James Wyre is a 74-year-old UCA student and Conway local.
The first time Wyre attended UCA was in 1960, when tuition cost only $55 a semester, compared to the 15 credit hour amount average today.
He was only at UCA for one year before transferring to Hendrix College, where he graduated.
Wyre has been taking classes for the past six years at UCA.
UCA’s Act 678 of 1975 states, “When any person sixty (60) years of age or older is admitted and enrolls as a student in any state-supported institution of higher learning in this state, the board of trustees of the institution or other appropriate institutional officials shall waive all the general student fee charges for each student on a space-available basis in existing classes,” which allows Wyre to attend UCA free of charge.
He started out taking English literature classes, but for the last three years he has been taking history classes, of which he seems to be very fond.
“Until I drop dead, I will be taking history classes,” Wyre said.
He likes to take one class per day, Monday through Friday and spend the last half of the day in the library with reading material such as history books, newspapers and English literature.
Wyre retired from government service at age 58.
He served in the army and worked for the Social Security Administration.
He was born in San Francisco, but grew up in Germany because his dad was a military governor in the town of Gelnhausen. He later moved from Germany to Conway and graduated from Conway High.
Wyre has been married five times and has one son.
With his job at the Social Security Administration, he has lived in Boston, Las Vegas, Seattle, Florida and his final move was back to Conway.
His passion for fishing has also added to the list of places he has traveled.
He has fished all over the world, traveling to places like Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Alaska, Hawaii and Canada.
He said he wanted to go back to school because he watched a TV program about approaching 60.
“It said to do these three things: don’t drink, don’t watch television, because it’s not interactive and go back to school, to keep your mind sharp,” Wyre said.
He said he is attending UCA to get his mind “sharp as a tack.”
He chose to go to UCA instead of Hendrix because he lives very close to the UCA campus, allowing him to walk to class.
When Wyre is not at the library, he is at a UCA football or basketball game.
photo by Lauren Swaim