UCA celebrates Courtway

Story and photos
by Sonja J. Keith

The University of Central Arkansas paid tribute to President Tom Courtway during a farewell reception in the McCastlain Ballroom.

Courtway has stepped down as president and will join the faculty in the UCA College of Business. Dr. Houston D. Davis will become the 11th president of the university.

“This is a little bit of a bittersweet day for many of us here,” said Christina Madsen, associate vice president of communications, public relations and marketing at UCA, in welcoming those in attendance. “While we are happy for President Courtway and excited for his family, we are very sad to see him go.”

UCA Board of Trustees Chairman Shelia Vaught described Courtway as a “great” man.

“Tom Courtway came into the position when this institution needed stability, integrity and a role model for students. And boy, did we hit the jackpot. He has been perfect in every one of those fields.”

Vaught introduced a video tribute that highlighted Courtway’s time in office, with comments from members of the UCA Board of Trustees. Many of those interviewed included a special thanks to Courtway for his service. (To see the video, visit youtube.com/watch?v=O2Rkf-pYY0w.)

Kale Gober, vice president for University Advancement. announced the results of a fundraising campaign to establish an endowed scholarship in Courtway’s honor.

Longtime UCA supporters Rush and Linda Harding donated $100,000 gift to UCA in October to establish the Tom Courtway Endowed Scholarship Fund. The donation came with a challenge to match their $100,000 with an additional $100,000 raised by the UCA community.

Gober explained that financial support for the scholarship came from many different constituents, including the university’s executive staff (more than $9,000), board members (more than $42,000), current students (more than $3,200) and others. “The total raised was $127,250,” Gober said. “Rush and Linda Harding’s generosity continues to impact students at UCA, so in addition to the initial challenge gift of $100,000, they are giving an additional $100,000 to the President Courtway Endowed Scholarship Fund. The grant total we have now is $327,250.” Students in the next academic year will begin receiving the Tom Courtway Endowed Scholarship Award.

Gober said Courtway’s presidency will be remembered for passion, honesty and integrity. “President Courtway, I think your love for UCA is surpassed only by its constituents’ love for you.”

Courtway thanked several individuals, including his wife, Melissa, and his family. “I want to express my gratitude and how blessed I am. I want to say some things that are on my heart,” he said. “Melissa, you know what you mean to our family. I’ve said it many times, this is a journey we took together and you’ve been a great partner. I love you and thank you for everything you’ve done for me and for our family.”

Courtway thanked those involved in setting up the reception, the UCA Board of Trustees, his assistant Susan Lilley, the executive staff, faculty/staff and the students, alumni and university friends. He also thanked his parents, Bob and Betty Courtway “for how they raised me, just like most of your parents raised you, to get up every morning and go to work. They taught me hard work is good work and that your word means everything and you have to protect your name at all costs. That’s what we do,” he said. “They taught me to be proud of where you came from.

“We’re about to have a new president in town and I’m thrilled. The board did a great job in selecting Dr. Houston Davis. He will do a fantastic job.”