Linda Lewis, vice president of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs at Southeast Arkansas College, was the honored guest at a reception hosted by the Board of Trustees of SEARK College.
The venue was the Reynolds Center in Pine Bluff, 4-6 P.M., April 30, 2013; the occasion was 47 years of service to SEARK College. Her retirement is effective May 31 of this year.
Until then, Lewis is “…still working, still attending meetings,” Stephen Hilterbran, SEARK president, noted in remarks to a gathering of Lewis’ friends and colleagues. The
appellation includes the Trustees, most of whom were present; Dutch King, county judge and former Pine Bluff mayor; Dr. Lenore Shoults, executive director, The Arts & Science Center; Eva McGee, executive assistant to UAPB Chancellor Lawrence Davis, both now retired; Wanda Neal, retired director, Pine Bluff office of the Employment Security Division; and, William H. Fox, Jr., executive director, Pine Bluff Symphony Orchestra. Paul Bennett, chair of the Trustees, Fox, Shoults, and Hilterbran lauded Lewis and her accomplishments in remarks to a gathering of 100 or so nibbling amuse-gueule and hors d’œuvre, and sipping punch, all prepared under the direction of Chef Jamie, Pine Bluff Country Club.
Still a student at the University of Arkansas — she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1966 and a master’s degree in 1984 — Lewis, a 1962 graduate of Pine Bluff High School, became the first business instructor at Pine Vocational Technical School, precursor to SEARK College. Aggressively led by Leon Coker, a curriculum, the attendant infrastructure of faculty, staff, and facility required to offer something other than welding, auto repair, and nursing were to be created. Lewis was present at the creation; she never left.
Lewis crafted the business curriculum and was directly involved in the details large and small, minutiae and not, required to establish an academic environment with rich offerings and a student friendly persona imbued by a welcoming culture. As she noted in her remarks, “…I selected the furniture and typewriters.” That some of those items are still in use is not independently verified.
Previously, as reported in the Commercial, Lewis was honored on the SEARK campus, an event attended by most of the College faculty and staff. On campus and off, successes achieved on her watch were noted:
• SEARK is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. A major benefit: All academic credits granted by SEARK are accepted by every college and university in Arkansas
• The Nursing, LPN/Paramedic to RN Transition, Surgical Technology, Radiologic Technology, and Emergency Medical Technology Programs—led by Diann Williams, Vice
President, Assessment/Nursing & Allied Health: each is accredited by the appropriate state or national agency.
• 90 percent of SEARK graduates either are employed within six months or continue their education track
Lewis intends to travel — read Savannah, Charleston, and Hawaii on the immediate itinerary — correct any weakness in the Memphis retail economy—read granddaughter — and sharpen bird identification skills — read watch them a lot. There is a yard, ivy, azaleas, and considerable flora to which a spouse and gardeners, botanically challenged all, have not properly attended. Sorting out suitable desks and typewriters is not contemplated.