CHICAGO, IL – The HBCU Campaign Fund (HCF) announced the creation of the inaugural Dr. Lawrence A. Davis, Jr. Trailblazers of Higher Education Award among The Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders, a new honor that will recognize a current or retiring/retired president or chancellor that serves a historically black college or university (HBCU) or minority-serving institution (MSI) that uphold decade-long value and contributions to the field of higher education.

Receiving the inaugural award are retiring presidents Dr. Andrew Hugine, Jr. of Alabama A&M University, and Dr. William R. Harvey of Hampton University. Dr. Lawrence A. Davis, Jr. will also be among Hugine and Harvey to receive the honor.

The award will be named after the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s Chancellor Emeritus Dr. Lawrence A. Davis, Jr. The recipients will have advanced the mission to drive change and inspire others. The individual has proven their responsibilities for shaping policies, changing perspectives, and making decisions that affect millions of people life’s in the higher education space.

Dr. Lawrence A. Davis, Jr., Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

“This is a delightful time for us at HCF as we approach revealing the fifth class of honorees for the annual award recognition. As a student under Dr. Davis’ leadership, I appreciate all of his contributions to our beloved Dear Mother and am honored to acknowledge him in such a prestigious way,” said HCF President & CEO, Demetrius Johnson, Jr. “I commend Dr. Hugine and Dr. Harvey on a magnificent job well done for the roles that they’ve played at their institutions, and this could not be more than special to salute them for their leadership. We congratulate them both on their retirements and send our very best wishes.”

A native of Pine Bluff, Dr. Davis received his formal education at the Arkansas AM&N Laboratory and Merrill schools. A true believer in education, Dr. Davis attended Arkansas AM&N (now UAPB), University of Arkansas, and completed his doctorate degree at Iowa State University. Originally a teacher of Mathematics and Physics, Dr. Davis worked across the United States, from the halls of Mississippi Valley State University to the halls of NASA, before returning to his hometown to become a professor at UAPB. In 1991, Davis was named Chancellor of the university by Dr. B. Alan Sugg, former President of the U of A System. A published researcher, receiver distinguished alum awards from UAPB, U of A-Fayetteville, and Iowa State, and an active community member, Dr. Davis made UAPB athletics one of his many platforms during his tenure with the institution, and made many strides in the advancement and promotion of the various athletic programs the university operates. During his tenure, the football stadium and adjoining field house were constructed and completed, as well as the baseball complex and the UAPB Soccer Field. He led the university through a period of academic growth and spearheaded the accreditation and reaccreditation of various academic programs throughout the university. He also led the construction of three new academic buildings in the center of campus, as well as the renovation and construction of on-campus housing. After 21 years of leading the university, Dr. Davis retired in 2012.

The Annual Most Dominant HBCU Leaders Award & Class is a national recognition ranking that was created by the HBCU Campaign Fund, a non-profit that advocates for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs). The recipients are honored for their prominent and influential role in leadership and displays the characteristics of the responsibilities in the progression of effectively moving an institution forward.

The Class of 2022 is excepted to be announced early January.

About the HBCU Campaign Fund
The HBCU Campaign Fund (HCF) was founded in 2012 and is a non-profit educational organization that remains a strong advocate for students and higher education. The mission of HCF is to support the significance and raise funds for scholarships, programs, and for private and public HBCUs and MSIs. For more information, visit


PINE BLUFF, AR – Windgate Foundation awards the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) a two-year grant of $649,420 to support teacher preparation programs for students through its Educator Preparation Program.

The university will continue its improvements to the Educator Preparation Program (EPP), over the next two years, starting this fall by providing students with the knowledge and skills needed to be prepared for their first day in the classroom. The program aims to increase the number of high effective educators by supporting the implementation of evidence-based practices that prepare, develop, and strengthen the skills of UAPB students through the EPP’s transformative competency-based curriculum.

“We are deeply appreciative of the Windgate Foundation’s support for helping generate transformative work that impacts our education students,” said Dr. Wandell Newell, dean of UAPB’s School of Education.

This opportunity will serve to address many of the preparation and training issues we too often wrestle with in preparing the next generation of teachers,” said George Cotton, Sr., Vice Chancellor of Institution Advancement. “This funding can also serve as an institutional springboard in helping to carve out UAPB’s space as a go-to institution in making a difference in teacher preparation.”

