Founding Dean Dr. Mary Good left lasting legacy in Arkansas 

Dr. Mary Good

Dr. Mary Lowe Good, founding dean of the Donaghey College of Engineering and Technology (EIT) at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, passed away Wednesday, Nov. 20, in her sleep. Funeral services will be Nov. 25 and 26 at Pinecrest Funeral Home and Memorial Park. 

Dr. Good served as dean since the college’s founding in 1999 until her retirement in June 2011. She came to the university as a person with national stature in higher education, industry and government—a 46-year career in academia, corporate America, and public service. She served in scientific capacities in the administrations of four American presidents, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.

Dr. Good, with her shock of white hair, sensible shoes and commanding presence, gained a reputation as a no-nonsense dynamo who told legislators, governors, and a U.S. President that Arkansas’ future in the 21st century required a world-class engineering facility in the capital city and home-grown students to fill its classes.

With her impressive educational and career experience, it was no wonder that she left a lasting impact on the university, Little Rock, and the state. Under her leadership, EIT developed a national reputation for excellence for assembling a first-class faculty and graduates prepared to succeed in high-paying engineering and technology jobs. This created a major positive impact on economic development in central Arkansas.

“We have been very fortunate to have the benefit of Dr. Good’s leadership in establishing our College of Engineering and Information Technology,” said UA Little Rock Chancellor Christina Drale. “She brought us top-rated talent, industry and government partnerships, and a brilliant vision of what we could become as a center for research and education in the engineering field.

“The wonderful thing about Mary is that she took her role very seriously and made a personal connection with everyone affiliated with the college, from high ranking government sponsors to prospective students and families from remote locations. Creating success was personal for Mary and she never let us down. We will really miss her.”

Former President Bill Clinton, keynote speaker at the college’s 10th anniversary gala on Nov. 19, 2009, told a sold-out crowd at the Jack Stephens Center that the decision by UA Little Rock leaders to entice internationally renowned chemist Mary L. Good to be the inaugural dean of the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology will have a profound impact on the state of Arkansas.

“I think 50 years from now, when you look back, you might think that the establishment of the College of Engineering and Information Technology and the luring of this astonishing woman into this job may wind up being the most significant thing this institution has done since its creation,” Clinton said.

Honorary chairs for the gala were Thomas “Mack” McLarty, former White House chief-of-staff, and retired Acxiom chief executive officer Charles Morgan. Proceeds from the $250-a-plate gala helped to support the college. More than 500 local, state, and national business and scientific leaders  attended the reception and dinner in the Jack Stephens Center, just a block from the new six-story, state-of-the-art EIT building that would open in spring 2010.

Dr. Good led the development of the EIT curriculum with input from area engineering and technology employers, including  Acxiom, Southwest Power Pool, and Verizon Wireless, and SAIC. Over the years, these companies have supported the college’s programs and students through funding research and facilities and hiring students for both internships and career employment.

Dr. Mary Good (center) at the dedication of the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology in 2010.

In 2010, the Systems Engineering program was the top-ranked engineering program at a public university in the South by U.S. News & World Report.

In 2012, Dr. Good was one of five national dignitaries in education honored at the inauguration of the new U.S. News STEM Leadership Hall of Fame. She had a special interest in recruiting young women into engineering and other STEM careers through the Arkansas Women’s Foundation program, Girls of Promise. 

At the time of Mary’s retirement, Dr. Joel Anderson said, “In 10 years, she took EIT from concept to exceptional reality. With her unmistakable intellectual strength and well-known inability to take no for an answer, this hard-charging Arkansas woman was the ideal choice to serve as founding dean of EIT.”

Following retirement, Mary continued to serve as special advisor for economic development for Dr. Anderson. She donated her papers to the UA Little Rock Center for History and Culture. Archivists are currently processing her collection. 

A former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Dr. Good was the recipient of many awards, including the Vannevar Bush Award, the National Science Foundation’s highest honor; the National Science Foundation Distinguished Service medal; the American Chemical Society Priestley Medal, and was the sixth annual Heinz Award Winner. She was inducted in the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2015.

Her amazing life and career are chronicled on Encyclopedia of Arkansas and Wikipedia. The Arkansas Education Television Network created this video about Dr. Good when the network honored her as one of AETN’s Men and Women of Distinction which recognized Arkansans who have made a profound effect on the development of the state.

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