The SSC gets a new name, legendary leader honored in ceremony
When the curtains fell from the Student Services Center on Friday, Feb. 8, a new name was revealed above it. It was none other than the name of the emeritus Vice Chancellor of Student Services and Student Life – Charles W. Donaldson.
The event was forced inside the building’s auditorium due to rainfall. To start the ceremony, Chancellor Joel Anderson emphasized the rarity of a building dedication ceremony.
“There’s no more appropriate building on campus to name for Dr. Donaldson because this building is part of his vision for student services,” Anderson said. “It’s a physical representation of all that he and those that he led had sought to achieve. It’s convenient, it’s friendly and it provides efficient services to help students succeed at reaching the goal of graduating with a college degree.”
Donaldson received congratulations from a number of prominent figures in the field of Student Success. Dr. John Gardner, an expert on first-year college experience, sent regards to Donaldson. Vincent Tinto, another national leader whose focus is student retention, also sent congratulatory words.
Following Anderson was SGA President Lauren McNeaill, who provided an introduction of the legendary leader.
“As a result of your dedication,” said McNeaill to Donaldson, “we have many programs and series and facilities that many did not expect to flourish and thrive on this campus. Student housing is an example ¾ the dining facilities, the Student Success Initiatives, a thriving campus life, Greek life, a robust student government…”
Those accomplishments, among others, are credited to Donaldson’s 40 years of services to UALR.
As Donaldson approached the podium, he was met with a flood of applause. In a show of humility, however, Donaldson said the honor was one he had never imagined and that his motive has always been his students’ success.
“My work has never about honors accolades but making a difference in the lives of people that I encountered,” Donaldson said. “From day to day each of us should ask ourselves, ‘What is my legacy? For what will I be known when I am no longer here?’”
“I leave knowing that I’ve left a legacy for which I am proud.”
Donaldson didn’t leave without telling the audience before telling a few funny stories though. He said that once the renaming of the building went public, Donaldson’s friend told him that he thought such honors were for dead people. Soon after that conversation, Donaldson said he saw his own obituary in the Arkansas-Democrat Gazette. He seemed to find it amusing that when he recounted the phone calls he received from those inquiring about his death.
Lastly, Donaldson said he started to become weary of the situation when it interrupted plans for his overseas trip. When he provided his social security number to his cellphone service provider, they told him that the owner of that number was deceased.
After the roar of laughter from the audience finally silenced, Donaldson expressed his eternal gratitude to all those present before him.
The majuscule letters bearing Donaldson’s name can be viewed at both the front and rear entrance of the Student Service Center.