Former NPCC president enjoying life after work

By Wayne Bryan Published July 24, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Sally Carder recently retired as president of National Park Community College in Hot Springs. She is determined to have fun, even if it keeps her going at the kind of pace she had when she ran the college.

Sally Carder recently stepped down from the presidency of National Park Community College and was honored with several parties, including receptions with the faculty and staff of the two-year college and special recognition from the fellow women presidents and chancellors of Arkansas colleges and universities.

“Of the seven women college presidents in the state, I had the most seniority. They got to calling me Godmother,” Carder said earlier this week. “They would address me that way in emails, and when they called, they often said, ‘Godmother, tell me about …,’ so at the last meeting, they gave me this black T-shirt that said ‘Godmother.’ We all had a good laugh.”

Perhaps more laughter and fun are the earmarks of her retirement. She certainly seems determined to have fun, even if it keeps her on the kind of pace she had when she ran NPCC in Hot Springs.

She was wearing that T-shirt as she picked up her new side-by-side ATV; she said it was to help her get around, but where she will be getting around in it is a big patch of woods in Grant County.

“I am part of a group that leases about 11,000 acres for hunting,” Carder said. “I usually walk between a mile to a mile and a half to my deer stands, and now I can just ride.”

Such is retirement. Carder said she gets at least one deer a season for meat; then she looks for that big buck as a trophy.

“I get more selective every year,” she said. “I took the biggest buck in the woods years ago, and I just pass on a lot of the young ones now.”

She said she looks forward to traveling this fall to a spot near the Kansas-Oklahoma border, where Carder and her brother Tony will search for something bigger than the deer she finds in the woods in Arkansas.

“On my bucket list are a mule deer and an elk,” the former college president said. “On my list is also an Osceola turkey. They are in Florida. I’ve gotten an Eastern wild turkey, a Merriam’s turkey and a Rio [Grande] turkey, and the Osceola is the other kind in North America.”

That is another trip she plans to take with her brother. They travel looking for new places to hunt all over the country. Carder hunted for the Merriam’s turkey in New Mexico several years ago.

“Tony and I are the closest in age,” Carder said. “I have a sister 11 years older than me and another brother who is eight years older, but Tony and I are only two years apart.”

Hunting turkeys is her major hobby, Carder has said in earlier interviews. She said she will attend the annual meeting of the National Wild Turkey Federation in February.

“I’ve always wanted to go,” she said, “but it has never been a good time in the academic year.”

And to top it off, Carder said, she is planning a trip to Mississippi to see her sister soon, but there is a string attached.

“She and my brother-in-law have a boat,” she said. “I want to go fishing in the bayou.”

That is a lot of time outdoors, especially for someone who is allergic to the woods.

“I found out I am allergic to pine and oak and some of the other things in the woods,” Carder said.

She takes one shot a year that allows her to hunt and fish in the wild without problems.

“I found out after I was turkey hunting with my brother once,” Carder said. “We were calling the turkeys, and they were coming in. I started to cough, and of course, they scattered. My brother came to see about me and said, ‘I’m not taking you hunting again until you have seen a doctor.’”

Carder has hunted a lot more in the years since she began taking the shots.

Oh, and Carder said she is remodeling her house in Hot Springs, updating her den and kitchen.

Carder remarked that she was running out of steam when she decided to retire and “take it easy.” However it is a good guess that the low steam pressure of the 62-year-old Carder could probably operate any two ordinary people.

“I had no idea how tired I was and the amount of stress the job had on me until it was over,” she said. “I was amazed at the pressure once it was over. I don’t have to make decisions that affect 400 faculty and staff and more than 4,000 students every day.”

For the first time since she took on administrative duties in education, she said, she has a chance to get up in the morning and have some quiet time as she drinks coffee and looks at the newspapers.

“I am getting enough rest, and I feel younger,” Carder said. “I take less medicine than I have in years, and people tell me I look different.”

But quiet time at home and more time out in the woods have not made her lose touch with her friends and colleagues.

“I keep up with people on Facebook,” she said. “Everybody also wanted to know about ‘Katie the Weather Dog.’ She has a lot of followers.”

Katie is a Lhasa apso who has this thing about weather.

“She has always had a problems with storms,” Carder explained. “She will take her bed and pull her covers around her long before the weather gets bad. I would say something about it, and people even began calling my office if the forecast wasn’t good and asking about the Weather Dog and her reactions to the day.”

Since Carder announced her retirement, she has received more than six invitations to serve on boards and committees in the community.

“I asked for a six-month reprieve to let me rest,” she said, “but there is one exception. I am going to be involved with the Charitable Christian Medical Clinic [in Hot Springs]. They are making some changes in the way they operate, going to more of a case-management assistance program.”

She said the program is also working with an outside fundraising group to find new ways to help lessen the problems of poverty in the area.

“We are trying to find a way we can help folks who need a leg up,” Carder said. “We hope we can do it in ways to help more people go to work, helping local businesses and economic development in the community. That will be my focus for a while.”

When it comes to thoughts about National Park Community College, Carder said she has no regrets about leaving things in the hands of John Hogan, who was hired several months ago as the new president.

“I’ll help John in any way I can, and I am excited about his kind of leadership,” she said. “NPCC is so close to my heart, but it is in good hands. His love for the students and his ethics and principles are close to mine. I pray for him and the school every day, but I handed off my college to great leadership.”

Carder said she also misses the people she has worked with for so long. She has visited some of the veteran staff and teachers at the school for lunch and coffee several times. However, she said, she wants to keep her hands off the school unless she is asked.

“When the school opens, I will be out of town,” Carder said. “On the Labor Day weekend, I am going to New Orleans — for fun.”

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or

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