The Lawrence Davis name has been synonymous with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff since 1943. Chancellor Dr. Lawrence A. Davis Jr. is leaving office, effective May 25, after dedicating five decades to UAPB.
He has been a student, faculty member, dean of the School of Science and Technology, dean of Arts and Sciences and chancellor on the campus, investing his life in higher education. Davis has had his hands at the helm as chancellor since November 1991, following in the footsteps of his late father, Lawrence A. Davis Sr., who was president of the university, formerly Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College, from 1943-72.
The chancellorís tenure has seen UAPB grow in both size and influence. The campus physical plant has been expanded and the doctoral program in aquaculture and fisheries are measurements of his accomplishments and leadership.
An interim chancellor will be appointed to serve until a permanent successor is named. UA System President Donald R. Bobbitt said a nationwide search will involve UAPB students, faculty, staff and alumni, along with community and state leaders.
While Bobbitt praised Davisí contributions to the university Thursday, comments from the systemís spokesman in recent weeks have not been as supportive.
Davis announced he was resigning, while the UA System said he was retiring. There is a difference. Davis declined to make any additional comments when contacted about his resignation letter later Thursday.
Four UAPB employees were fired ó including a Davis aide ó last month after an audit by the UA System uncovered a long laundry list of financial issues on campus. Davis publicly challenged the auditís findings in meetings before the UAPB staff, faculty and students.
Individuals who have worked with the chancellor on and off the campus have praised his contributions to the university, students and Pine Bluff. Many voiced sadness and regret that he is leaving.
We must not forget the accomplishments of those who have passed ahead of us and made our path a little easier.
Few youth between the ages of six and 15 envision spending three days of their spring break hanging around with 20 Pine Bluff police officers.
However, that is exactly how 120 Pine Bluff, Watson Chapel and Dollarway school district students spent part of their vacation. They gathered at the Pine Bluff Convention Center for a three-day camp to learn the basics of baseball and softball with the help of the officers, 14 AmeriCorps cadets and Explorer members.
Explorers are youth ranging from 14 to 20 who are interested in becoming police officers.
The students couldnít help but learn leadership and teamwork and baseball skills. They were also fed lunch and snacks.
As Lt. Shirley Warrior noted, a major goal of the camp involved instilling a sense of respect for others and for themselves that may transfer from the ball field to everyday life.
The fun stuff came with lectures on topics that included respect, discipline, and the importance of an education, bullying and avoiding drugs. They also had an opportunity to learn police are not the bad guys.
The Pine Bluff Police Department project can pay dividends in saved lives and making this a better city in which to call home.