Despite wintry conditions outside, a throng of well wishers warmly celebrated Vice Chancellor Emeritus Dr. Charles W. Donaldson on Friday, Feb. 28, at UALR.
The gathering to honor Donaldson centered on the unveiling of the newly renamed UALR Charles W. Donaldson Student Services Center.
Donaldson–who retired as vice chancellor of UALR’s Division of Educational, Student Services, and Student Life in July 2013–joked that the occasion was fraught with some misunderstandings that the honor may have meant his demise.
“I even had one friend, a chancellor, who said that he had never had a building named after him. I explained he wasn’t as good as I was,” Donaldson tesased, giving the over-capacity crowd a laugh.
Despite the levity, there were moments of great earnestness, as well.
“Everyone knew that when Dr. Donaldson said students are the most important people on campus, he meant it,” said UALR Student Government Association President Lauren McNeaill.
“In Dr. Donaldson, we had a man who could laugh, joke, and have a good time, but who was always serious about his work to help students excel,” said UALR Chancellor Joel E. Anderson.
“In short, we had a man with conviction but without guile,” Dr. Anderson said.
“For what will I be known when I am no longer here? … I leave knowing I left a legacy of which I am proud,” said Donaldson, who ended by quoting scripture: “To God be the glory for the things He hath done.”
Donaldson’s work in student programs and services has served as a model for many campuses across the nation over the course of his 40-year career in higher education.
His leadership contributed to $70 million in campus building projects for UALR students. Chief among them was the construction of the Student Services Center, which opened in fall 2012 to provide students a central location for admission, registration, financial aid, and academic counseling.
Donaldson earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Philander Smith College, a Master of Education in counseling from Arkansas State Teachers College (now University of Central Arkansas), and a Doctor of Education in counseling from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
He also completed the prestigious Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University.