Lucille Speakman Legacy Endowment
When Randy Wewers a 1958 graduate of Fort Smith Junior College reconnected with his alma mater 30 years ago, he had one driving reason; he wanted to do something to recognize a professor who changed his life by the name of Miss Lucille Speakman.
He wasn’t sure exactly how to honor her. He knew she wouldn’t care much about having a building or a fountain named after her. But as he became more deeply involved with the University – eventually joining the Foundation’s Board of Directors and later the Alumni Advisory Council – an idea started to percolate.
What if he could do something to perpetuate Speakman’s legacy of great classroom teaching – the vivid, evocative lectures; the devotion to her students’ success; the clear-eyed fascination with her world that generations of her students talked about for the rest of their lives.
With time, that idea evolved into the Lucille Speakman Legacy Endowment – a fund to support current UAFS faculty members to do the same kinds of things that made Speakman so admired. The result was the establishment of the Lucille Speakman Legacy Endowment and an effort Wewers spearheaded to raise $100,000 to that would honor not just Speakman, but all professors who have similarly distinguished themselves in the eyes of those whose opinions matter most – their students.
Today, Wewers dream is a reality. The endowment he established has made $10,000 in awards to deserving UAFS faculty to support their efforts to improve their classroom performance and thus improve the lives of their students.
If you would like to continue to support UAFS faculty as they strive to improve themselves and our students please consider making a donation to the Lucille Speakman Endowment.
To learn more about Mr. Wewers efforts please read his letter below. To find out how you can help, call the Alumni office at 479-788-7920 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each of us carries in our memories that special teacher who led us, pushed us, admonished us, and in so many ways molded us as only great teachers can do. We were awakened from mediocrity, captivated by what those who went before had done, emboldened to excel in our life’s endeavors.
For me, that teacher was Lucille Speakman, who taught at Fort Smith Junior College and then Westark from 1945 to 1976. She brought her courses to life, instilled in many of us the values we have retained since then, and served as an example to be emulated by the teachers who have come after her. Her teaching literally changed the course of my life.
For years now, I’ve wanted to do something to honor both Lucille and the many other fine professors who have made the same kind of difference in the lives of other students—from 1928, when Fort Smith Junior College was founded, to the present. After discussions with the folks at the UA Fort Smith Foundation, I believe I’ve found a fitting way to do that.
You see, Lucille wouldn’t want a building or a fountain named after her. Teaching and her students were her life. I believe if she were here today she would say the best way we could honor her—and the many others who taught in the same tradition—would be by perpetuating her legacy of excellent teaching and devotion to her students’ success.
That is exactly the intent of the Lucille Speakman Legacy Endowment. It will honor the legacy of teaching excellence at FSJC, Westark, and UA Fort Smith by helping today’s faculty inspire their own students the way Lucille inspired me, the way another professor likely inspired you. The enclosed card will tell you more about how the endowment will be administered.
Please consider joining me in recognizing our University’s long tradition of teaching excellence and honoring the many fine professors who have been a part of it. We seek to raise $100,000 to establish the endowment. I’m confident that if every one of you whose life was changed by a special teacher like Lucille gave $100, we’d far exceed that goal.
Of course, you may make your gift in the name of any faculty member you wish, past or present, with the opportunity to have his or her name added to a prominent plaque—a sort of “Faculty Hall of Fame”—to be placed on the campus.
Together, we as alumni can make a meaningful difference in the future of our University while at the same time keeping its past alive.
Randy Wewers '58
Randy Wewers '58