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50th Anniversary of UCA & Academic College System

This year, 2019, is the 50th anniversary of the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) being structured along academic college lines. In 1969, the move was made to reorganize the twenty-one academic departments into four academic colleges, with an effective date of July 1, 1969.

Dr. Orville Rook became dean of the College of Science and Humanities; Dr. Conrad Carroll, dean of the College of Business; Dr. Jefferson Farris, Jr., dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts and Sciences; and Dr. Robert Morrow, dean of the College of Education. Dr. H. B. Hardy, Jr. became dean of undergraduate studies. The position of dean of the college was renamed vice president for academic and instructional affairs and dean of the faculty.

Before UCA had academic colleges, there was only one dean. The first person to have the title of dean was Andrew Jackson (A. J.) Meadors. Dean Meadors was born in Kentucky in 1868, and after receiving a Master of Arts degree in 1900 he came to Arkansas to teach for John James (J. J.) Doyne, (UCA’s first president) when Doyne was the head of the Lonoke, Arkansas School District.

In 1909, Meadors followed Doyne to Conway and was hired by the Arkansas State Normal School (first name of the University of Central Arkansas) and worked here until he died in 1942. Meadors Hall, which houses the Department of Military Science, was named in his honor. Dean Meadors was replaced by his son-in-law, Dr. W. C. Ferguson.

Dean Ferguson was married to Olive Meadors, the daughter of Dean A. J. Meadors, in 1931. Ferguson became a full time member of the faculty in 1939 and taught physical science. He became dean of men in 1940 and when his father-in-law died in 1942, he was made dean of the college.

Dean Ferguson passed away in 1954 after suffering several months with an illness that proved fatal. Ferguson Chapel was named in memory of Dean Ferguson.

Dean Ferguson was replaced by Dr. Alger E. Burdick, the namesake of the Burdick building on campus that formerly housed the College of Business. After UCA was structured along university lines in 1969, Burdick was made vice president for academic and instructional affairs and dean of the faculty.

The first four college academic deans are shown in the attached photograph. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF THE SCROLL.