Bonner Named UCA Distinguished Alumnus

Tom Bonner, a former local TV personality for KARK-TV in Little Rock and senior vice president at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, has been selected as the 2010 recipient of the University of Central Arkansas Distinguished Alumnus Award.

In August, the UCA Board of Trustees approved a resolution to recognize Bonner with the award. Bonner, a 1959 graduate, will be formally honored during UCA Homecoming Week, Oct. 24-30.

He will be presented the Distinguished Alumnus medallion and a plaque will be unveiled during the Half-Century Club Induction Ceremony and Brunch at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30. Later that afternoon, Bonner will be joined by fellow members of the Class of 1959 on the football field at the UCA vs. Southeastern Louisiana game for a halftime celebration.

The award recognizes alumni who have made an outstanding contribution to the university, community, state or society, who possess a reputation that enhances the university and serves as an example to students.

“Tom Bonner is truly one of UCA’s most distinguished graduates and an Arkansas celebrity of the first order,” said Dr. Rollin Potter, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication. “Tom has contributed his talents and time to thousands yearly, both in his profession and as an outstanding friend and colleague to many. He is truly deserving of this recognition.”

Bonner was born in Memphis and lived with his parents and two younger brothers in Blackton, Ark. (Monroe County) until he was 17. At that time, he enrolled at Arkansas State Teachers College in Conway, now the University of Central Arkansas, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree.

In 1961, he joined KARK-TV in Little Rock where he was part of the all-time top rated news and weather teams for more than three decades. This culminated with his service as the station’s executive vice president and station manager.

In 1997, he joined Arkansas Children’s Hospital as the director of public affairs and started successful efforts leading to more national and international recognition of the important and groundbreaking medical services available. He is now senior vice president of administration and continues to be an innovative leader.

The hospital is now a regular contributor of stories for the major national network news divisions as well as the Discovery Channel and other well-respected cable channels. Most recently, NBC’s Dateline news program featured Arkansas Children’s Hospital in January 2010 with follow-up coverage on the Today show and TLC Network.

Bonner has also offered his talents to UCA in many ways including serving as master of ceremonies at the Reynolds Performance Hall opening, as a member of the James Bridges Scholarship committee and as a member of the College of Fine Arts and Communication Advisory Board.

Bonner will be the 25th recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus award joining the ranks alongside best-selling author Dee Brown, five-time NBA All-Star Scottie Pippen, J.B. Hunt Transport Co-Founder Johnelle Hunt, former U.S. Department of Education Deputy Secretary Ray Simon and Pulitzer Prize-nominated photographer Will Counts.