Alumna's Love of Education Inspires Scholarship for Fulbright Students

Mary Jane See Adamson.
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Mary Jane See Adamson.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – To all who knew and loved her, University of Arkansas alumna and lifelong education advocate Mary Jane See Adamson was sui generis, or in a class by herself. And after being a guiding light for her family and hundreds of students, her husband and children wanted to memorialize her for generations to come by establishing a scholarship in her name.   

Thanks to a $200,000 gift from her husband, Dr. James Adamson of Little Rock and her three children, Leslie Sogandares of Reston, Virginia; Jim Adamson III of Little Rock and Paige Westbrook of Birmingham, the Mary Jane See Adamson Scholarship Endowment has been established in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences to benefit students in the Department of English.

“This gift reflects her strong feelings for the benefits that can be gained from a broad college education, her love for the University of Arkansas and the education she received during her four years as an undergraduate student,” said Dr. Adamson.

Mary Jane See Adamson was born in Little Rock but spent most of her pre-collegiate years in Marianna. She enrolled as a freshman at the U of A in 1954, following her brother, Jack F. See Jr., who came to the university in 1953.

Adamson majored in English and earned her degree in 1958, ranking first in the senior class and first in the College of Arts and Sciences in both semesters of her senior year. She received several academic recognitions, including membership in Alpha Lambda Delta, the freshman honorary society; Sigma Delta Pi, the Spanish honorary fraternity, where she served as president; and Lambda Iota Tau, the honorary English fraternity. Her most cherished recognition was membership in Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest national honor society for the liberal arts and sciences in the United States. Her achievement was marked with congratulatory letters from Senator J. William Fulbright and Congressman E.C. “Took” Gathings, the congressional representative from east Arkansas at the time.

Mary Jane See Adamson – who went by Jane – met James Adamson two months after graduating from the U of A. Her career as a middle school English teacher took her first to Memphis and then back to Little Rock. Later, she participated as a tutor in the first volunteer reading program in the Little Rock School District at Gibbs Elementary and then at Forest Park and Pulaski Heights elementary schools.

The three Adamson children shared their mother’s devotion to education and each pursued advanced degrees.

“We were married for almost 57 years, and our three children and I wanted to honor her in a way we thought would bring lasting recognition to her life,”  Adamson said.

The Mary Jane See Adamson Scholarship Endowment will benefit undergraduate English majors who are residents of Arkansas, demonstrate financial need and carry a G.P.A. of at least 3.0.

“Being able to honor such an amazing woman as Mary Jane See Adamson while seeing her family forward this lasting legacy of education is inspiring,” said Todd Shields, dean of Fulbright College. “We are grateful for their generosity, and so proud to call Jane an alumna.”

Jane’s family said she had a multitude of enviable traits.

“Her intelligence, her ability to put her mind in gear before opening her mouth, to connect constructively with others, and to see the positives in life’s situations — these were characteristics which she conveyed to the four of us almost on a daily basis.” Dr. Adamson said.

The Adamsons learned that Jane had a precursor condition that would likely lead to multiple myeloma and they lived with that knowledge for 38 years before the disease became active.

“In 2014, because of the risks she felt she would experience from the stem cell transplant she was to undergo, she began writing her obituary,” James said. “She never finished her story – although she survived the transplant – and died somewhat unexpectedly 17 months later during the final of many therapeutic regimens. In that unfinished narrative, she wrote, ‘Jane never gave up her intense belief in education for all in the public school system.’”

“She was our rock, our compass, our tugboat, our guiding light,” he said. “We are very pleased to establish this award and hope those who receive it will give a brief thought to the wonderful woman for whom it is named.”


About the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences: The J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is the largest and most academically diverse unit on campus with 19 departments and 43 academic programs and research centers. The college provides the core curriculum for all University of Arkansas students and is named for J. William Fulbright, former university president and longtime U.S. senator.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Jennifer Holland, director of development communications
University Relations


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