President Tom Courtway was appointed the 10th president of the University of Central Arkansas by the UCA Board of Trustees in December 2011. Courtway was serving as interim president when appointed.
UCA first hired Courtway as general counsel in 2002. He left in late 2003 to serve as interim director of the Arkansas Department of Education and returned to UCA as general counsel in 2004. In December 2005, Courtway became vice president of Hendrix College in Conway until August 2006, when he returned to UCA as vice president and general counsel.
Highlights of Courtway’s service as president include the 50,000-square-foot expansion to the Lewis Science Center, including a three-story addition with teaching, learning and research areas, the expansion of the Health Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) Center Complex, including the addition of a pool and racquetball courts and doubling the size of the weight rooms, the beginnings of the Donaghey Corridor project, a 67,500-square-foot, four-story building located on the corner of Bruce Street and Donaghey Avenue, which will be used for retail and residence space, and the impressive completion of the Greek Village project, which houses five sororities on campus and includes a Greek Community Center, which consists of public spaces for members of all Greek organizations, office space, chapter rooms for National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) fraternities and sororities, chapter rooms for smaller, non-NPHC fraternities.
Courtway practiced law for several years in Arkansas. He worked with the Wright, Lindsey, & Jennings Law Firm in Little Rock from 1986 to 1993, when he moved to Conway to establish his own practice. In 1995, he joined the Brazil Law Firm in Conway, and in 2000, opened the Courtway & Osment Law Firm in Conway where he remained until 2002.
Courtway served in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1995 to 2001. During his time representing District 45, he chaired the Revenue and Tax Committee. He also served on the Agriculture & Economic Development Committee, the Judiciary Committee, and the Insurance & Commerce Committee.
He worked in Washington D.C. as a legislative aide for U.S. Senators Dale Bumpers and David Pryor from 1979 to 1982 and from 1983 to 1986 respectively.
Courtway earned a bachelor of arts degree in economics and business from Hendrix College in 1974, a juris doctorate with honors from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1978, and an M.L.T. from Georgetown University in 1983.
Courtway was born in Wynne, Arkansas. He graduated from Conway High School in 1971. His father, Bob, taught at Hendrix College for close to 30 years, and his mother, Betty, was a public school kindergarten teacher.
Dr. Allen C. Meadors was the ninth president of the University of Central Arkansas (UCA). He was the third alumnus of UCA to serve as president; the first being Silas D. Snow who served from 1953 to 1975, and the second was Dr. Jefferson D. Farris, 1975 to 1986. Dr. Meadors received a bachelor of business administration degree from UCA in 1969. He obtained a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Northern Colorado and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas. He also holds two master’s degrees from Webster University, one in psychology and human relations and one in health services management. Meadors received a Ph.D. in administration and education from Southern Illinois University in 1981. Before returning to his alma mater as president, Dr. Meadors was chief executive officer at Penn State University Altoona from 1994 to 1999, and was Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke from 1999 to 2009. He began serving as the president of UCA on July 1, 2009. He resigned on September 2, 2011, and was succeeded by Tom Courtway, who was later named the tenth president of UCA.
After President Thompson resigned the presidency he was replaced on an interim basis on December 21, 2001 by Dr. John Smith, vice-president of financial services. Smith served in this capacity until September 22, 2002. Hardin took the reins at UCA on September 23, 2002. He has a Bachelor of Arts with high honors from Arkansas Tech University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas Law School. Hardin served as an Arkansas State Senator for 14 years and was chairman of the Senate Education Committee and also served on the Joint Budget Committee and Legislative Council. He chaired the Arkansas Advisory Council for Vocational Education and served 12 years as a Professor of Legal Studies at Arkansas Tech University. In addition, he was a trial attorney for 10 years. Prior to becoming UCA’s eighth president, Hardin was Director of the Department of Higher Education for six years.
Winfred L. Thompson
After the resignation of President Farris, Bill Pate became interim president and served from December 1, 1986 until December 31, 1987. Pate’s successor as interim president was H.B. Hardy who assumed the duties of interim president on January 1, 1988 and served until March 31, 1988. Winfred Thompson officially began his duties as UCA’s seventh president on April 1, 1988. Thompson has the distinction of being UCA’s second long-serving president, second only to Silas Snow. Thompson came to UCA from the University of Arkansas where he was a vice-president. His presence on campus became known rather quickly as he began transforming the campus with the addition of several new buildings. In fact, during Thompson’s administration there was $125 million in new construction and renovation of existing facilities. Also to Thompson’s credit UCA received two doctoral programs, one in school psychology and one in physical therapy. He also was proud to have increased student enrollment while simultaneously increasing UCA’s ACT scores. Thompson left UCA on December 21, 2001.