This funds allow the university to develop, expand, and evaluate practices by providing education students with robust training, mentorship, academic supports and scholarships that will produce future high-quality teachers. The School of Education will help collect information about the program’s performance and provide important feedback to improve the educational experience for teacher candidates.

“Windgate is proud to be able to provide support to UAPB as they work to enhance and create greater educational opportunities for future teachers,” said Patricia M. Forgy, executive director for the Windgate Foundation. “We look forward to hearing of their successes and accomplishments in the coming years.”

“The Educator Preparation Program is another way we are showing our commitment to supply our students with innovative and aggressive preparation for successful careers,” said Laurence B. Alexander, UAPB Chancellor. “This initiative is aligned with UAPB’s vision to provide cutting-edge opportunities that support academic success for all students.”


About the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is a public comprehensive HBCU 1890 Land-Grant Institution. The University embraces its land-grant mission of providing cutting edge research, teaching, outreach, and service programs that respond to the social and economic needs of the state and region. Its mission is to promote and sustain excellent academic programs that integrate quality instruction, research, and student learning experiences responsive to the needs of a racially, culturally, and economically diverse student population. Ultimately, the University is dedicated to providing access and opportunity to academically deserving students and producing graduates who are equipped to excel through their contributions and leadership in a 21st century national and global community. For more information, visit

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) Chancellor Dr. Laurence Alexander was selected as a member of the NCAA Division I Presidential Forum this past fall.

The Presidential Forum is comprised of one president or chancellor from each of the 32 Division I Conferences. The purpose of the forum is to assist the NCAA Division I Board of Directors in accomplishing its strategic mission in the Division I governance structure and help ensure that the NCAA core value involving presidential leadership of intercollegiate athletics at the campus, conference and national level is achieved.

“University of Arkansas -Pine Bluff Dr. Laurence Alexander has shown a steadfast commitment to the forward progression and advancement of our athletic programs and more specifically the student-athletes within the Southwestern Athletic Conference,” said SWAC Commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland.

“We unequivocally feel that NCAA could not have selected a more qualified individual from within the leadership ranks of our conference to assist them with the overall molding and crafting of legislation and strategic initiatives that will significantly impact our membership and the constituents in which they serve,” McClelland added.

“I am honored to be chosen to represent UAPB and the presidents and chancellors of the SWAC on the NCAA Division I Presidential Forum,” Alexander said. “I look forward to weighing in with colleagues in providing counsel to the Board on policies and strategics priorities while supporting our students athletes by advancing the opportunities for their success and well-beings.”

Dr. Alexander is in his eighth year as Chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, an 1890 land-grant research university. Since joining UAPB, Alexander has promoted institutional excellence through initiatives that targeted improved student success outcomes, fostered greater innovation through institutional collaboration, increased research and grant activity, expanded partnerships with business and industry, encouraged efficiency and productivity, cultivated strong connections with alumni and friends, and championed student development and experiential learning.

During his tenure, the university launched several initiatives that significantly improved retention and graduation rates, increased academic programs, research grants, new construction and renovation projects, and reached historic gains in fundraising and development, which included multi-million dollar donations from Simmons Bank and the Windgate Foundation.

Alexander is engaged in various state and national professional organizations, including the Executive Council of the Presidents Council of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities Council of University Presidents, and the APLU Council of 1890s Institutions.

Currently serving as the Vice Chair of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Council of Presidents and Chancellors, Alexander will step into the Chair’s role at the June meeting of the Council. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of ARE-ON Arkansas Research Education Optical Network, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Research Alliance, a group of state research universities and business leaders committed to creating opportunities in the areas of research, commercialization and job creation. He also served as a mentor in the Millennium Leadership Initiative Institute of the American Association of State College and Universities.

A native of New Orleans, Alexander received a bachelor degree in Drama and Communications from the University of New Orleans, a master’s degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Florida, a Juris Doctor from Tulane University, and a Ph.D. in higher education from Florida State University.


About SWAC
The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) is considered one of the premier HBCU conferences in the country and currently rank among the elite in the nation in terms of HBCU alumni playing with professional sports teams.

Current championship competition offered by the league includes competition for men in Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Golf, Indoor Track and Field, Outdoor Track and Field and Tennis.

