Dr. Raye J. Montague – UA Little Rock’s trailblazer to be honored at Fribourgh Award Reception
August 19-25, 2019
By Becca Bona
For the 10th anniversary of the Fribourgh Award, UA Little Rock plans to honor a true trailblazer – the late Dr. Raye J. Montague. This occasion is momentous, as Dr. Montague is the first African American woman to be honored posthumously with this award.
The UA Little Rock Fribourgh Award recognizes contributions to Arkansas through science and mathematics. Proceeds from this year’s awards reception will go to endow a scholarship in Dr. Raye J. Montague’s name.
“It’s very pleasing to us to be able to honor the great Dr. Raye Montague who we call our own hidden figure,” said Dr. Sarah Beth Estes, the dean of the College of Arts, Letters and Sciences at UA Little Rock. “We honor her not only for all of her achievements, but also with a hope of propelling and inspiring women to get involved in the STEM arena.”
The new scholarship in Dr. Montague’s name will be given with preference to students studying math and science at UA Little Rock.
Much planning went into this momentous decision. Jerry Damerow, a local CPA and active member of the UA Little Rock Dean’s Council is the presenting sponsor for this year’s award reception. Although not originally from Arkansas, Damerow and his wife Sherri have long called the Natural State home.
“I care deeply about our state and I care deeply about UA Little Rock. The importance of its mission to central Arkansas cannot be overstated,” said Damerow.
Even though Damerow’s background is not in math or science, he feels compelled to get involved with UA Little Rock and specifically those fields, as he sees them moving various industries – including his own – forward.
“We’re going through a major transformation in our economy – it’s causing a huge amount of disruption and it’s having a large effect on jobs,” he said. Damerow notes the fast-paced changes new technologies have brought into various fields from agriculture to the traditional banking arena. He sees the future changing drastically and wants to help make sure UA Little Rock is ahead of that curve.
“Our students here at UA Little Rock are not going to be prepared for the jobs of the future if we don’t give them solid grounding in STEM education and in the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences where the core science and mathematics courses are located. […] If we don’t build this foundation for Arkansas – our students aren’t going to be prepared for the jobs of the future, and our economy is going to suffer.”
Damerow also believes that Dr. Montague’s inspiring story is compelling and hopes that it can be the inspirational spike for young dreamers looking at entering a similar science or math-based field.
“When I think about what [Dr. Montague] did at a time when not only women but women of color had such huge barriers – and they still have barriers – […] this woman was truly incredible. I’m hoping this year as part of the awards that young women of color will recognize that they can become engineers, because the door is open.”
This year’s awards reception will take place on Oct. 10, 2019. The event will also celebrate the newly endowed scholarship in Dr. Montague’s name.
The award is also special this year, thanks to family ties within the UA Little Rock community. Even though Dr. Montague did not attend UA Little Rock, she had close ties to the university, thanks to her son, now a staff member. Dr. David Montague serves within the department of Criminal Justice and will accept the award on behalf of his mother.
“He’s on faculty and he’s the director of our online campus,” said Dr. Estes. “We are excited to honor this amazing woman in conjunction with her son who is such an integral part of our university community and our larger community.”
To purchase tickets to the event, visit https://ualr.edu/giving/event/fribourgh-award-reception-2019/#wc-tickets. For information about sponsorship opportunities, visit: https://ualr.edu/giving/product/fribourgh-award-reception-2019-sponsorships/.
This year’s event will honor the late Dr. Raye J. Montague and endow a scholarship in her name. Dr. Raye Montague is pictured with her son, Dr. David Montague, director of eLearning and professor of criminal justice at the university. (Photo Courtesy UA Little Rock Communications)