2012 Alumni Service Award
Karen Sullards was born on Nov. 17, 1950 in Little Rock. She is the only child of the late Sybil and Fletcher Sullards, both alumni of UCA. She spent her early years in Tupelo, Ark., with her mother while her father served in the Korean War. She was introduced to teaching while her mother taught in the 3-room Tupelo Elementary School. Karen loved to go to school during recess and ring the school bell.
When her father returned from Korea it was back to ASTC while her father finished his degree and Karen began her initial interaction with the university that would become an integral part of the life. During this time, Karen’s family lived in Wingo Hall and she attended the Irby School on the ASTC campus, ate breakfast in the bookstore (in the bottom Main) and waded in the fish pond in front of McAlister Hall. In 1955, Karen proudly walked across the stage in Ida Waldran and received her ASTC Baby of Arts degree (her first of three UCA degrees).
Karen’s early years were spent in southeast Arkansas where she attended school in Gillett and DeWitt then her family moved to Corning, where she graduated from high school in 1968. In the summer of 1968 it was off to college at then State College of Arkansas to major in political science. Three and a half years later, she graduated with a BSE in elementary education. After graduation, her long career in Arkansas education began. In 1975, she returned to receive her 3rd degree from UCA, a MSE in early childhood and over the last decades has return to UCA for administration certification and professional development.
Her 38 years of teaching began Hughes, Ark., the only place she ever taught other than the Pulaski County Special School District. In PCSSD she was a teacher, instructional specialist, assistant principal and principal. She was honored in 2000 as the PTA Administrator of the Year and won the 2008 Bobby G. Lester Excellence in Education Award for Administration. Karen retired in 2009 and began working for Arkansas school improvement. She currently serves as a capacity builder for the Arkansas Leadership Academy and works for the Arkansas Department of Education as a school improvement director.
Over the last 40 years, Karen has maintained a close relationship with UCA and the alumni association. She was elected to her first term on the alumni board in 1985. During this time, her father was serving as the president of the alumni board. In 2003, she was elected to the alumni board and served two consecutive terms. Karen was once again elected to the alumni board in the spring of 2011 and now serves vice president. During her tenure on the board she has served on both the events committee and scholarship committee. She in very involved in the alumni association scholarship program because she believes it is the purpose of a university to educate a student and alumni association scholarships help young adults achieve their degrees. She maintains a relationship with the Association of Future Alumni because she believes they are the future of the alumni association. Additionally, Karen has represented the alumni association on the UCA Foundation Board and continues to serve the university in any capacity needed.