Jefferson D. Farris
Snow’s successor, Jeff Farris Jr., already had strong ties to UCA through his father Jeff Farris Sr., who taught physical education at UCA from 1943 to 1961. The younger Farris began his duties as president of UCA on July 1, 1975. However, his inauguration as president did not take place until March 24, 1976. During his tenure as president UCA’s student population increased from 4,759 to 6,425. Farris stated he was most proud of instituting a selective admissions policy for freshmen, creating the state’s first Honors College, establishing the state’s first computerized library, the creation of the UCA Press and establishing the Presidential Scholar award. According to the October 2, 1986 edition of THE ECHO, UCA’s student newspaper, his main ambition was to leave UCA a stronger institution. Farris came to UCA in 1961 as chairman of the health and physical education department. He also served as the first dean of the College of Fine Arts and Sciences. Farris resigned the presidency after 11 years on December 1, 1986.
Silas D. Snow
Silas Snow has the distinction of being UCA’s longest serving president. He became president on October 29, 1953 and served until June 30, 1975. It has been said of Snow that he personally hired every faculty and staff member from the day he was hired until he retired. UCA went through two name changes while Snow was president. When he became president UCA was known as Arkansas State Teachers College or ASTC. This institution operated under the ASTC banner longer than any other of its four names. Snow said the name implied that the institution was primarily a “teacher” institution to the exclusion of other fields of study. Snow lobbied to have ASTC’s name Changed to State College of Arkansas, in order to portray the school as broader in scope than just a teachers college. The name change was effective on January 18, 1967 when ASTC officially became State College of Arkansas. Snow also saw to it the the school would change names once more before he left his position.
He campaigned hard for the name change and after careful scrutiny by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education the change in name was recommended. On January 21, 1975 State College of Arkansas became the University of Central Arkansas. Snow served UCA until June 30, 1975.
Nolen M. Irby
Dr. Irby was recommended to become ASTC’s fourth president by General Heber L. McAlister. Irby also had a military background and had served in the United States Army from June 1914 to January 1919. He had risen to the rank of captain and was a training officer throughout World War I. Irby completed his Ph.D. at Peabody and was very concerned about education in rural areas. In 1940 Irby was professor of psychology at the University of Georgia when President F. D. Roosevelt appointed him to the advisory council on education. When Col. McAlister resigned in 1941, he recommended that the board hire Irby to replace him. Irby was inaugurated as president on November 14, 1941. He was greatly concerned about the quality of education in Arkansas and emphasized the training of teachers for rural schools. Dr. Irby remained president until he submitted his resignation on march 31, 1953 with an effective date of July 1, 1953.
Heber L. McAlister
Heber McAlister was an officer in the National Guard, and was at the rank of Colonel when he became UCA’s third president. His military career began in 1906, and he served on the staff of General “Black Jack” Pershing during World War I. Col. McAlister was very popular and well-known president, and was heavily involved in community affairs. He was very devoted to his country and the military, and gave presentation of area schools on patriotism, what it means to be an American, and U.S. flag etiquette. McAlister became UCA’s third president on July 1, 1930 and would remain president until it became obvious the U.S. would soon be involved in a major war. McAlister was granted a 12-month leave when he was called up for active duty with the 153rd Regiment. Since his military commitment would exceed 12 months he resigned the presidency on July 26, 1941. He rose to the rank of Brigadier General and was sent with his regiment to Alaska.
Burr Walter Torreyson
John James Doyne
J.J. Doyne, as he was popularly known, was UCA’s first president. He was also UCA’s first employee. Even though the Arkansas State Legislature created UCA in 1907, it was not until 1908 that UCA actually became an operating institution. Doyne was officially hired on July 1, 1908, and was given a two-year contract at $2,500 per year. Doyne remained president of what was then Arkansas State Normal School (ASNS), until 1917.
* Content taken from UCA History @ uca.edu/archives