The First Female Business Manager
In 1937, Thornton Moore ran for editor of The Traveler on the Independent ticket. Editors and business managers of the student publications were still elected by the student body, and campus political parties tried to put together slates of candidates to run for offices. Various student parties over the years included the New Deal Party, the University Party, the Razorback Party and several incarnations of the Independent Party.
Moore asked Elizabeth "Bettie" Barnes to run for business manager of The Traveler. Barnes had grown up in Fayetteville, and her mother, Emma Barnes, was matron of Carnall Hall for many years. In high school, Barnes was editor of the Junior Democrat, a school edition published as part of the Fayetteville Democrat. She was also president of her sorority, Pi Beta Phi, and of the women's journalism sorority, Pi Kappa. But she still worried that if she ran for business manager she would "pull the Independent ticket down," as she put it years later.
On the day of nominations, she went to Professor Walter J. Lemke and told him she was on her way to Dean Ripley's office to withdraw her name. Lemke wrote that "she gave a half dozen reasons" why she shouldn't run. "I argued with her and finally got tough," Lemke wrote. "I said, 'All right, go ahead and quit.'" Instead, she went back to the Pi Phi house, told her sisters she was running and went to campaigning.
The Traveler published a four-page “Election Extra” after the election with results. Both Barnes and Moore won their races, making her the first woman to be elected as business manager of The Traveler.
Among the issues for which Moore editorialized, a student union proved to be an issue that taxed Barnes' ability to balance The Traveler's books. Moore sought out information and art from other college newspapers showing what their campuses had in the way of student unions, and Barnes had to find money in the budget to pay for it. The Traveler's campaign proved successful.
Barnes later married George Messner and raised a family, living first in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and then in Atlanta, Georgia. Recently, her son and daughter-in-law, Michael and Jenny Messner, donated money to the university to endow a journalism scholarship in Bettie's name. The Lemke Journalism Department honored the Michael and Jenny Messner and Bettie Barnes Messner during the J-Days Celebration in April 2005.
The scholarship will support a junior or senior journalism student, paying for tuition, fees and books for a year. It is awarded based on high academic achievement and writing ability.
The Arkansas Traveler. April 8, 1937.
Lynn Fisher, "Couple Donates $340,000 to Endow Messner Scholarship in Journalism." (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Office of University Relations, 2005) Feb. 24. Press release in the author's file but also accessed online at http://dailyheadlines.uark.edu/3600.htm