UCA News for Spring 1969

The news for the 1969 spring semester at State College of Arkansas (now the University of Central Arkansas) was that Peter Jennings spoke in Ida Waldran Auditorium.  Jennings, an ABC news commentator, described himself as a “foaming at the mouth liberal” when he addressed about 500 UCA students on February 5, 1969.  Jennings visit was courtesy of the UCA Student Senate, and was part of Jennings’ broader visit through several other states.

Jennings, a Canadian citizen, discussed the 1968 presidential election, and thought he would have voted for Hubert Humphrey, but liked George Wallace of Alabama.  According to The Echo, “He further explained that Wallace was the only candidate to tell it like it was.  His first speech of the campaign was the same as his last.”

Jennings said that Nixon needed to be given an opportunity to get his programs working before anyone passed judgement on his presidency. Jennings was not impressed with President Nixon’s choice of Spiro T. Agnew as his vice president.  According to The Echo, “Jennings wryly suggested that Spiro Agnew can and will grow into the job of vice president – in 15 or 16 years.”

Before he finished, Jennings made a comment about UCA’s president, Silas Snow.  Snow had given Jennings a tour of the campus.  According to The Echo, “He also remarked that Dr. Snow had left him with the impression that student-administration relations were just peachy keen at this friendliest place in Arkansas…that’s what it said on the place card.”  For years, UCA’s slogan was “The Friendliest College in Arkansas.”

Governor Winthrop Rockefeller asked nearly $7.1 million for UCA operations during the 1969 legislative session.  President Silas Snow was quoted by The Echo as saying, “The recommendation for SCA was the minimum amount that the commission judged was required to carry on the college’s programs and gear them to an anticipated increase in enrollment.”

In the spring of 1969, the new cafeteria named for dietitian Elizabeth L. Christian, began operation.  Students from Conway Hall, Hughes Hall and State Hall used the cafeteria.  The other cafeteria on campus was Commons Cafeteria, which fed students from the other residence halls. The building that once housed Commons Cafeteria is now known as McCastlain Hall.

Another well-known speaker to visit the UCA campus was Ralph Nader, an auto safety critic.  Nader was the author of a best-selling book, “Unsafe at Any Speed.” Nader, a lawyer, received his B.A. from Princeton in 1955, and an LLB from Harvard Law School in 1958. Nader spoke to a small crowd of about 200 people in Ida Waldran Auditorium on March 31, 1969.  The crowd had expected Nader to slam the automobile industry.  Instead, he attacked nuclear power plants.  At the time of his speech, Arkansas Power & Light (now known as Entergy Arkansas) was building a nuclear power plant near Russellville.

A new academic plan was available to any junior or senior in good standing.  The plan allowed a student to take a course under a credit, no-credit rule.  A grade of “D” was required to pass, but if the student made a “D” or above, the student was given credit for the course.  The actual grade made by the student was not figured into the student’s overall grade point average.

A bill to give State College of Arkansas (SCA) university status was defeated in the Arkansas House of Representatives.  Representative Charles Stewart of Fayetteville led the opposition.  Stewart complained that if SCA had received university status it would cause confusion due to the existence of the University of Arkansas, Arkansas State University and State University of Arkansas (the proposed name at the time for what was later UCA).

However, Representative Stewart did offer an amendment to change SCA’s name to Central State University.  The president of SCA, Silas Snow, did not want the name “central” used in the name.  Snow stated, “Our name did not just happen by chance.  It was carefully chosen with the aid of a study committee. SCA serves all of Arkansas.  We don’t want a name that connotes just Central Arkansas.”  Apparently, Snow changed his mind along the way.  State College of Arkansas became the University of Central Arkansas while Snow was still president on January 21, 1975.

The Board of Trustees approved the new health and physical education building.  According to The Echo, “The building is expected to cost $2,100,000.  It will have seating accommodations for 6,000 and its site will be on Bruce Street, west of the Science Building.”  That building is known today as the Jefferson D. Farris Center. Jefferson Farris Sr. was the head of the Department of Health and Physical Education from 1943 until his death in February 1961.  His son, Dr. Jefferson Farris Jr., succeeded him.

Spring 1969 seemed to be the time for well-known speakers and writers to visit UCA.  The author of the national best-seller, “True Grit” was here in March 1969.  Writer Charles Portis was quoted as saying, “Reviews haven’t changed him.  Having a lot of money has.”  Charles Portis, had a brother that attended UCA at the time and was a pre-med student, his name was Richard Portis. Charles Portis spoke to a small group at UCA and later autographed books for about 175 people in the Browsing Room of Torreyson Library.


***Image Courtesy of the 1969 Scroll – Governor Winthrop Rockefeller***