(Excerpted from James F. Willis, Southern Arkansas University: The Mulerider School’s Centennial History, 1909-2009, pp. 336-337, 371-372)[SAU President] Dr. [Steven] Gamble worked to enroll a more diverse student body. He set a goal of admitting additional international students and in 1996 appointed Claudia “Penny” Lyons director of international student admissions. Lyons and assistant Wayne Garner recruited larger numbers. By 1999, international students at SAU had tripled to more than 120. Dr. Gamble turned a half-time minority affairs coordinator position into full-time and in 1995 hired Cledis Stuart to head an office of multicultural services. Dr. Gamble and Stuart undertook numerous initiatives to recruit and retain a larger percentage of black students. By 2001, minority enrollment had reached 27 percent.
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Faculty who had spent a career at SAU, a number of them alumni, began retiring in the 1990s, replaced by a faculty younger, more diverse, and more likely to have completed a doctoral degree. Dr. Dan Ball, the new vice president for academic affairs, succeeding Dr. [Jerry] Pyle, noted later that between 1993 and 1997, SAU hired sixty-three new faculty. By 2008, some 83 percent of the faculty had been hired since 1990 and 61 percent since 2000. Faculty holding the doctoral degree grew from 48 percent in 1982 to 68 percent in 2005. By 2008, only 16 percent of faculty were alumni. The new faculty was more diverse in origins, coming from sixty-eight different undergraduate institutions and seventy-one graduate schools. Counting all minorities (African American faculty alone grew to 10 percent), SAU’s minority faculty by 2007 was 17 percent, the third highest percentage in Arkansas, behind only the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. A large number of faculty—eighteen—had international origins. The largest contingent was from China, but others came from South Korea, Malaysia, Palestine, Panama, Ukraine, Vietnam, and Russia.
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As with the transition to newer and younger faculty in the final two decades of the university’s first century, there was also a new generation of academic leadership, generally more diverse than in the past. There was an unusual level of turnover, contrasted to SAU’s historical experience, which created more potential problems of organizational continuity than in earlier years. Deans in those years included the following: business—Dr. Rankin, Dr. Terry A. Stinson, and Dr. Lisa C. Toms; education—Dr. Dale Robbins, Dr. Donald R. Nelson, Dr. Margaret R. Downing, Dr. George J. Fero, Dr. Rosanne S. Joyner, Dr. Ruby Burgess, and Dr. A. Zaidy MohdZain; liberal and performing arts—Dr. Jerry W. Pyle, Dr. Donald A. Watt, Dr. David L. Crouse, and Dr. Ben F. Johnson III; science and technology—Dr. Wayne M. Gildseth and Dr. Joe E. Winstead; graduate studies—Dr. Donald R. Nelson, Dr. Suzanne E. Jessup, Dr. Donna Y. Allen, Dr. Daniel L. Bernard, Dr. John Jones, Dr. Kim F. Shirey, and Dr. Kim K. Bloss. In the position of vice president for academic affairs, there was also greater turnover with six men holding the position after 1990, including Dr. James T. Lovell, Dr. Daniel W. Ball, Dr. Jerry W. Pyle, Dr. David L. Crouse, Dr. Corbet J. Lamkin, and Dr. Brian S. Canfield. In the registrar’s office, however, the traditional pattern of long-term leadership persisted. Dr. Edward Nipper served more than twenty years after he became registrar in 1988 and together with his principal staff, Debra Sturdivant and Jamie Dodson, provided continuity. Of course, no one possessed more institutional memory than Maxine Porterfield who had worked at the school since 1954 and in the registrar’s office since 1967. Paula Washington Woods also provided long service in the counseling and testing center.
Professional and secretarial staff in other areas of the university also provided essential institutional continuity. Crucial to the success of new university administrators were long-serving staff members, not previously mentioned elsewhere or in previous chapters, including La’Tricia Davis, Debra Banks, Doris Dees, Jan Franks, Vicki Butler, Sarajane Telford, Becki Talley, Sandra Walker, Ruth Jeane, Rita Rhea, Gaye Calhoun, Debbie Desonie, Lynn Disotelle, Debbie Sehon, Kaye Burley, Mary Colen, Vera Camp, Mary Bradshaw, Brenda Garrett, and Essie Moore.
Ann Bridges, secretary to SAU presidents since 1983, . . . . provided much institutional memory . . . .