Although he doesn’t remember the date, Randy Wewers, a member of the Fort Smith Junior College class of 1958, remembers the day he returned to the campus of the college that meant so much to him.
“I looked for the Alumni Office,” he said recently about that day in the 1990s. “I couldn’t find it, so I went to the Student Union and asked a couple of folks where it could be. Not only did they not know, but they also weren’t sure what I was looking for. I was sent to the development office and told to ask for Carolyn Branch (Moore). I went there and learned there was no alumni office.”
This kicked off a renewed relationship between Wewers and his alma mater. When, in 2007, the Alumni Association with Anne Thomas as alumni director was formed, Wewers was watching. He was a member of the UAFS Foundation Board until 2011 when he turned his full attention back to the Alumni Association.
It was no surprise then when Wewers received the first Diligence to Victory award in 2008. The highest recognition made by the Alumni Association, the award was named for the motto of the FSJC class of 1928, “through diligence to victory.” Recipients are alumni who have distinguished themselves through service to the university, their community, state, or nation, or whose outstanding leadership in their business or professional lives exemplifies this motto.
But Wewer’s contributions to the university are not limited to his board service. In 2010, Wewers reached out to fellow alumni to remember beloved FSJC professor, Lucille Speakman. In honor of her legacy of excellent classroom teaching, especially her ability to expose Fort Smith students to the world through desciption of her travels, Wewers proposed a fund that would make annual grants to faculty members to enhance their classroom teaching. Often applications seek help funding travel, something that especially evokes Speakman’s memory.
In 2017, the first Lucille Speakman Legacy Endowment award was made. That year Randy Wewers was on hand to present the award at the Homecoming Reunion Social to assistant professor of art history, Dr. Mary Shepard. And he gave the award at Homecoming to each subsequent winner: Dr. Kiyun Han, associate professor of electronics technology, in 2018; Dr. Lindsy Lawrence, professor of English, in 2019; and Dr. Mohammad Halim, assistant professor of chemistry, in 2020.
“The Alumni Association is a vital connection between our graduates and the university,” Director Rick Goins said. “And it is not overstating the case to say the association exists because Randy Wewers went looking for it. His diligence to victory is remarkable.”
Wewers remains humble. “All of this was of great satisfaction for me to play even a small part in seeing a small school grow into a major educational factor in Western Arkansas and the Arkansas and Oklahoma region, and surely the state of Arkansas,” he said.