An art piece was dedicated to the University of Arkansas at Hope-Texarkana today in commemoration of the college’s 50 year anniversary. The sculpture, entitled “Education: The Window to a Better World,” was produced by regional award winning artist and Hope, Arkansas, native Judy Wright Walter, now a resident of Texarkana, Arkansas. “The two inspirations in the design of the art piece were commemorating the growth of the college over the past 50 years and honoring some of the college’s key leaders in the process,” said Walter.
The College, originally Red River Vocational-Technical School, was established in 1965. Red River operated as a vocational-technical school until June 30, 1991. On July 1, 1991, Red River Vocational-Technical School officially became Red River Technical College and operated under the guidelines of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. In 1995, the Arkansas Legislature passed an act that provided for the merger of state two-year colleges and universities. On March 5, 1996, the citizens of Hempstead County approved a 1/4-cent sales tax to support the expansion of the College. On July 1, 1996, Red River Technical College became a division of the University of Arkansas System and was renamed the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope. In 2012, the College took a historic step forward in its commitment to serving the entire region with the opening of the UA-Texarkana campus in Texarkana, Arkansas.
In her artist’s statement Walter said, “My vision was to represent the roots of the college and its evolution into providing an expanded education to its students. The basic centerpiece represents the vocational-technical building blocks using actual pieces from the college’s storage of scrap metal.” She continued, “The two lateral pieces represent the expanding educational opportunities. On the one side, providing windows to the larger world, on the other side depicting a ladder of expansion that leads students to a widening view of their universe.”
In the last 50 years, the college has endeavored to expand the educational opportunities for students. In September 1966, Red River Vocational-Technical School graduated the first class in the school’s history with 9 students receiving heavy equipment certificates. In 2016, the college awarded 596 degrees and certificates. The college has awarded 7,626 degrees and certificates since 1993. Since 2005 the UofA Hope-Texarkana Foundation has awarded students over $550,000 in scholarships, with $85,675 being awarded in the 2016-17 academic year.
UofA Hope-Texarkana Chancellor Chris Thomason stated, “It is very difficult to capture the meaning and expanse of the service of our campus to our region over the last 50 years. It is equally as difficult for our institution to demonstrate the transformative effect that the support of so many in our service area has had in moving our campus, students and employees forward for so many years. I am confident that the artistic vision of Ms. Walter will provide all of us and future generations with a sculpture piece that reflects on our past history and service while projecting our collective commitment to a brighter future for us all through educational excellence.”
For more information about the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana or to enroll, call 870-777-5722.