PINE BLUFF, AR – Lifelong educator and chancellor emeritus Dr. Carolyn F. Blakely of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), to be inducted into the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame. While at UAPB, she developed the Honors College and served as Dean. At the request of students, it was renamed in her honored. Her contributions to the community, education, and civic organizations have impacted countless individuals in Arkansas and beyond.

She was born in Magnolia, Arkansas and raised by her grandmother after her mother’s death. She graduated as valedictorian of her high school. She attended Arkansas AM&N College, later renamed to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and went on to earn her master’s degree in English at Atlanta University. She became the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate degree in English at Oklahoma State University.

She took a teaching positions in various universities, but returned to her alma mater as a member of the English department. She eventually made her way into the administration, serving as interim vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and later, interim chancellor, and finally Interim Chair of the Department of English, Theater and Mass Communications. She became the first woman to serve as chancellor of a publicly supported, four-year institution of higher education in Arkansas.

She was part of a group that founded the Pine Bluff Symphony Orchestra, which was formed out of the public school’s String Music Program. Blakely had established an instrument rental program, which encouraged students to participate in the school orchestra class with the end goal of having students who could play with a professional orchestra.

Blakley has been also named one of Arkansas “Top 100 Women” three times; was elected president of the National Association of African-American Honors Programs, and received the NAACP Education Award. She has also served on the boards of several community and civic organizations, including the Arkansas Schools for the Blind and Deaf, Arkansas Humanities Council, United Way, Arkansas Community Foundation Board, the Susan G. Komen Board, and the Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield Advisory Board.

Blakley will be included into the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame on Thursday, August 30, 2018, at 7 p.m. at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. To purchase tickets, click here.


The goal of the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame (AWHF) is to honor, in perpetuity, women whose contributions have influenced the direction of Arkansas in their community or the state.   The AWHF inducts contemporary (living) or historical (deceased) women who have been born in and achieved prominence within the state, or been a resident of Arkansas for an extended period after achieving prominence here or elsewhere and have:

  • Made significant and enduring contributions to their field of endeavor, professional or otherwise
  • Impacted the social, cultural, economic or political well-being of the community, state or nation
  • Elevated the status of women and positively impacted women and girls
  • Helped open new frontiers for women and for society in general
  • Inspired others by their example

The legacy of these great women should be shared and honored. The Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame is dedicated to preserving the history of accomplishments and recognizing women across the state of Arkansas. It also provides women encouragement and inspiration from stories shared by these great women. For more information, visit

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