UALR Mourns Loss of Higher Ed Pioneer, Dr. Dorothy Truex

UALR is mourning the loss of former university Vice Chancellor Emerita of Student Affairs Dorothy Truex—at one time the highest-ranking female college administrator in the state. She died April 18 at age 97.

Truex was a pioneer who not only advocated for women’s rights throughout her life but also minority access to higher education.

“Dr. Truex was a trailblazer in higher education across the nation,” said Vice Chancellor for Educational, Student Services and Student Life Dr. Charles W. Donaldson, who followed in Truex’s footsteps.

Donaldson added: “Her example gave many women and minorities the inspiration to aspire to leadership, and her impact is still being felt today. She was a great mentor and a woman of many accomplishments. She will be sorely missed.”

Truex was so well recognized that Gov. Bill Clinton had proclaimed April 8 as Dorothy Truex Day—not the first time Truex was feted by a government official.

In 1974, when she left the University of Oklahoma after 27 years to accept her new post at UALR, Oklahoma Gov. David Hall called Truex one of his state’s “greatest natural resources” and declared her last day there as Dorothy Truex Day.

Truex said that her decision to come to UALR was motivated in part on the university’s great potential for growth and the progressive-minded nature of its administration.

Once at UALR, Truex worked tirelessly to provide leadership for students and her newly adopted hometown. She diligently led all of UALR’s extracurricular services and programs, including student development programs, student organization advising, financial aid, counseling, health services, placement, and Student Union programs.

Among her many campus achievements, Truex was instrumental in founding the highly successful Chancellor’s Leadership Corps, a scholarship program offered to high school seniors demonstrating exemplary leadership skills in school and in the community.

As a former president of the National Association of Women Deans and Counselors in the early 1970s, as well as national adviser to the Intercollegiate Association of Women Students, Truex rarely avoided hot-button issues of the day, including access to equal pay for women.

Beyond the UALR campus, Truex was an honorary lifetime member of the American Association of University Women. She continued to serve and support the Little Rock branch, even hosting a recent AAUW Afternoon Book Club.

Truex also co-founded and served as the first president of the Arkansas Council of Women in Higher Education (ACWHE), created as a support group for Arkansas women in higher education. In 2011, she was among the organization’s first honorees of an award established to recognize members who had made significant contributions to the group.

Dr. Sandra Robertson, director of budget, planning, and institutional research at UALR, was honored at the same time as Truex, her long-time mentor. She said Truex wasn’t afraid to lead without sacrificing her feminine side.  

Truex was “smart, funny, tough, and willing to speak her mind, even in a room full of men,” according to Robertson. “She taught me the value of humor in all that we do and how to live and die with grace. I will miss her and her wise counsel, which she provided even at age 97.”

Following her retirement in 1985, Truex authored numerous fictional works mostly focused on the lives of strong women and based on her life experiences. She was also a prize-winning competitive ballroom dancer.

Ever committed to her last full-time employer, Truez was a long-time contributor to UALR’s annual fund, The Fund for UALR.

Truex earned her doctorate in student personnel administration from Columbia University in New York. She earned a master’s degree in educational guidance and counseling from the University of Missouri and a bachelor’s degree in English from William Jewell College in Missouri.

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