Robert S. Moore Jr. given distinguished alumni award
May 24, 2022 - Felley Lawson
Arkansas Highway Commission Chairman Robert S. Moore Jr. received the Distinguished Alumni Award for Public Service to the State of Arkansas from Ouachita during an August luncheon held on campus in his honor.
The award was presented to Moore by Dr. Ben R. Sells, Ouachita president, and Taylor King, chair of the university’s Board of Trustees.
“Robert Moore has distinguished himself and his alma mater throughout his long, remarkable history of public service to our state,” Sells said. “We’re appreciative of his work, along with members of the highway commission and the Department of Transportation, to secure the many investments being made to help Arkadelphia and Clark County.”
Sells added, “We’re excited about the completion of local projects totaling more than $70 million, including improvements to Pine Street, two new bridges and construction of a bypass for the 200 logging trucks that daily come through Arkadelphia, which will increase safety and mobility in our area. These projects are very important to Ouachita’s future.”
Moore is a native of Arkansas City, Ark. He and his wife Beverly reside on their farm near Moore’s hometown, where they remain active in tourism-related economic development. Moore was inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame in 2019 for his years of work in this area throughout the Delta. The trailhead for the Delta Heritage Trail State Park in Arkansas City is named in his honor.
Moore’s father, Robert Sr., was a student-athlete at Ouachita and received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Ouachita posthumously following his death in a car accident in 1973. He had served as sheriff of Desha County.
As a member of the 1966 Arkansas high school football all-star team, Moore fielded scholarship offers from a number of colleges—including Ouachita.
“I was ‘highly encouraged’ by Dad that the offer from Ouachita was the only one to consider,” Moore recalled. “And of course he was right, as he most often was!” adding that his father “had a very strong influence on my life at that time, and continues to have that influence with me now, well into my 70s.”
After one semester at Ouachita, Moore’s football scholarship became a basketball scholarship and he joined then-Coach Bill Vining’s team. He also pledged Rho Sigma men’s social club, which he served as president, and was a member of ROTC.
“The friendships made, the knowledge imparted by caring instructors and the fundamentals of decency and dedication instilled by Coach Vining cannot be overstated,” Moore said. “Ouachita provided the essential foundation blocks of my adult life. A very large part of whatever successes I’ve enjoyed are tied to the influences and experiences from my four years as a student- athlete there.”
Following graduation from Ouachita, Moore was commissioned a captain in the United States Army and was a pilot during the Vietnam War. He has given more than 40 years to public service, including three terms representing District 12 in the Arkansas House of Representatives, where he was elected speaker in 2011. Securing funding for highway improvements was one of his top legislative priorities.
As a student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law, Moore worked as an intern to then-Arkansas AG Jim Guy Tucker and stayed on as assistant attorney general after graduation. He served former Gov. David Pryor as chairman of the Arkansas Transportation Commission. He was later recruited out of private practice by then-Gov. Bill Clinton to become director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and continued to serve in that position under governors Jim Guy Tucker and Mike Huckabee.
Appointed by then-Gov. Mike Beebe to the Arkansas State Highway Commission in 2013, Moore continued to advocate for improvements to infrastructure. He has served as commission chairman since March 2020.
Lori Tudor, director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation and parent of a Ouachita graduate, called Moore a “visionary,” adding that he has “left an impactful legacy. ... He’s done a lot, and he’s done it well.”
By Felley Lawson, editorial coordinator
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