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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Larson bronze bust unveiled amid family, supporters

A commemorative bronze bust honoring the university’s first president was unveiled for an appreciative audience gathered on the first floor lobby in UALR’s Student Services Center Thursday, Sept.19.

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

Larson bronzeThe bust, created by renowned sculptor David Deming, was unveiled with assistance from Larson’s grandson, Bo Larson, who said his grandfather never stopped pursuing his dream of higher education in central Arkansas.

“He is a legend,” UALR Chancellor Joel E. Anderson said. “For many years, John Larson was Little Rock Junior College. He was a forward-thinking visionary who understood the benefit of obtaining higher education.”

“Larson is our George Washington,” said Vice Chancellor for Alumni and Development Bob Denman. “I challenge you to look around today and see what his legacy has become.”

In attendance were Marnette Ragon and Beverly Speck, both 1949 graduates of Little Rock Junior College who were enrolled in courses during Larson’s tenure.

“For him to dream of having a school like this and to develop it for our area – he wouldn’t believe it if he were here seeing this now,” said Ragon. “So many would not have gotten an education if it were not for his vision.”

“I think he would be so proud,” said Speck. “After all, he founded this school. This place wouldn’t be here without him.”

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