Ceremony to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of U of A's Miss America, Donna Axum Whitworth

Miss America Donna Axum, as she appeared in a publicity photo after winning the crown.
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Miss America Donna Axum, as she appeared in a publicity photo after winning the crown.

FAYETTEVILLE – University of Arkansas graduate and former Miss America Donna Axum Whitworth will be honored in a ceremony during the Arkansas-Auburn football game at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday. Accompanied by Chancellor Dave Gearhart, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long and members of her family, Whitworth will be recognized on the field between the first and second quarters of the game.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of her crown. While a student at the University of Arkansas, Whitworth was named Miss America in 1964. Whitworth used her Miss America scholarship to complete her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in speech and drama, radio, television and film. She received her Bachelor of Arts in 1966 and her Master of Arts in 1969. Her extensive professional experience as a college teacher, executive producer/TV hostess, TV spokesperson, speaker, and author is complemented by civic and government service, notably on the Advisory Committee for the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women, the Governor’s Commission on the Employment of the Disabled in Arkansas, and the Advisory Committee on the Arts for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Her service to the U of A includes leadership roles in the Arkansas Alumni Association and the National Development Council.

A native of El Dorado, Whitworth was the recipient of the Citation of Distinguished Alumni Award in 1988. Whitworth served as a member of the University of Arkansas Board of Advisors and now serves on the Campaign Arkansas Steering Committee. She previously served on the Steering Committee of the Campaign for the 21st Century, which raised more than $1 billion. The fitness center in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Building was named in her honor. Whitworth was also chosen by Delta Delta Delta as one of  the “Top 100 Tri Delts in the First 100 Years.”

Whitworth and her husband, J. Bryan Whitworth, make their home in Fort Worth. She is heavily involved in the arts on the local, state and national levels and is past chairwoman of the Texas Cultural Trust. In that capacity, she created two giving circles, Founders for the Arts and Texas Women for the Arts. In 1994, President Bill Clinton appointed Whitworth to the President’s Advisory Committee for the Arts at the Kennedy Center in Washington. She served as special events chair on the Executive Committee. In 2001, Whitworth was elected to the National Committee for the Performing Arts, where she served as chair of the Executive Committee.

In Fort Worth, Whitworth is a member of the Van Cliburn Foundation’s Board of Directors, the Fort Worth Symphony’s Executive Committee and the Texas Christian University College of Fine Arts Advisory Board. She served as president of Imagination Celebration, a Kennedy Center program that has served the public schools in Fort Worth for more than 20 years.

In 2004, Whitworth became the first Miss America elected to the Miss America Board of Directors. She serves on the Executive Committee as first vice chair, co-chair of the Judges Committee and co-chair of the State License Committee. The Miss America Organization is the largest provider of college scholarships and assistance in the world for women. Her faith is a stronghold of her life and is reflected in her service to the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary as an Advisory Board member working in the areas of women’s ministries and seminary advancement.

Saturday’s game begins at 5 p.m. and marks the final on-campus football game of the 2013 season. Tickets are available for the game and may be purchased online at ArkansasRazorbacks.com or by calling 1-800-982-HOGS (4647).

Contacts

Kevin Trainor, associate athletic director, public relations
Razorback Athletics
479-575-6959, ktrainor@uark.edu

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