McMath Announces Retirement as Dean of Honors College

Bob McMath.
Photo Submitted

Bob McMath.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Robert C. McMath, the first dean of the University of Arkansas Honors College, announced that he will retire in August 2014, following eight years of service as dean.

“The development of the Honors College has truly been the work of many hands,” McMath said. “During my time at the U of A I have been overwhelmed by the talent, collegiality and can-do attitude of our faculty and staff. We have been strongly supported by our provost and chancellor and by some very generous benefactors. Together, we have turned a number of dreams into reality. I look forward to seeing what the Honors College and its amazing students will accomplish in its next decade.”

Under McMath’s leadership, the Honors College has grown 44 percent in student enrollment while continuing to support a very high level of student success. The average college GPA for Honors College students has risen from 3.58 to 3.76, and the college has maintained over a 90 percent retention rate for freshman students since 2005. Honors College students continue to rack up an impressive tally of nationally competitive awards, and the college’s national reputation continues to grow. The Honors College was ranked 17th in “Overall Excellence” in the first national study of 50 leading public honors programs, and ranked 3rd out of all 50 programs in “Excellence Impact.”

McMath came to the U of A in 2005 as dean of the Honors College and has worked to develop strong ties between the college and research-active professors across campus. He has also encouraged interdisciplinary courses and experiences by awarding more than $500,000 in grants. These grants provided seed funding for 30 honors courses on topics ranging from the digital recreation of ancient Roman cities to nanotechnology. McMath also shepherded the completion of a permanent home for the Honors College in the expanded Ozark Hall and the renovation of Hotz Hall as a well-appointed residence hall and community hub for honors freshmen.

“We have been lucky to have Bob McMath as our inaugural Honors College dean,” Chancellor G. David Gearhart said. “He has developed a strong honors community here on campus and led our Honors College to national prominence. His vision for interdisciplinary collaboration has enabled our honors faculty and students to tackle real world issues and put the university in the vanguard of national trends.”

“Bob McMath has done a superb job in building the Honors College from the ground up,” said Provost Sharon Gaber. “Thanks to his leadership, the Honors College has emerged as one of the crown jewels of the University of Arkansas, offering exceptional students and faculty the opportunity to collaborate on research, service learning and study abroad.”

McMath came to the University of Arkansas from Georgia Tech, where he taught history and held a series of administrative posts over the course of 33 years, eventually becoming the first vice provost for undergraduate studies and academic affairs. While at Georgia Tech he received the Governor’s Award in the Humanities and Georgia Tech’s highest teaching awards. In 2004 he was named an honorary alumnus.

In the historical profession McMath is most widely known for his work on American and comparative populist movements. His book, American Populism (1992) is a standard work in the field. He is the author or co-author of seven books and numerous articles. Currently he is starting work on a new book that will explore connections between religion and populist movements in North America.

McMath is a 1967 graduate of the University of North Texas and received his doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1972.

The University of Arkansas will conduct a national search for a new dean of the Honors College.


Bob McMath, dean
Honors College

Kendall Curlee, director of communications
Honors College


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