Big Shoes


Big Shoes
Joel Anderson

In this time of personal “branding,” modesty and humility are no longer seen as virtues. That’s unfortunate because Harry Truman’s observation that “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit” still holds true.

Example: Joel Anderson, who has just retired from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock after 45 years there, the last 13 of them as chancellor.

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We’re indebted to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for its story last week on the departing Anderson, a story that listed a few of his accomplishments:

♦ The creation of UALR’s Institute on Race & Ethnicity. Race became an issue for Anderson when he was a student at the then-segregated Harding College. “But the occasional private comments by a few faculty members that racial segregation was wrong — morally wrong, wrong from a Christian point of view — really caught my attention and bothered me.”

♦  The development, in Anderson’s role as the first dean of UALR’s graduate school, of its 17 master’s degree programs.

♦  In his role as UALR’s provost, the addition of doctoral degree programs and of research to UALR’s mission, as well as his oversight of the new Donaghey College of Engineering & Information Technology and the affiliation with what’s now the Bowen School of Law.

♦  His leadership of UALR through tough financial times, when, said Faculty Senate President Andrew Wright, “He was a stabilizing influence.”

♦  His efforts to revitalize the University District.

Jay Chesshir of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce told the newspaper that Anderson is “an example of someone who is a driving force, but others don’t know it.”

“Whoever got the credit, he did not care,” Chesshir said.

Here’s hoping that Andrew Rogerson, Anderson’s replacement, keeps his example — long on achievement, short on credit-seeking — in mind.