Past Presidents

1990-2011 B. Alan Sugg

Under the leadership of Dr. B. Alan Sugg, enrollment in the UA System surged from some 30,000 students on five campuses to almost 70,000 students across 17 campuses and units. Also during this time, the colleges and universities of the UA system granted nearly 150,000 academic degrees. His tenure also saw $2 billion in new construction and major renovation projects completed on UA System campuses.

Sugg attended the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, on a track scholarship. Upon completing his undergraduate studies at the UA, he was commissioned into the U.S. Army and stationed in Germany. He later received his master’s degree from the University of Arkansas and his doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Oklahoma.

Prior to becoming UA System president, he served higher education in the state of Texas for 22 years, including 13 years as president of Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi.

1984-90 Ray Thornton

During a time of tumult for administrative leadership on the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville campus, Ray Thornton was named president of the University of Arkansas System. The Board of Trustees had offered the chancellorship to a new candidate after the brief tenure of B.A. Nugent, but the candidate abruptly rejected the chancellorship upon hearing that Thornton’s predecessor, James Martin, had resigned as president. Thornton was hired as president the same day, having served as president of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro the previous three years.

Prior to ASU, he had served as a congressman from Arkansas’s 4th District and before that as Arkansas attorney general. He received his bachelor’s degree from Yale University in 1950 and a law degree from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, in 1956.

During his presidency, Thornton orchestrated removal of the president’s office from the Fayetteville campus to a separate administrative office in Little Rock. Thornton left the presidency in 1989 and returned to politics, serving three terms in Congress. In 1996, he was elected an associate justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court, before retiring in 2004. He most recently served as a fellow at the William Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.


1980-84 James E. Martin

1974-80 Charles E. Bishop

1960-74 David Wiley Mullins

1952-59 John Tyler Caldwell

1947-51 Lewis Webster Jones

1941-47 Arthur M. Harding

1939-41 J. William Fulbright

1913-39 John C. Futrall

1905-12 John N. Tillman

1902-05 Henry S. Hartzog

1894-1902 John L. Buchanan

1887-94 Edward H. Murfee

1884-87 George M. Edgar

1877-84 Daniel H. Hill

1875-77 Noah P. Gates

1873-75 Albert W. Bishop

1871-73 Noah P. Gates