ASU Mid-South Publicity Coordinator parks his pen

Threm set to retire in 2016

From Diane Hampton ASU Mid-South

In the past 18 years, well over 2,000 stories written by Don Threm have appeared on the pages of Crittenden County’s Evening Times newspaper, translating into approximately four million words Threm has used to publicize Mid-South Community College and Arkansas State University Mid-South. Millions of words, however, are not adequate for this writer to appropriately honor a great colleague in announcing the retirement of Don Threm effective Jan. 8, 2016. Threm began his career at Mid-South Community College in 1998 after serving in a similar position at East Arkansas Community College in Forrest City, which included a stint as Registrar for EACC, replacing Dr. Debra West who became Chancellor of ASU Mid-South in August of this year. “We’ve known each other for close to thirty-five years, and we’ve worked together through thick and thin at two different institutions of higher education,” said Dr. West. “I can say, unequivocally, that I know of no other person who embodies the words integrity, dependability, and humility as does Don. He has a quiet competence that belies a quick, dry sense of humor that only reveals itself once you’ve really gotten to know him. The college will miss his extraordinary talents as a writer once he retires, but I personally will miss my friend.” Threm readily admits his first love in journalism is sports writing. It was that love that started his reporting career as Sports Editor at the Forrest City Times Herald. During his eleven years with the paper, he performed a wide array of duties but enjoyed sports reporting and photography above all. While there, he covered five different high school sports programs in St. Francis County. Once while reporting from a football game Threm recalls, “A guy yelled over the fence ‘When you gonna get a real job?’ I said, ‘I don’t want a real job; going to games and getting paid for it is much more fun.’” Threm’s fondness of sports writing carries over into participation in sporting endeavors including tennis, swimming (twice as part of a Mightymite Triathlon team), walking, jogging (everything from the Greyhound 5K to the Mid-South Half Marathon), and biking. In his younger years, he played hundreds of recreational league softball games.  In addition to Threm’s love of sports, he has a well-known passion for promoting student success, something that has endeared him to many Mid-South students, faculty, and staff. “Don is a true worker in the best sense of the word. He always captures the essence of our service to students and the community in his work. Don has been vital to telling the story of our college, and frankly, the story could not have been told without him,” explained Dr. Cliff Jones, Senior Vice Chancellor for Learning and Instruction. “Higher education has been a fulfilling career for me,” says Threm. “It is really gratifying to see people come to realize of the importance of going to college. We are providing something of great value to them. Without higher education these days, you simply can’t go anywhere.” “My favorite story is of those who decided later in life that they needed education to better themselves. I have a soft spot for non-traditional students because I admire their courage and desire to start over even when the prospect scares them. That’s why I have always liked graduation. It’s a time to see students finish what they had started. So many are first generation college grads, and it is a major accomplishment for the whole family. They always have big smiles on their faces, and it’s rewarding to be able to share in that experience.” When asked to describe the “biggest” story during his nearly two decades of publicizing Mid-South, Threm narrowed it to the first ten-year Higher Learning Commission accreditation of Mid-South Community College in November of 2003. “It was what we wanted, what we needed. It was a story I was proud to write because the evaluators gave us much praise and recognition for how hard we had worked.” Threm recalls few releases that were difficult to write, but notes that his story of the recent retirement of longtime Executive Vice President Dr. Barbara Baxter was indeed one. “I worked closely with her on numerous projects, and she was such an asset to the college and a friend to me. She always supported and encouraged me, so it was really tough to see her leave.” Deborah Webb, Executive Assistant who has worked closely with Threm for his 18 years at the college, commented:  “Gentle, kind and unassuming, Don Threm has provided our community an inside look at the college. His articles never cease to say something – in just a particular way – that causes me pause. His talent with the written word is immeasurable.” “In my mind, Don embodies all of the most positive aspects of the college’s culture,” added Pete Sullivan, ASU Mid-South Graphic Designer. “He’s extremely smart, hard-working and helpful, always willing to lend his expertise or share his vast institutional knowledge with coworkers and students alike. Not only has he shaped the college from the inside, but he has been one of the most influential voices in shaping how the college is perceived from the outside. He’s easily one of the most talented writers I’ve ever been around, and on a personal note, I’m very sad to be losing a fantastic office mate.” “Every good journalist knows that stories must include ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’ and ‘why.’  For 18 years, Don Threm has been the who, what, where, when and why for Mid-South. He has been our story teller. This institution has a great story, but a story can only be as good as the one who tells it,” noted Diane Hampton, ASU Mid-South’s Vice Chancellor of Institutional Advancement and Threm’s current supervisor. A native of California who has lived in Arkansas for almost 50 years, Threm earned a National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development award in 2001 and received multiple Super Adjunct honors while teaching computer software classes at the college from 2000 to 2011. Together with Twilla, his wife of 33 years who also retired from higher education, Threm plans to spend time with his family which includes two married daughters living nearby in Arkansas and his granddaughter. A graduate of Arkansas State University and a resident of Jonesboro since moving from Wynne in 2011, Threm hopes to keep his hand in writing through freelance opportunities in and around Craighead County. “I don’t have any big plans, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity for a more leisurely lifestyle. However, it will be with mixed emotions that I leave Mid-South. The college has been blessed with many great and talented people, and I will miss working with them. When I think of the people at Mid-South, both students and staff, words like ‘courage,’ ‘challenge,’ ‘change’ and ‘achievement’ come to mind. As in my early days as a sports editor, I thoroughly enjoyed telling their stories. Reporting the great news about Mid-South has always seemed much more like fun than work.”

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