Ten to be Honored with Silas Hunt Legacy Awards

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The University of Arkansas will honor 10 African Americans for their contributions to the University of Arkansas, the State of Arkansas, the nation and the world at a black-tie event to be held April 28, 2006.

The 10 people are:

  • Mr. Gerald Alley (B.S.B.A. ’73) of Arlington, Texas

  • Dr. Margaret Clark (M.A. ’68, Ed.D. ’78) of Fayetteville, Ark.

  • Mr. Randall Ferguson (B.S.B.A. ’74) of Lee’s Summit, Mo.

  • The Honorable George W. Haley (LL.B. ’52, J.D. ’67) of Silver Spring, Md.

  • Mr. E. Lynn Harris (B.A. ’77) of Houston

  • Dr. Edith Irby Jones ( B.S.M. ’52, M.D. ’52) of Houston

  • Dr. Bobby W. Jones (B.S. ’84) of Richmond Hill, Ga.

  • Ms. Janis Kearney (B.A. ’77) of Chicago

  • Dr. Gordon Morgan (M.A. ’56) of Fayetteville

  • The Honorable Rodney Slater (J.D. ’80) of Washington, D.C.

The recipients were nominated by the public and selected by a volunteer selection committee comprising UA alumni, friends, faculty, students and staff.

“We are honored to name these 10 as recipients of the Silas Hunt Legacy Award,” said Chancellor John A. White. “These individuals’ contributions to the University of Arkansas, the state of Arkansas, the nation and the world are outstanding. Their lives and accomplishments embody the pioneering spirit shown by Silas Hunt when he enrolled as the first black student in the School of Law.”

On Feb. 2, 1948, Silas Hunt became the first black student in modern times to attend a major Southern public university when he was admitted without litigation into the University of Arkansas School of Law. Hunt, who grew up in Texarkana, Ark., was a veteran of World War II and earned his undergraduate degree at Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College, now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Hunt died of tuberculosis in the spring of 1949 before finishing his law degree.

 “Hunt’s presence at the university was brief but significant. Tragically, he died of tuberculosis in the spring of 1949, having created a legacy of possibility and inspiration for other African Americans,” White said.

About the honorees:

Gerald Alley of Arlington, Texas, is the co-founder and chief executive office of Con-Real Support Inc., the largest black-owned construction and real estate firm in Texas with offices in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and Oakland, Calif. An alumnus of the Sam M. Walton College of Business, he currently serves on numerous boards including the Walton College Dean’s Executive Advisory Board. One of Con-Real’s missions is to change the industry’s perception of black contractors and real estate developers. Con-Real has been selected for many honors and accolades. Alley serves on the advisory board of Southwest Securities FSB and Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business. He is also a mentor for young black men through the Journey into Manhood organization.

Dr. Margaret Clark of Fayetteville was one of the first African American faculty members at the University of Arkansas when she arrived in 1969. She taught French, foreign languages and added teacher education in 1972. She earned emerita status in the department of curriculum and instruction in 1998, and since retiring she has taught a course each semester. Clark is the first African American president of the Fayetteville Business and Professional Women’s Club, the Fayetteville Branch of the American Association of University Women, the Arkansas Division of the American Association of University Women and the Arkansas Chapter of the Arkansas-East Bolivia Partners of the Americas. She has been recognized as Outstanding Faculty Member with the Panhellenic Award and recognized with the Martin Luther King Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award. She was also honored for her community work as one of the Outstanding Women of the Year in 2003 by WHOM (composed of nine women’s organizations) and is actively involved with her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, for which she spearheaded the organization of both the campus undergraduate chapter and the northwest Arkansas graduate alumnae chapter. She has been involved with numerous civic organizations including the Washington County Historical Society.

Randall Ferguson of Lee’s Summit, Mo., is currently senior partner of business development for Tshibanda & Associates LLC, a consulting and project management services firm. Previously, he served as senior vice president of business growth and member connections with the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce (2003-2005) and the retired senior location executive for the IBM Kansas City Region (1998-2003). He completed a 30-year career with IBM. He was also a member of the founding board of directors of the UA Black Alumni Society. In addition to his degree in business administration from the University of Arkansas, Ferguson has also completed executive education in business and entrepreneurship at the Harvard University Business School and at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He served on the steering committee for the UA Campaign for the Twenty-First Century and chaired the UA Student Affairs Campaign committee. As a benefactor, he has created a scholarship for African American students at the University of Arkansas.

The Honorable George W. Haley of Silver Spring, Md., is the former U.S. ambassador to the Republic of the Gambia. He is among the “Six Pioneers” who were the first six African American students to enter the University of Arkansas Law School. He graduated in 1952 and was the second African American graduate from the UA Law School. He has a distinguished career as an attorney in international law and has been involved in every presidential administration from Nixon to the present administration. In addition to his ambassadorship, Haley’s presidential appointments include chairman of the Postal Rate Commission, service on the United States delegation at the Twenty-Second General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris and an appointment to the United States delegation to the Second International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa in Geneva, Switzerland. He received his bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College in 1949 and honorary doctoral degrees from Utica College and the University of Arkansas in 2003.

