By Scarlet Sims
A new scholarship will fund a brighter future for history or English majors at the University of Central Arkansas and honor former professor Maurice Webb, who inspired his students for decades.
“I hope, year by year, that this scholarship helps a deserving student,” said Rosalie Sanderson, who started the scholarship with her husband Steve.
The Sandersons are UCA alumni. They said they want to honor Webb, who retired in 2004, and help students who might not otherwise have access to scholarships in history or English.
Steve Sanderson, who is president emeritus and senior advisor to the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, was named a distinguished alumni in 2008.
Rosalie Sanderson was a respected law professor and law librarian and authored many research and teaching articles. She was elected chairwoman of the Academic Law Library Section of the American Association of Law Libraries in 2001.
The Sandersons both graduated in 1971 with bachelor degrees in history. They met at UCA and have been married 42 years. UCA matters on many levels and its education is top end, both said.
The new scholarship, which was announced at a recent reception honoring donors and recipients, is meant to help future UCA students. The Sandersons hope to set an example for other alumni.
“You don’t have to be a Rockefeller to give to the place that gave you your start,” Rosalie Sanderson said.
“We want the scholarship to show how deeply we feel about UCA,” Steve Sanderson said.
The couple started working with UCA to create the Maurice Webb Scholarship about 18 months ago, Steve Sanderson said. This past summer, the scholarship was awarded for the first time.
Courtney Sithem, 21, of Conway, earned the first Webb scholarship. She is a senior history major working on two minors. She wants to teach at the high school level.
“It’s exciting we’ve got our first scholar,” Steve Sanderson said. “This is a big thing for us.”
The $1,000 Stithem received from the Webb scholarship will go toward buying textbooks, the cost of which aren’t covered by her other UCA scholarship, Stithem said.
“Without this, I probably would have had a harder time paying for textbooks,” Stithem said.
Stithem, who will have a fifth year at UCA because of her minors, said she hopes to get the scholarship again. The Sandersons said they plan to help UCA fundraise for the scholarship to bring it up to a $25,000 endowment level — the amount needed to make the scholarship permanent.
The Sandersons said they want the scholarship to reward deserving students, like Stithem. Stithem said she is grateful because not many scholarships are specifically for history or English majors.
During the 2012-2013 school year, the UCA Foundation awarded 398 scholarships from 170 named scholarship funds within the Foundation, according to UCA records. The Webb scholarship is among only five for either history or English.
The Sandersons said they wanted their scholarship to focus on students studying humanities because humanities, like English and history, give students an appetite for lifelong learning.
The scholarship is named for Webb, who was a strong influence on Rosalie Sanderson.
She learned to be a lifetime learner from her professor and friend, she said.
Webb taught Sanderson in 1967 when he was a first-time professor teaching a Western Civilization class and she was a freshman. That one class gave Sanderson a passion for learning, she said.
“We did a lot that was worthwhile, and it made a huge impression on us,” Rosalie Sanderson said. “He could engage students. He cared about whether they learned.”
Webb gave his students a “total experience in Western Civilization,” Sanderson said during the Foundation’s scholarship reception held at UCA on Thursday, Sept. 26. Webb taught students vocabulary, geography, drama, literature and current events.
Webb served with distinction as a faculty member in the History Department for 37 years. His students felt strongly about him and his course, Rosalie Sanderson said.
“Professor Webb by his hard work, dedication and skill in the classroom epitomizes what a college professor should be,” said a UCA Board of Trustee resolution that honored Webb in 2004.
Stithem said she wished Webb had been at UCA to be her teacher. She met him for the first time at the scholarship reception.
“He just seems like an extremely fun guy,” Stithem said.