Watson, John Brown

John Brown Watson was president of Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College (AM&N), now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), from 1928 until his death in 1942. Watson was a member of the first generation of black Americans born after the Civil War and representative of that demographic among his cohorts, identified as what Professor Willard B. Gatewood Jr. called “aristocrats of color.” Watson was born near Tyler, Texas, on December 28, 1869, to Crystal and Frank Watson; he was named for the antebellum abolitionist John Brown. Educated near his home, Watson passed the county teacher examination in 1887 and taught  for two years. He entered Bishop College at Marshall, Texas, in 1891 at the seventh grade level and …

Wells, Ira James Kohath

A pioneer in education and journalism, Ira James Kohath Wells was a gifted scholar, businessman, and humanitarian with humble rural beginnings. Ira J. K. Wells was born in Tamo (Jefferson County) on July 1, 1898, to William James Wells and Emma Brown Wells. When he was young, half of his leg was amputated after he injured it trying to hop on to a moving freight train. For the rest of his life, he had a wooden prosthetic leg. He finished his secondary education at Branch Normal College in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County)—now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB)—and then went on to earn a degree in business from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1923. Even as a student, …

West, Dan Carlos

Dr. Dan Carlos West served as president of Arkansas College, now Lyon College, from 1972 to 1988. As stated in Brooks Blevins’s history of the college, the physical and curricular changes, along with West’s administrative style, made his presidency “the most turbulent, the most exciting, the most confusing, [and] the most successful” time in the school’s history up to that point. Dan C. West was born on May 29, 1939, in Galveston, Texas, one of four children of Embry Carlos West and Mildred Louise Junker West. The family later moved to Dallas, Texas, where West attended Woodrow Wilson High School, graduating in 1957. He attended the University of Texas for a year and then went on to the U.S. Naval …

Williams, Hubert Ethridge (H. E.)

Hubert Etheridge Williams was a twentieth-century religious, educational, and civic leader. He founded what is now Williams Baptist University and made an unsuccessful race for the Democratic nomination for governor in 1960. In 1941, he became the youngest college president in the nation. Hubert Etheridge (H. E.) Williams was born on April 8, 1913, in Casa (Perry County) to Robert L. Williams and Anna Emma Williams. Robert Williams, who was a Baptist deacon, had progressive leanings, which he instilled in his son. Williams graduated from Casa High School and enrolled at Arkansas Polytechnic College—which later became Arkansas Tech University—in Russellville (Pope County). He also attended Ouachita Baptist College—which later became Ouachita Baptist University—in Arkadelphia (Clark County), and the George Peabody …

Williams, John Gilbert

A champion of the modern approach to architectural design, John Gilbert Williams was an architect, landscape architect, and the founding faculty member of the Department of Architecture at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). John G. Williams was born on April 30, 1915, in Van Buren (Crawford County) to Vera Jane Wallace Williams and Charles Bunyan Williams; he had one older brother. He studied engineering at Arkansas Polytechnic College (now Arkansas Tech University) in Russellville (Pope County) before pursuing his bachelor’s degree in architecture from Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Oklahoma State University). After graduating in 1940, he returned to Russellville to teach drawing and math at Arkansas Polytechnic College for two years. While in Russellville, he …

Williams, Robert Lee, II

Robert Lee Williams II was a leading figure in American psychology known for his work in the education of African-American children and in studying the cultural biases present in standard testing measures, especially IQ tests. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2011. Robert Lee Williams was born on February 20, 1930, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). His father, Robert L. Williams, worked as a millwright and died in 1935; his mother cleaned houses. He had one sister. He graduated from Dunbar High School at age sixteen and attended Dunbar Junior College for a year before dropping out, discouraged by his low score on an IQ test. He married Ava L. Kemp in 1948. They had …

Witte, Albert Matthew Francis

Albert Witte was a longtime professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville (Washington County) and a one-time president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). He also was a central figure in the hiring of Bill Clinton, fresh out of law school, to teach at the university. Albert Matthew Francis Witte was born on October 25, 1923, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Albert M. Witte and Sara E. Witte. He spent most of his youth in Erie, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Erie East High School and in 1942 enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He flew thirty-five missions as a second lieutenant bombardier with the Fifteenth Air Force in Italy during World War II, earning the …

Wroten, Joyce

Joyce Wroten was an influential figure in Arkansas higher education. After working in state government, including a stint on the staff of Governor Bill Clinton, Wroten moved to the University of Arkansas System, where she served as the chief lobbyist for three different UA System presidents. She also played a critical role in the development of legislation that put Arkansas’s share of the 1998 tobacco settlement into the state’s healthcare system. Joyce Ann Ussery was born on April 26, 1940, in Perry County to Robert and Vida Ussery. She grew up and attended school in Perryville (Perry County). Ussery married her childhood sweetheart, Jimmy Wroten, when she was sixteen; they had a daughter and a son. Settling in Little Rock …