UACCM chancellor plans to retire

Sonja Keith
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UACCM Chancellor Dr. Larry Davis and his wife, Carlene, on the college campus. Davis has announced he will retire Jan. 31. A reception in his honor is planned from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, in Tyson Hall A in the UACCM Workforce Training Center. (Mike Kemp photo)

by Sonja J. Keith

Dr. Larry Davis, chancellor at the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton, will retire the end of January, completing a career in education that has spanned more than 40 years.

“I have seen too many people wait too late and their retirement years were not what they hoped,” Davis said. “I truly believe God brought me to UACCM to build the Workforce Training Center and it was finished this past spring. A new Allied Health Building was up next, but that will take a few more years and I would rather be having fun, doing things with my wife, Carlene. We met after I moved to Morrilton, so that was also part of God’s plan for me. She has been retired for several years and that played into my decision as well.”

Davis spent the last 45 years in higher education in Oklahoma and Arkansas. He worked at three colleges in two states in three different systems while also being able to evaluate other colleges in other states as a 26-year member of the Peer Evaluator Corps. He became the UACCM chancellor in 2010.

“I think I saved the best for last. Working at UACCM in the UA System for the last eight-plus years has been a great opportunity and one of my most satisfying professional experiences.”

When he looks back on his time as chancellor, Davis credits UACCM employees for the school’s achievements. “Anything that was accomplished was a ‘we’ thing, never a ‘me’ thing. I was blessed with great people here and a community, a county and a service area full of incredibly supportive people for me and the college.  

“I tried to be active and visible and make the college a strong partner with the community. The relationships I have with the county superintendents of school are super positive and strong. We genuinely support each other and there is great unity there. The relationships we have (and I have) with city and county officials are very strong and we have some awesome industry partners who support us with scholarships and equipment we could not have afforded otherwise.  

“I hope and believe that the college is viewed as one of the great assets and partners for this area.”

Davis said one of his proudest accomplishments was the UACCM Workforce Training Center. The 53,000-square-foot center is home to several of the college’s high-wage, high-demand programs with new equipment and new program designs to meet current industry standards and needs. 

“Carlene’s dad was an electrical cooperative lineman and supervisor, and my dad was an auto mechanic, so honoring all the hard-working people who have been a part of our lives and providing future training opportunities for others is particularly personal and very meaningful to us.”

Davis said he hopes his successor will love UACCM and the people in the area as he has. “I hope they choose to live here and be active in the community and county. I also hope they keep the momentum going we have with our technical programs and workforce training as well as continue to strengthen the transfer relationships we have with our four-year partners.

“Thanks to the leadership of my boss, Dr. Donald R. Bobbitt, the UA system has never been stronger as a system and I see more benefits for UACCM as that continues. The next chancellor will have the good fortune to have a great boss in Dr. Bobbitt. He has been a great mentor, encourager and friend. I could not have asked for a better boss.”

Dr. Diana Arn, currently vice chancellor of academic services, has been named interim chancellor and a search committee of campus faculty/staff and community and business/industry people will be created to interview and recommend possible candidates for the permanent position.  

Davis will spend his last two days as chancellor attending the UA System Board meetings at UAMS. He and Carlene have several things in mind for retirement. “We plan on getting things around the house ‘de-cluttered’ and simplified and then do a fun trip every month if we can. We also have a condo at Fairfield Bay and will spend a lot of the summers there, enjoying the pools, the lake and friends with boats.”

Davis is appreciative of the support he has received while serving as chancellor. “I just want to say thanks to everyone who has supported and encouraged me the past several years, including the 501 magazine staff. I have been truly blessed with a beautiful wife to enjoy retirement with and feel like I am leaving the campus in very good shape, financially, physically and personnel-wise.  

“The relationships between the college and all our constituent groups are strong.  Someone is stepping into a great situation and I will be praying for them to have great success.”

In his resignation to Bobbitt, Davis wrote, “Thank you and the UA Board for the opportunity to serve the last eight years as chancellor at UACCM. I doubt anyone will remember that I was here. However, I will never forget this place and the opportunity the UA system gave a math-geek, auto mechanic’s son, to fulfill his dream of leading a college and helping other people try to fulfill their dreams as well.”