Pictured left to right: Chris Thomason, UAHT Chancellor, is presented with a check of $10,500 by J.W. Rowe for the establishment of the J.C. “Jake” Ruppert Endowed Scholarship.

Longtime educator and former Director of Red River Vocational Technical School, J.W. Rowe, has established the J.C. “Jake” Ruppert Endowed Scholarship in memory of his former friend and mentor. The donation includes $10,000 to endow the scholarship and $500 to purchase new hydraulic/pneumatic training equipment for the Industrial Maintenance program at the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana.

“Jake was a visionary in his field,” said J.W. Rowe. He organized one of the first industrial cooperative training programs while serving as the principal of Clarksville High School in 1930-31. He also started and directed the Arkansas Trade School, a forerunner of the current postsecondary technical institutes. He assisted in the development and opening of the first licensed practical nursing school in Little Rock and later helped developed additional practical nursing schools throughout the U.S. “Jake was truly the father of vocational-technical schools in the State of Arkansas and the glue that held the system together.”

Jake worked as the supervisor of Trade and Industrial Education and Coordinator of Postsecondary Area Vocational Technical Schools with the Vocational and Technical Education Division of the Arkansas Department of Education from 1946-77. He also served as president of the National Association of State Supervisors of Trade and Industrial Education where he provided leadership for the organization of the Vocational Industrial Clubs of American, an organization of students enrolled in vocational education programs.

“On September 15, 1953, I interviewed for the Vocational and Adult Education Coordinator job at El Dorado High School and received it,” said Rowe. “Along with that job came a supervisor out of the Department of Education named Jake Ruppert. I did not have a background in vocational education, but Jake came to El Dorado to orientate myself and another coordinator. He was so thorough and knowledgeable in the field that he helped me hit the ground running. In fact, he trained me so well that he eventually hired me as the first assistant director of the first vocational school in Arkansas, located in Pine Bluff, in 1959. He was also instrumental in hiring me as the first director of Red River Vocational Technical School in Hope in 1965.”

Ruppert provided the leadership necessary for the passage of Act 328 of 1957 authorizing the establishment of postsecondary area vocational-technical schools and helped in the planning and implementing of 24 postsecondary state vocational-technical schools, 14 of which became technical colleges, and nine area high school vocational centers. “Without Jake’s help in passing Act 328 and his other work with the legislature, the community college system in Arkansas would not be what it is today,” said Rowe.

“Jake was not only a great business associate and mentor, but he was also a great friend. I hope this scholarship will encourage someone to better themselves because I know that’s what Jake would want. His motto was that the student always came first.”

For more information about scholarships at UAHT, contact Anna Powell at 870-722-8516 or anna.powell@uacch.edu.