Sondra LaMar, long-time public relations director at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, is leaving UAFS at the end of June, marking almost 42 years working in higher education.
LaMar was hired by the University in 1972 when it was a two-year community college after approaching the president at that time, Dr. Shelby Breedlove. The two created her position, one which other institutions emulated over the years.
LaMar has received 44 national, district, state, and local awards for writing, editing, design, complete promotional campaigns, and television and radio commercials.
The awards are from CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) Recognition Awards, national competition for two- and four-year educational institutions; CASE District IV Awards; NCMPR (National Council for Marketing and Public Relations) Paragon Awards, national competition for two-year educational institutions; NCMPR District IV Awards; UCDA (University and College Designers Association) Awards; Admissions Marketing Report national competition for two- and four-year educational institutions; Fort Smith/Van Buren Advertising Federation ADDY Awards; Arkansas Advertising Federation ADDY Awards; International Reading Association competition; and the Arkansas Education Association competition.
LaMar has also hosted and judged in national competitions and has been a presenter at conferences. She is also a recipient of a Silver Medal Award given in recognition of outstanding contributions to advertising and furthering the industry’s standards, creative excellence, and responsibility in areas of social concern.
LaMar took a photo of Boreham Library which was published last August on the cover of a national library publication, and UAFS has frequent mentions in the online publication of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. She also took a photo of Bill Clinton when he was governor of Arkansas that was published on the front page of a national community college newspaper.
Several years ago she published a workbook for children, “Think in These Things,” and has had articles printed in a magazine published by the Baptist Sunday School Board.
In her role at Westark and UAFS, she developed the college’s public information, news bureau, media liaison, advertising, publications and promotional programs and supervised all phases of the operation until the department was divided in 1991. At that time she opted to stay with the news side and continue what she began in 1972.
Prior to coming to Westark, LaMar was a reporter, traffic and news director, and an education writer for various news media entities, including the Times Record, KFAY and KKEG Radio in Fayetteville, Pine Bluff News, Lawton Constitution, and the Arkansas Democrat.
LaMar, who also oversees the technical crew and runs sound at Haven Heights Baptist Church, is proofing a manuscript for an author and expects to remain professionally active even though she has no immediate plans for retirement other than spending time with her family.
She and husband Charles live in Fort Smith. Daughter Kristin Jones lives with her family in Tahlequah, Okla., where husband Jacob is pastor at Southside Baptist Church. Son Shane Waldrop and his family live in Poteau, Okla., where he is pastor of Fuel Church.