Dean Of Honors College Named

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Robert C. McMath Jr. has been named dean of the UA Honors College, Provost Bob Smith announced Wednesday.

McMath, 60, comes to the U of A from the Georgia Institute of Technology where he has been a professor of history and vice provost for undergraduate studies and academic affairs.

University of Arkansas Chancellor John A. White said, “We are very pleased Bob and Linda McMath will be joining the University of Arkansas family.

“Having worked with Dr. McMath at Georgia Tech for many years, I know first-hand what awaits the Honors College and the University of Arkansas -- accelerated pursuit of our vision. He will contribute greatly to the pursuit, since he is truly nationally competitive in his teaching, research and service, and he is one of the most student-centered academics it has been my privilege to know.”

Provost Bob Smith added, “We are absolutely delighted that Dr. McMath has accepted our offer to become the inaugural dean of the Honors College.  Based on his credentials, accomplishments at Georgia Tech and feedback received from everyone who participated in the search process, I cannot imagine anyone better positioned to help us build the best honors college in the world.”

McMath’s position at the U of A will be effective Aug. 1, 2005, at an annual salary of $200,000. He will report to the provost.

“The University of Arkansas has an amazing opportunity to create something very special through its Honors College,” McMath said. “I have been impressed by the work of the faculty members in developing honors programs at the University of Arkansas, by the leadership of Chancellor White and his staff in championing the new Honors College and by the generosity of the Walton Family Foundation, which is turning dreams into reality. I am honored to lead this vitally important effort.”

The UA Honors College was established and endowed in April 2002 as a result of the $300 million gift commitment from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation of Bentonville. Some $200 million from that gift was earmarked for the Honors College. The search for the Honors College dean began in fall 2003.

When fully operational, the honors college will enroll about 2,000 students. The intent is to attract those high-ability students who often are lured out of state to other universities and colleges. It also is designed to attract talented out-of-state students to Arkansas. Another goal is to provide graduates who will want to live in the state after graduation and provide the leadership needed to fuel economic development and cultural change.

“The Honors College will do more than benefit the students who participate in it directly, as important as that is for them and their families,” McMath said. “It will also provide a means for enhancing teaching and learning for all undergraduates at the University of Arkansas. The result will certainly be a growing national recognition of the tremendous quality of this university.”

McMath received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and a Master of Arts degree in history from North Texas State University (now known as the University of North Texas). In 1972, he received his doctoral degree in American history from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. After receiving his doctorate, he began teaching at Georgia Tech.

As vice provost at Georgia Tech, McMath oversees student academic services and coordinates campuswide initiatives to improve the teaching and learning environment for undergraduates, including the design of a new undergraduate learning center. As a professor of history he continues to teach undergraduate courses and supervise graduate students. He has received the George W. Griffith Award for Outstanding Teaching and the Dean James E. Dull Administrator of the Year Award, both at Georgia Tech, and the Governor’s Award for the Humanities. In 2004 he was made an honorary alumnus of Georgia Tech.

McMath is the author or co-author of seven books and numerous articles on American history and the history of the American South. He co-authored and edited Engineering the New South: Georgia Tech, 1885-1985, which was published as part of Georgia Tech’s centennial celebration. The book has been widely praised among historians as one of the best scholarly studies of American universities. In the historical profession he is best known for his work on populism, including his book American Populism: A Social History.

McMath’s wife, Linda, is a public school administrator in DeKalb County. Their two grown children, David and Angela, both live and work in the San Francisco Bay area, along with their spouses. Bob and Linda are currently collaborating on a historical travel guide to the eastern shore of Virginia and Maryland.

 

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