Dr. F. Clark Elkins, who was the president of Chadron State College for five and a half years during a time of growth and improvement, died Saturday, Nov. 24, at his home in Jonesboro, Arkansas. He was 94.
Chadron State’s enrollment was 807 in the fall of 1961, a couple of months after he became its sixth president. By the fall of 1965, a few months before he resigned to become president at Northeast Missouri State University which is now Truman State, CSC’s enrollment had nearly doubled.
Five buildings, the Kline Campus Center, the National Guard Armory, Armstrong Gymnasium and Kent and Andrews Residence Halls, were constructed while Elkins was president. Funding also had been obtained for a new heating plant, King Library and High Rise.
Elkins also was credited with recruiting more professors who had doctorates and encouraging faculty already at the college to seek advanced training if it was available. He took steps to strengthen the college’s accreditation status and helped launch the Chadron State Foundation so students could obtain loans and additional scholarships.
Elkins also helped convince the Board of Trustees of the Nebraska State Colleges and ultimately the Legislature to provide more funding for employee salaries and benefits and classroom equipment.
Prior to coming to Chadron State, Elkins had been a history professor at Henderson State College in his native Arkansas. His initial visit to Chadron State was in the fall of 1960, when he was part of a team that was checking the college’s accreditation. A year later he became its president.
Following a two and a half year tenure as president of Truman State, he was a vice president at Arkansas State University at Jonesboro for 11 years and Northern Arizona University at Flagstaff for eight years. He was presented Chadron State’s Distinguished Service Award in August 1989.
Prior to his academic career, he had been a B-29 pilot during World War II, participating in 36 combat missions over Japan.
Elkins was preceded in death by his wife, Norma, in 2012. Survivors include their daughter, Annette; her husband, Paul Bednar; a grandson; a granddaughter; and a great-grandchild, all of Jonesboro.
His funeral will be Tuesday, Nov. 28 in Jonesboro.