Women’s competition is offered in the sports of Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Golf, Indoor Track and Field, Outdoor Track and Field, Softball, Tennis and Volleyball.

For more information, visit

PINE BLUFF, AR – Operations become particularly challenging when officials at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) were faced with the task of moving employees and students off-campus and transitioning all course to online delivery. The Windgate Foundation provided a $200,000 COVID-19 grant that made the transition slightly less challenging.

While the University worked to realign existing resources to address the crisis, it was obvious that additional funding was needed, according to George Cotton, Sr., Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement. The Windgate grant will allow UAPB to manage operational costs directly related to COVID-19.

“The generosity of the Windgate Foundation is greatly appreciated,” said Cotton. “This type of support is incredibly important because of its ability to meet an urgent need at a time when discretionary resources are limited.”

“College campuses nationwide are faced with the challenge of responding quickly to a pandemic,” said Laurence B. Alexander, Chancellor of UAPB. “We are thankful to the Windgate Foundation and their willingness to assist with response during this difficult time.”

The grant provides direct funds in hiring additional security for the campus during the limited closure, increased sanitization of campus facilities, purchase of software upgrades for online course delivery, and assists with emergency aid to students.

“Windgate is grateful to be able to provide support to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff as they face the difficult challenges and decisions that must be made to ensure appropriate and safe environments are in place for their students and staff,” said Ashley Moore, Grants Administrator for the Windgate Foundation.


About The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is a public comprehensive HBCU 1890 Land-Grant Institution. The University embraces its land-grant mission of providing cutting edge research, teaching, outreach, and service programs that respond to the social and economic needs of the state and region. For more information, visit

About The Windgate Foundation

The Windgate Foundation is a private grant-making foundation established in 1993 and has awarded more than $855 million in grants. For more information, visit

PINE BLUFF, AR – The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) has expanded its degree offerings to include its first engineering degree, Agricultural Engineering, and a Hospitality and Tourism Management degree program. The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved the programs at its meeting on May 24 after both previously received the approval of the University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees. Classes will begin this fall.

“It’s fitting that our first engineering degree would be in Agriculture as the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is an 1890-land grant institution,” said Dr. Robert Z. Carr, Jr., Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs.

“Agriculture and tourism are the state’s top industries, generating $16 billion and nearly $6 billion annually, respectively. Our goal at UAPB is to offer programs that empower students to positively impact their communities, the state, and society at large,” said Chancellor Laurence B. Alexander.

Carr added that the Agricultural Engineering degree will offer three areas of emphasis: power and machinery; agricultural production systems; and soil and water systems:

  • The Power and Machinery track will challenge students’ creative minds to develop and improve the next generation of agricultural equipment. Upon completion, students may pursue careers in fields associated with hydraulic engineering.
  • The Agricultural Production Systems track will focus on aspects of animal and plant production, including structural development and analysis and environmental control and air quality issues associated with housed animals and plants. This track will prepare students for careers in agricultural chemistry, large irrigation systems work and management, soil fertility treatment, biological pest control, and agricultural commodities.
  • The Soil and Water Systems track will emphasize the design and evaluation of conservation systems. Students will learn how to mitigate and improve the environmental impacts of production and agriculture. Upon graduation, students will have the knowledge to become water resource specialists, wastewater engineers, environmental engineers, and soil and water conversations.

University officials believe that the response to the new degree programs will be robust, as potential students have expressed desires to study engineering at UAPB. Carr said, individuals in this career path typically enjoy median earnings of more than $111,000 annually.

The Hospitality and Tourism Management course of study will include classes that are key to the hospitality industry and tourism market, including management of restaurants and hotels and the marketing of both. Students will be prepared to thrive as general and sales managers and in entry-level positions.

“The timing of the Hospitality Management and Tourism degree program is ideal as it opens the door for possible partnerships with the new casino resort coming to Pine Bluff,” said Dr. Carr. Individuals who are interested in the hospitality and tourism field should expert to work to involve hours beyond the typically 8-to-5 day, and Carr said the university will structure the classes likewise.

“We will receive $500,000 per year over the next 5 years for agriculture-related scholarships. We hope to use these funds to expand scholarship opportunities to include students majoring in our two new degree programs,” he added.

University officials said graduates of the Hospitality and Tourism Management program can expect to earn between $40,000 and $50,000 annually.


