Four Decades of Gratitude: Newsome Reflects on 43-Year Career with UACCM

Mary Newsome, Assistant to the Chancellor of the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton (UACCM) and UACCM’s longest serving employee in the history of the institution, has announced she will retire after 43 years of service on May 7, 2024. 

Friends and members of the community are welcome to join in celebrating Newsome and wish her luck in retirement during her retirement party on Friday, May 3, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the lobby of the Dr. Larry D. Davis Workforce Training Center on the campus of UACCM.

“Mary Newsome is the epitome of class, dedication, honor, and loyalty. What’s unique about Mary is that she exemplifies these qualities in all aspects of life and to all with whom she comes into contact. As the longest-serving employee in the 60-year history of the institution, I am so proud to have called Mary my friend from high school before Petit Jean Vocational Technical School, and my friend for life after UACCM,” said UACCM Chancellor Lisa Willenberg. 

As the longest serving employee in the history of the institution, Newsome has held four different positions during her employment, including Secretary of Student Services, Secretary and Bookkeeper of the Business Office, Administrative Assistant of the Chancellor’s Office, and Assistant to the Chancellor. 

Throughout her time in those positions, she worked closely with several instrumental individuals in the history of the institution who preceded her in retirement, including A.O. Thompson, Director of Student Services, and Dr. Linda Birkner, Vice Chancellor of Administration. 

Newsome has also served three Chancellors at UACCM, the retired Nathan Crook and Dr. Larry Davis, and current Chancellor Willenberg. 

“I am so grateful for Nathan Crook, Dr. Larry Davis, Lisa Willenberg, and all my former supervisors. I am honored to have had the privilege to work for them and with them,” Newsome said. 

Equally impressive, if not more, than the longevity of her career is how she composed herself and treated countless staff, faculty, and students during it. 

“I feel it safe to say UACCM may never again celebrate a more loyal and dedicated individual with a kind and encouraging word for all to exceed 43 years of continued service,” said Willenberg.

In 1991, as a result of the passing of Act 1244 by the Arkansas General Assembly, Petit Jean Vocational-Technical School, originally established in 1963, was converted to a technical college and renamed Petit Jean Technical College. As the college’s role and scope expanded, in 1997 the institution was renamed to Petit Jean College. A few years later, in 2001, the college would join the University of Arkansas System and become UACCM.

Newsome was present for and witnessed all these changes.

“I have seen many facets of this institution as it transitioned from Petit Jean VoTech School to UACCM. It has been an honor to see first-hand how UACCM has grown over the years, from 300 plus students, to approximately 4,000 students in technical, occupational, academic, adult education, and non-credit community education courses,” Newsome said. 

Newsome grew up two miles south of Cleveland, AR, and graduated from Wonderview High School. Following graduation, Newsome enrolled at Petit Jean Vocational Technical School and joined the staff as the Secretary of Student Services in August of 1981. She finished with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Business Education in 1998; and then graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Science in Education in 2007. 

Throughout all her achievements and career, Newsome says the two people who deserve the most credit are her husband, Harold “Jeff” Newsome, and her mother, Modiller McDaniel Canady. 

“Jeff was always my biggest supporter. He still is. Being a wife, mom, working full-time and going to school was a challenge, but with his help, I was able to do it,” Newsome said. “While I put in the work, I could not have done this without him.” 

“My mom was also a huge influence, a great influence. I wanted to make her proud and I believe that I did that,” Newsome continued. “She always told me to do my job and stay out of folk’s way – to handle your own business and stay out of others. I did just that.” 

Newsome’s faith has also been paramount in the success and longevity of her career, she says. “Without God, none of this would have been possible. I thank Him every day for the blessing that UACCM has been.” 

It is difficult to picture UACCM without Newsome working somewhere behind the scenes, but she assures that while she is enjoying retirement and being surrounded by her family and grandchildren, she will always be UACCM’s biggest fan. 

“UACCM has impacted and will continue to impact so many lives. I have no doubt that the future of UACCM is bright and in good hands,” said Newsome.

“I look forward with excitement to seeing it continue to flourish in the years to come.”


  1. Congratulations Auntie! You deserve the best!


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