Arkansas Author: Bob Burns
Let’s meet Dr. Bob Burns, retired community college president. Burns wrote the book An American Dream Comes True (a community college president’s memoir), published by York Publishing Group, based on his experiences at NorthWest Arkansas Community College, where he was the founding president. Burns now lives in Sherwood after retiring from the Bentonville-based college nearly a decade ago. He served at NWACC from 1990 to 2002 and was known for his hard work and drive to help others succeed. Burns recently shared his thoughts on his book with First Arkansas News.
For this answer, Burns pointed us to the book synopsis, which captures the spirit of the book perfectly
“An American Dream Comes True (a community college president’s memoir) is about the creation of opportunities for improving lives. Parallels portrayed in this publication culminated regionally in northwest Arkansas, but the lessons contained in them apply to life in general, regardless of location. These parallels are drawn amongst three interlocking events, first, the 30-year effort to create and develop a two-year college; second, educational opportunities that provide a way out of life circumstances for thousands of individuals in northwest Arkansas; and third, the author’s life pathway through poverty and hardship in the Delta that eventually led him into education and ended with his becoming the founding president of an institution of higher education. The theme of the above referenced triad is this—no adversity, no hardship, nothing, if opposed by the human will, can hold permanently captive the human spirit. In that sense, this work speaks volumes about motivation, achievement, quality of life, and about the benefits of relentless pursuit of life’s goals.”
Who is the target audience?
The target audiences for my book include the following ones: college students, faculty, and administrators; graduate students at universities which have programs in community college education; high school students; and the general public who are interested in motivation, goal setting, and fulfillment.
What inspired you to write the book?
I never intended to write a book when I started out in community college administration, certainly not even after I became the founding president of NWACC. But after I retired in 2002, a former member of the NWACC board of trustees, Eva Lena Mayo of Bentonville, convinced me that the college and community needed a narrative record of the start-up and development of this college.
So, I decided to work on it, to include at least part of the story of the community college in America and how this type of institution of higher education has provided significant opportunities to millions of Americans over the past several decades. There are approximately 1,200 community college serving more than 10,000 students. My book tells part of that story.
Another intent of my book was to share the relentless pursuit by the local community in northwest Arkansas to establish NWACC, starting in the early 1970’s and ending successfully on August 15, 1989 when the voters in the public school districts in Rogers and Bentonville passed a three-mil tax and authorized NWACC.
Third, I wanted to share my story of growing up in the flat land of eastern Arkansas in Cross County on a 40-acre cotton farm, in abject poverty, along with how I knew as a child that education was my way out. Once I obtained that education, I committed my career to help provide similar opportunities for others. NWACC was the culmination of that dream.
Any other thoughts you want to share?
Enrollment at a community college provides many opportunities that can improve lives, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, veteran/non-veteran, or socio-economic background. The community college could have been born and developed only in America. No other nation was founded, as the United States was, on the concept of education and opportunity of the masses of the people. Only in America could this type of two-year college have been nurtured, close to the prople. It became a college of the people, by the people, and for the people. It was an American dream come true.
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