The second annual “Celebrate UAPB Day” was recently held at St. Paul Baptist Church with a rousing message from Laurence B. Alexander, chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and a stirring performance by the UAPB Vesper Choir under the direction of Michael Bates.
The internationally renowned 65-70-member Vesper choir presented renditions of variations of classical, spiritual, and gospel selections. Alexander, who was accompanied by both his wife, Veronica Alexander, and his mother-in-law, Calline Wicker, delivered a spiritual, emotional, and informative message acknowledging the fact that UAPB has experienced much success in the past, but stressing the need to forge new paths to future accomplishments. Repeating his thesis that, “The Best is Yet to Come,” he talked of increasing enrollment, retention, academic performance, alumni support, and building a marriage between town and gown.
In her explanation of the purpose of the program, Jacquelyn McCray, retired dean of the School of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Human Sciences, discussed the contributions of the university to the city, state, and nation, including that it is the sixth largest employer in the county, that it is the source of the greatest number of educated workers in the community, that it is the major source of public school educators in the Pine Bluff and Dollarway School Districts, and closed by saying that “UAPB is a gold mine from which the citizens of Pine Bluff need to harvest the gold.”
Rev. Steven King, pastor of St. Paul, and Kaytryne Horton presented Alexander and Bates with a $1,500 scholarship for a music major at the university in honor of the late Grace Wiley, who was the organist at the church for more than 60 years and the chair of the Department of Music at UAPB.
Carolyn Blakely, retired dean of the Honors College, and McCray served as co-chairs of the program.