About the University of Arkansas of Pine Bluff

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) is an 1890 Land-Grant HBCU with a diverse student population, competitive degree offerings, and stellar faculty. For more than 140 years, UAPB has worked to create an environment that inculcates learning, growth and productivity while affording a basic need to its students – a chance to advance. UAPB offers Certificate and Associate degree programs, more than thirty undergraduate programs, Master’s degree programs and a Doctorate program in Aquaculture/Fisheries. Students are active in more than 100 organizations, an internationally renowned Vesper Choir, Marching Band, Concert Bands, Wind Symphony, nationally recognized debate team, award-winning theater department, and accomplished athletic programs. For more information, visit

PINE BLUFF, AR – Entrepreneur, Lawyer, and Legislator Marc Morial will serve as the keynote speaker for the annual Black History Month assembly at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). The free, public event will take place Thursday, February 14 at 11:00 a.m. in the J.M. Ross Theatre of the Hathaway-Howard Fine Arts building.

Lauded as one of the most accomplished servant-leaders in the nation, Morial served as President and CEO of the National Urban League since 2003 and has been the primary catalyst for an era of change – a transformation for the 105-year old civil rights organization. His energetic and skilled leadership has expanded the League’s work around an empowerment agenda, which is redefining civil rights in the 21st century with a renewed emphasis on closing the economic gaps between white and blacks, as well as other communities of color, and rich and poor Americans.

Under his leadership, the League launched a historic $100 million, five-year “Jobs Rebuild America: Educate, Employ, Empower” initiative in 2013 – a solutions-based, comprehensive approach to the nation’s employment and education crisis that brings together federal government, business, and non-profit resources to create economic opportunity in 50 cities across the country through the Urban League affiliate network.

His creativity has led to initiatives such as the Urban Youth Empowerment Program to assist young adults in securing sustainable jobs and Entrepreneurship Centers in 10 cities to help the growth of small businesses. Also, Morial helped create the Urban Empowerment Fund, which will lend urban impact businesses, and helped created the League’s New Markets Tax Credits initiative, which has resulted in $1 billion in community investment via urban impact businesses, including minority business, through both debt and equity investments.

As mayor of New Orleans, Moral was a popular chief executive with a broad multi-racial coalition who led New Orleans’ 1990 renaissance and left office with a 70% approval rating.

As a lawyer, Morial won the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Pro Bono Publico Award for his legal service to the poor and disadvantaged. He was also one of the youngest lawyers, at the age of 26, to argue and win a major case before the Louisiana Supreme Court.

As a professor, Morial served on the adjunct faculty of Xavier University of Louisiana, where he taught Constitutional Law and Business Law.

As a Louisiana state senator, Morial was named Legislative Rookie of the Year, Education Senator of the Year, and Environmental Senator of the Year, while authoring laws on a wide range of important subjects.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Economics and African American Studies, he also holds a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., as well as numerous honorary degree including Xavier University and Howard University.

Under appointment by President Obama, Morial has served as Chair of the Census Advisory Committee, a member of the President’s Advisory Committee on Financial Capability, and on the Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission. He was also appointed to the Twenty-First Century Workforce Commission by President Bill Clinton.

Morial has been recognized as one of the 100 most influential Black Americans by Ebony Magazine, one of the Top 50 Nonprofit Executives by the Nonprofit Times, and one of the Top 100 Black Lawyers in America.

For more information about the event, contact the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership at 870-575-7061.


PINE BLUFF, AR – The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) announced it has received a $2.2 million gift from the Windgate Foundation (Windgate) to establish the Windgate Foundation Scholarship Endowment and fund the John Miller Howard Art and Education Legacy Exhibition (Howard Exhibition) at the Leedell Moorehead-Graham Fine Arts Gallery at the UAPB Hathaway-Howard Fine Arts Center.

The scholarship endowment will provide funding each year to assist eligible students with education-related expenses. Entering and current students, pursuing any degree plan are now eligible to apply.

“It is always remarkable when organizations, such as Windgate, partner in our institution’s mission to assist students in reaching their educational and career goals. So it is with extreme gratitude and excitement that we enthusiastically accept this gift and thank Windgate for recognizing UAPB’s role in educating the next generation,” said Dr. Laurence B. Alexander, Chancellor of UAPB.

