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Smart talk, Feb. 12



Cosmopolitan Harding


An article in the Little Rock daily's sports section said that Harding University at Searcy has “far more” Arkansans on its basketball team than do other Arkansas colleges. Eleven of the 14 Harding players are from Arkansas. At the other end of the range, the University of Arkansas at Monticello has only one in-state product on its basketball team. The report piqued our interest because we remembered Harding as having “far more” out-of-state students than other Arkansas institutions of higher learning. Our memory was correct. Of Harding's 6,510 total enrollment for the 2008 fall semester, 4,622 students (71 percent) were from other states and countries. Only the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville had more out-of-state students, 5,500, but that amounted to only 29 percent of UA's total enrollment. Hendrix College at Conway — a private, church-related  school, like Harding — may have the second highest percentage of out-of-state students, with 52 percent (699 students). There are many reasons students choose Harding, no doubt. That it's affiliated with the Church of Christ, and that Church of Christ schools are comparatively few — compared to Baptist schools and Methodist schools, say — probably accounts for much of its out-of-state enrollment.


Investigator for WM3 case


An independent donor has sponsored the hiring of more help for Damien Echols.  He is Jay Salpeter, a former police detective turned private investigator, who won fame recently by solving a 20-year-old New York murder case in which then-17-year-old Marty Tankleff of Long Island was convicted of murdering his parents. After Salpeter was brought in on the case, he uncovered enough evidence of official wrong-doing that Tankleff's conviction was vacated in 2007, and New York's governor appointed a special prosecutor to reopen the case. One of Salpeter's first actions on behalf of Echols is to set up a tip-line — 501-256-1775 — for persons with information about the 1993 murders of three children in West Memphis for which Echols and two other teen-agers at the time were convicted.


A ducky legacy


It's time again for prospective and current students at the state's historically black colleges and universities to enter the Power of a Dream essay contest sponsored by the Peabody Hotel. A $2,500 scholarship prize goes to the winner of the contest, named in honor of Edwin Pembroke. He was the “Peabody Duck master,” who created the famous march of the Peabody ducks by training them to waddle on a red carpet into the fountain of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. The tradition has been replicated at Little Rock's Peabody. The essays, 600 to 800 words, must be submitted by March 9 and winners will be honored at an Arkansas Black Hall of Fame ceremony in June. For more information, see


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