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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

University founder to be honored with bronze bust unveiling Sept. 19

A commemorative bronze bust honoring the university’s founder and first president, John A. Larson, will be unveiled during a special ceremony at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept.19, in the UALR Student Services Center.

The bust, created by renowned sculptor David Deming, will be installed on the first floor. Deming holds a master’s degree from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and has been commissioned for work at universities and museums across the U.S.

Following the unveiling, the artist will present a public lecture titled “Classical Figures and Abstraction” at 7:30 p.m. in room 157 of the Fine Arts Building.

First graduating class of Little Rock Junior College

First graduating class of Little Rock Junior College

Larson founded Little Rock Junior College, now UALR, in 1927 after the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville discontinued its lower-level course offerings in Little Rock.

“John Larson was an advocate for students and understood the benefit of obtaining higher education to individuals, as well as to the greater community,” UALR Chancellor Joel E. Anderson said.

“Despite opposition, he worked to assure convenient access to college courses for the people in the state’s capital city.”

A native of Chanute, Kansas, Larson earned a master’s degree from the University of Chicago. He came to Little Rock in 1912 to teach and would eventually become principal of Little Rock High School.

Larson served as president of Little Rock Junior College from 1930 until his death in November 1949, shortly before completion of the campus where UALR now stands. UALR’s first building at its current location, Larson Hall, is named for the former president.

Larson was known for the firm, yet caring, way he interacted with students throughout his career. His son, John Jr., said his father saw himself “not as a classroom teacher but as each student’s friend and advisor as each one looked to his or her future.”

John Larson Jr. continued, “He was sometimes a disciplinarian but preferred to understand and encourage each of his students. Our family is very pleased to see how his friends and colleagues of all ages and experiences want to recognize him.”

For more information or to RSVP for the event, contact Peggy Mitchell-Ferris at 501.683.7063 or prmitchell@ualr.edu.