“Windgate Foundation is pleased to partner with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff to create significant academic opportunities for student success. The Windgate Scholarship Endowment fits perfectly with UAPB’s mission of providing access and opportunity to academically deserving students and producing graduates who are equipped to excel through their contributions and leadership,” said Patricia Forgy, Windgate Foundation executive director.

The Howard Exhibition is named in honor of the late John Miller Howard, who was an artist, founder of the UAPB Department of Art and art educator at the university for four decades. The exhibition top open in the fall of 2020 and run through 2022, will feature Howard’s paintings, personal letters, collectibles, photos, and memoirs. Arkansas Delta region public and private schools will be invited to view the exhibit.

The Windgate Foundation is a private grant-making foundation established in 1993 and has awarded more than $698 million in grants.

About the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) is an 1890 Land-Grant HBCU with a diverse student population, competitive degree offerings and stellar faculty. For more than 140 years, UAPB has worked to create an environment that inculcates learning, growth and productivity while affording a basic need to its students – a chance to advance. UAPB offers Certificate and Associates degree programs, more than thirty undergraduate programs, master’s degree programs and a doctorate program in Aquaculture/Fisheries. Students are active in more than 100 organizations, an internationally renowned Vesper Choir, Marching Band, Concert Bands, Wind Symphony, nationally recognized debate team, award-winning theater department and accomplished athletic program. For more information, visit

PINE BLUFF, AR – Lifelong educator and chancellor emeritus Dr. Carolyn F. Blakely of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), to be inducted into the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame. While at UAPB, she developed the Honors College and served as Dean. At the request of students, it was renamed in her honored. Her contributions to the community, education, and civic organizations have impacted countless individuals in Arkansas and beyond.

She was born in Magnolia, Arkansas and raised by her grandmother after her mother’s death. She graduated as valedictorian of her high school. She attended Arkansas AM&N College, later renamed to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and went on to earn her master’s degree in English at Atlanta University. She became the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate degree in English at Oklahoma State University.

She took a teaching positions in various universities, but returned to her alma mater as a member of the English department. She eventually made her way into the administration, serving as interim vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and later, interim chancellor, and finally Interim Chair of the Department of English, Theater and Mass Communications. She became the first woman to serve as chancellor of a publicly supported, four-year institution of higher education in Arkansas.

She was part of a group that founded the Pine Bluff Symphony Orchestra, which was formed out of the public school’s String Music Program. Blakely had established an instrument rental program, which encouraged students to participate in the school orchestra class with the end goal of having students who could play with a professional orchestra.

Blakley has been also named one of Arkansas “Top 100 Women” three times; was elected president of the National Association of African-American Honors Programs, and received the NAACP Education Award. She has also served on the boards of several community and civic organizations, including the Arkansas Schools for the Blind and Deaf, Arkansas Humanities Council, United Way, Arkansas Community Foundation Board, the Susan G. Komen Board, and the Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield Advisory Board.

Blakley will be included into the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame on Thursday, August 30, 2018, at 7 p.m. at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. To purchase tickets, click here.


The goal of the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame (AWHF) is to honor, in perpetuity, women whose contributions have influenced the direction of Arkansas in their community or the state.   The AWHF inducts contemporary (living) or historical (deceased) women who have been born in and achieved prominence within the state, or been a resident of Arkansas for an extended period after achieving prominence here or elsewhere and have:

  • Made significant and enduring contributions to their field of endeavor, professional or otherwise
  • Impacted the social, cultural, economic or political well-being of the community, state or nation
  • Elevated the status of women and positively impacted women and girls
  • Helped open new frontiers for women and for society in general
  • Inspired others by their example

The legacy of these great women should be shared and honored. The Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame is dedicated to preserving the history of accomplishments and recognizing women across the state of Arkansas. It also provides women encouragement and inspiration from stories shared by these great women. For more information, visit

HCF and its Kwesi Ronald Harris Division of Historical Records commemorates Black History Month remembering those important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. During Black History Month, HCF will focus on students and alumni of HBCUs, and individuals who made or are making history in the African-American community.

