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Barney Alan Sugg (1938–)

Barney Alan Sugg became a leader in higher education in the latter part of the twentieth century, serving in high-level positions at a number of southwestern colleges over the course of a career that spanned almost four decades and included over twenty years as president of the University of Arkansas System.

B. Alan Sugg was born on April 29, 1938, in Helena (Phillips County). His father, Bernard (Barney) Sugg, was school superintendent in Barton (Phillips County), while his mother, Louise Sugg, was a schoolteacher. Sugg had an older sister and two younger brothers. He graduated from Helena’s Central High School in 1956 and then enrolled in the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Sugg—who had been the high school state champion in pole vaulting—received a track-and-field scholarship to UA, as well as a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship. Sugg was elected president of the UA student body. After graduating in 1960 with a degree in finance, Sugg married his high school sweetheart, Jean Bussell. The couple went on to have two daughters.

Sugg spent the first four years after graduation fulfilling his ROTC commitment, a responsibility that was satisfied primarily by a three-year military stint in Germany. Sugg and his wife then returned to the United States, and he pursued graduate studies at UA in higher education administration. He also served as an assistant to the university’s vice president of finance. After receiving his master’s degree, Sugg served as the assistant to the president of East Texas State University, Dr. Whit Halliday. Halliday was a former dean at UA whom Sugg had gotten to know as student body president. Sugg worked with Halliday for four years at East Texas State. When Halliday became president of Corpus Christi State University in 1972, Sugg joined him as executive vice president.

Sugg earned a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Oklahoma in 1971. In 1977, Halliday assumed the presidency of the University of Texas System, and Sugg succeeded him as president of Corpus Christi State University, a post he held until 1990. At Corpus Christi, Sugg oversaw the construction of new dormitories, the first effort to develop a residential program for what was historically a commuter school. He also oversaw the beginnings of the school’s move into the Texas A&M University System.

In 1990, Sugg returned to his home state to serve as president of the University of Arkansas System, with the chancellors of each of the individual campuses reporting to him. He oversaw the growth and consolidation of the university system, an effort that featured the inclusion of five community colleges as well as what is now the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith (UAFS). Overall, enrollment in the system more than doubled during Sugg’s years at the helm, as the university system also added the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, the Criminal Justice Institute, the Clinton School of Public Service, and the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts. In addition, Suggs also successfully spearheaded a campaign to increase private fundraising, an effort that helped finance and facilitate the system’s expansion.

When Sugg, who was lauded for his service as an educational statesman and an ambassador for Arkansas, retired after the 2010–11 academic year, his term of service was the second longest in university history. At the time of his graduation, the seventy-three-year-old Sugg said that he planned to spend more time with his two daughters and their families, all of whom lived in Texas, and to travel.

For additional information:
“B. Alan Sugg.” Office of the Chancellor, University of Arkansas. https://chancellor.uark.edu/presidents-chancellors/b-alan-sugg.php (accessed April 7, 2016).

“B. Alan Sugg Interview.” David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History. University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. http://pryorcenter.uark.edu/interview.php?thisProject=Arkansas%20Memories&thisInterview=SUGG-Alan&displayName=%20B.%20Alan%20Sugg (accessed April 7, 2016).

De Moss, Nick. “UA President to Retire Next Year.” Arkansas Traveler, May 20, 2010. http://www.uatrav.com/news/article_98dbabce-c952-5670-ba03-23ea0e92d205.html (accessed April 7, 2016).

William H. Pruden III
Ravenscroft School

Last Updated 4/13/2016

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