The rumors of my retirement are no longer exaggerated. My last day as Director was June 30th. I am feeling some separation anxiety, and leaving the best job an academic could ever have is bitter sweet, but half a century of full time teaching and a quarter century directing arguably one of the best honors programs anywhere seem sufficient. I am looking forward to the next phase of my life.
Until my successor is selected (probably for a year), Dr. Simon Hawkins of the UALR Anthropology Department will serve as Interim Program Director (we have attached his bio and resume). Dr. Scott and I both wholeheartedly support the selection of Dr. Hawkins. He is a smart guy, and he loves students. I hope you will make a special effort to meet him. You will like him. There are tentative plans to have an alumni event in the late summer or early fall; that will give you a chance to meet him.
My ultimate successor will be Dean of the UALR Honors College (tentatively planned to begin in the fall of 2015) as well as Director of the Donaghey Scholars Program. The Scholars Program will be included in the honors college, but the Program will remain intact and exactly as it now is. The Program will keep its current extraordinary funding and will remain one of UALR’s crown jewels. New honors tracks will be added to expand UALR’s honors offerings.
We fully expect these transitions to be smooth. Indispensable to our continuity over the next couple of years will be Dr. Jessica Scott. I am glad to report that Dr. Scott is now Assistant Director of the Donaghey Scholars Program. Her talents, skills, and dedication to the Program are unrivaled. Possibly the best thing I ever did as Director was hiring her.
As I leave, I think I can honestly say that the Program has never been stronger. Recruitment this year went exceedingly well. We had 144 applicants (our previous record was 110), we interviewed 82 of them (our previous record was 81), and 29 of the 33 to whom we made offers accepted. Those 29 will constitute one of our two largest beginning groups, and they could become our best group ever.
This year’s graduates were themselves impressive. Among them was our twenty-second consecutive Whitbeck winner, Mackie O’Hara. Among many of Mackie’s achievements was her selection as a National Science Foundation Fellow (one of only two undergraduates in Arkansas to win this coveted award). Ably mentored by Dr. Scott, Mackie will use her $32,000 annual stipend to do a PhD in biological anthropology at Ohio State.
I leave with only one mild regret. As most of you will remember, one purpose of the Jubilee was to raise funds for a lecture series in my honor—the C. Earl and Kathy Ramsey Distinguished Lecture Series. (I did not want a lecture series named after me, but the other members of the Jubilee planning group unanimously out voted me). As you may also remember, my wife and I offered to match your contributions, in tiered amounts, up to $50,000. Initially, to receive our full match, we asked that your contributions total $150,000, and we set a date of July 1st, 2013. We fell far short of our goal. So I now agree to match your contributions, dollar for dollar, up to $50,000. And we are establishing a new deadline of December 1st, 2014. As I previously suggested, you might want to consider a contribution or pledge equal to 1% of your annual income. More would certainly be welcome. In any event, you should not leave money on the table!
Gifts can be made online at ualr.edu/development; by check made payable to UALR Foundation (please note “Ramsey Fund” on the memo line) and mailed to UALR, Office of Development, 2801 S. University Ave., Little Rock, AR 72204; or you can call Mary Boaz at 501-569-8738 if you have questions or would like to make a pledge or discuss other giving options.
As I bid you farewell, I hope you will not forget me. I will not forget any of you! I plan to remain in Little Rock. I hope to see many of you again over the next few years. Keep the faith!
C. Earl Ramsey