To a near capacity crowd Sunday, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Chancellor Lawrence A. Davis Jr. made one of his last addresses on campus.
The chancellor will retire effective May 25.
Introduced by his nephew, attorney Ronald Davis Jr. at the 139th Founders’ Day Sunrise Service, the chancellor was referred to as a war general, a laborer, a great leader and a visionary.
Ronald Davis listed Chancellor Davis’ achievements from 1991 to present. He named new construction projects such as Dawson-Hicks Hall, Caine-Gilleland Hall, Henderson-Young Hall, the 1890 Extension Complex, Childress Hall, UAPB Business Support Incubator followed by the Torii Hunter Baseball Field, Golden Lion Football Stadium and the UAPB Soccer Field.
Ronald Davis mentioned other historical events under the chancellor’s helm such as the UAPB M4 Band playing in President Barak Obama’s Inaugural Parade, the UAPB Men’s Basketball Team winning the SWAC Championship and traveling to the NCAA Playoffs, the UAPB Cheerleaders appearing on the Paula Abdul MTV Rah!Show, and Michelle Obama’s commencement address in 2010.
The list read like the who’s who of chancellors and great leaders, yet this great leader did not laud his accomplishments when he gave the Founder’s Day Sunrise address.
“I never intended to be the chancellor, as I had discussed with my Dad (former president and chancellor Lawrence A. Davis Sr.),” Davis said. “But a higher power said differently.”
Remaining true to his UAPB allegiance, Chancellor Davis spoke of the University’s mission and reminded the audience that to remain successful, the university must adhere to it.
“Don’t be derailed. Don’t change the mission,” he said. “Remember that the end of education is to know God.”
In closing, he lauded the heavy impression that his late mother left with him after his high school graduation.
Though the card was slightly discolored, Davis read from it the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. “This poem epitomizes my attitude and tenure,” he said.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—-and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—-and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—-nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—-which is more—-you’ll be a Man, my son!
Tisha Arnold and Donna Mooney are staff members of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.