Dr. Freddie Hartfield, who holds the distinction of being the longest-serving tenured professor in the history of Arkansas AM&N/UAPB for his service for more than 50 years. He was raised in Elaine, Arkansas, a small town located in Phillips County. His mother died during childbirth and his great-grandmother, Sarah Hartfield, raise him. Years later, tough times with little money and sometimes little shelter, led an 11-year-old Hartfield and Sarah Hartfield (who was 80-years-old by then) to work in the cotton fields, making 75 cents per hundred a day. During the six-month off-season, he attended Elaine High School seven miles from home walking both ways.

Prof. Cleo Frye, a vocational teacher, and his wife, Velma “Red” Frye of Elaine successfully convinced Sarah Hartfield that Freddie Hartfield should attend J.C. Corbin High School in Pine Bluff to further his education. Frye brought young Hartfield to Lewis Hall and left him there, but he had no money for school or food. At the time, Dr. John Brown Watson was the school president. Dr. L.A. Davis, Sr., was an English teacher then and worked in the admissions office. Davis Sr. helped Hartfield by getting him into and remaining at the school by giving him a job to pay for tuition. After Hartfield graduated from J.C. Corbin High School, be began working at the Pine Bluff Arsenal and attending AM&N College. For four years, he worked eight hours a day, making 51 cents an hour, moving cluster bombs. Each time he was paid, he kept only the money he needed for transportation and food and sent the rest back home.

Hartfield graduated from Arkansas AM&N College in 1950 with a Bachelor’s degree in agriculture. Consequently, he was 23-years-old when he began agriculture at AM&N. After he discovered his passion for mathematics, Hartfield received a master’s degree in mathematics education in 1957 from the University of Arkansas and a Ph.D. in mathematics education from Kansas State University. Although he’s proud of his educational accomplishments, Hartfield is even prouder of his family. He’s been married for more than 73 years to Verna Mae Hartfield.

Until May 2014, Hartfield, mathematics professor extraordinaire, had become a well-established figure at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Many UAPB alumni from across the nation boast that Hartfield taught them mathematics or at least that he was their instructor. Hartfield came to the institution on June 2, 1941, when he enrolled in J.C. Corbin High School at the age of 16, he was 90 years old when he retired.

PINE BLUFF, ARK – A University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) alumna writes book on the founder of who it all began with.

Having operated now for more than 140 years, UAPB was founded in 1875 as Branch Normal College by Joseph Carter Corbin, a native of Ohio and son of former slaves.

Corbin, who had a classical education, was the first African American Superintendent of Public Education in Arkansas and literally built the school from the ground up, according to a new book – Joseph Carter Corbin: Educator Extraordinaire and Founder of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff by Gladys Turner Finney – just published by Butler Center Books.

There was a desperate need for teachers in Arkansas, Finney writes, and a great desire for education by former slaves who had been prohibited from learning to read and write.

Corbin himself cleared the land that would soon house the college and then set about to create a school that would produce the first African American teachers following the Reconstruction years. For almost three decades, he worked tirelessly on behalf of Arkasnas’s black community to meet the need for educators.

In the early days, Corbin worked both as the president and janitor so that he could control costs and keep the school going. He often waived “matriculation fees” and other expenses to allow impoverished students the opportunity to graduate and become qualified to teach throughout Arkansas.

Although he might not have realized it at the time, Corbin was a member of the so-called “aristocrats of color,” the African American elite of national prominence and a group that included such luminaries as Booker T. Washington (although Corbin and Washington had different philosophies about education). Corbin was a true giant in the history of education in Arkansas. His story, told by a former UAPB student, is monumental for the scope of what one man was able to accomplish.

Joseph Carter Corbin is available at River Market Books & Gifts on the Main Library campus of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) in Little Rock and other bookstores; from online retailers; through the Chicago Distribution Center at (800) 621-2736; and at

Butler Center Books is the publishing division of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library System. To see a complete list of Butler Center Books, visit

Gladys Turner Finney was born in Tamo (in Jefferson County, Arkansas), and was a member of the last graduating class of J.C. Corbin High School in Pine Bluff. She holds a Master of Social Work degree from the Atlanta University School of Social Work. Her distinguished career as a clinician, teacher, and administrator in the field of social work spanned nearly four decades. In 2012, Finney’s undergraduate alma mater, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, conferred on her the Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree for her long commitment to social work and for her efforts in empowering other through advocacy and philanthropy. She currently resides in Dayton, Ohio.