E. Lynn Harris of Houston is an author and a visiting professor at the University of Arkansas. He has published more than seven novels (his eighth will be released in May 2006) and was awarded two Blackboard Novel of the Year prizes. He was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and won the James Baldwin Award for Literary Excellence and the Lambda Literary Bridgebuilder Award for his memoir in 2003. All his books have been bestsellers; his last six novels, and his memoir, “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,” have been New York Times Bestsellers. Currently, there are 3 million of his books in print. Publisher’s Weekly named Harris “the best selling African American male novelist of the 1990s.” He was also named to the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2000 and honored by the Arkansas Alumni Association with its Citation of Distinguished Alumni in 1999.

Dr. Bobby W. Jones of Richmond Hill, Georgia, served as the chief of the department of medicine in Wurzburg, Germany. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas in 1984 and his medical degree from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 1990. He has lectured from the local to the international level. As deputy commander for clinical services for the 67th combat support hospital in Tikrit, he was responsible for the overall medical care and evacuation for more than 15,000 personnel in north central Iraq. For his service during Operation Iraqi Freedom II (January 2004-2005), he received the Bronze Star. He has been a member of the Black Alumni Society since its inception. He has established the Sammie Perry-Earnestine Jones Perseverance Scholarship in honor of his grandmother and mother for minority students at the University of Arkansas. He is currently assigned as the commander of the Tuttle Army Health Clinic on Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga.

Dr. Edith Irby Jones of Houston received her medical degree from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 1952, earning the distinction of being the first black graduate from what was then called the University of Arkansas School of Medicine. She was elected as the first female president of the National Medical Association, and she was the first black woman resident at an all-white school, the Baylor College of Medicine Affiliated Hospitals. In 1962, Jones set up a private practice in inner-city Houston. She later founded the Edith Irby Jones Foundation to fund scholarships for the needy. She is a charter member of Physicians for Human Rights, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. She established and supports a clinic in Vera Cruz, Mexico, and helped set up a clinic for the poor in Haiti. Jones is currently chief of medical staff at Riverside General Hospital in Houston. She was named a distinguished alumna of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences in 2005 and holds honorary doctorates from Missouri Valley College, Mary Holmes College and Knoxville College.

Janis F. Kearney of Chicago is an author, former presidential diarist and newspaper publisher. In 1987 Kearney purchased the Arkansas State Press Newspaper from the renowned civil rights activist Daisy Bates and published the statewide weekly newspaper for five years. During that time, she also served as a board director for the National Newspaper Publishers Association. She was appointed by President Clinton as director of public affairs and communications for the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2003. From 1995-2001 she served as President Clinton’s personal diarist, a position that entailed chronicling the presidency on a day-to-day basis, the first time in history such an appointment had been made. She was awarded a fellowship in 2001 to Harvard University’s W.E.B. DuBois Institute to begin research and writing an oral biography on William Jefferson Clinton’s legacy in race relations. That book, “Conversations: William Jefferson Clinton...from Hope to Harlem,” is scheduled for publication in the summer of 2006. The author recently founded Writing Our World Press. In January 2005, she published her memoir, “Cotton Field of Dreams,” which details her journey from the cotton fields of southeast Arkansas and offers a portrait of an Arkansas delta sharecropping family. She is currently a visiting fellow and lecturer at DePaul University in Chicago.

Dr. Gordon Morgan of Fayetteville is a University Professor of sociology and was one of the first African American faculty members hired at the University of Arkansas in 1969. He earned his doctoral degree from Washington State University in 1961. He has served as a teacher, counselor, mentor and role model to generations of students, especially minority students. He has chronicled the history of the black experience at the University of Arkansas in his book “The Edge of Campus” and is the author of 16 other books including “Toward an American Sociology: Questioning the European Construct,” and “Tilman C. Cothran: Second Generation Sociologist.” His research interests include investigating how African countries might be converted to the dollar standard, the Arkansas delta, and a comprehensive study of the discipline of sociology. Morgan continues to be interested in the Caribbean as an area of research and teaching as well. He and his family established the Morgan Family Scholarship for minority students.

The Honorable Rodney Slater of Washington, D.C., is the former U.S. Secretary of Transportation. He is a partner with Patton Boggs LLP, Attorneys at Law. He earned his bachelor of science from Eastern Michigan University in 1977 and his Juris Doctor from the UA School of Law in 1980. Slater has also served as administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, director of government relations at Arkansas State University, special assistant for economic and community programs to Gov. Bill Clinton and assistant attorney general to the state of Arkansas. He has also served on the Arkansas State Highway Commission and was its chair in 1992.

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