Dr. Claude H. Babin, a long-time resident of Monticello, passed away on February 25, 2017, in Little Rock.
Dr. Babin was born, February 6, 1924, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the son of Ventress Victor Babin and Essie Bond Babin. He attended public schools in East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, and graduated from Clinton, Louisiana High School in 1941. He received a B.A. Degree from Louisiana State University in 1945, where he was a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity. In 1946, he received a M.A. Degree from of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he concentrated his studies in British Empire history. In 1946, Dr. Babin joined the history faculty of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. He remained there until 1949, when he was admitted to Tulane University to study for a doctorate in American history. At Tulane, he served as a Graduate Fellow with undergraduate teaching responsibilities and was awarded a Ford Foundation grant for study in American economic history. In 1952, he was appointed to the position of Instructor of History for the United States Navy at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida. In 1954, after completion of his dissertation, he received his Ph.D. degree from Tulane.
In September 1954, Dr. Babin was appointed to the faculty of Arkansas A & M College, now the University of Arkansas at Monticello, and began a 38-year tenure. He advanced from Assistant Professor of History and Political Science to Associate Professor in 1957, and to Professor in 1960. He served as Academic Dean of the College from 1960 to 1962. In 1962, he was elected President of Arkansas A & M. When the College became a part of the University of Arkansas System in 1971, Dr. Babin became Chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Monticello. He continued as Chancellor until 1977, at which time and at his request, he returned to teaching in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences as Professor of History. He retired from the University in 1992.
During his academic years, Dr. Babin was elected to membership in Phi Alpha Theta, honorary history fraternity, and to Pi Sigma Alpha, honorary political science fraternity. In 1965, Hendrix College honored Dr. Babin with the Degree of Laws. In 1977, the Louisiana State University College of Arts and Sciences honored him as a distinguished graduate. In the same year, he was honored by the Drew County Chamber of Commerce for outstanding educational leadership.
In his college administrative career, Dr. Babin initiated an extensive building program on the Arkansas A & M campus. New construction included the Science Center, Royer Hall and a library addition, as well as expansions of the Student Union, Fine Arts Center, Administration Building, and Agriculture Center. During his presidency, Arkansas A & M was accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education and successfully reviewed by the North Central Association. A nursing program also was established. The Society of American Foresters granted the institution Affiliate Status laying the groundwork for the eventual full accreditation. Dr. Babin worked with the Drew County Health, Educational and Cultural Complex and the City of Monticello to facilitate a new water supply system for the College campus. Additionally, the College became part of the Monticello City limits allowing for enhanced municipal services to the campus. Dr. Babin played a major role in negotiating the merger with the University of Arkansas System in 1970 and 1971. In 1998, Dr. Babin was honored by the renaming of the UAM Business and Communications Building as the Babin Business Center.
Dr. Babin is a member of the First United Methodist Church of Monticello where he taught in the church school for many decades and served in various church offices, including Chairman of the Administrative Board, Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Chairman of the Pastor Parish Committee. He was a member of the Monticello Kiwanis Club and served as club president in 1961-1962. He was an active worker in the Boy Scouts of American program and a member of the Desoto Area Council.
On December 29, 1947, Dr. Babin married Barbara Ann Murphy of Batesville, the love of his life, who predeceased him in 2006. In additional to his parents, he was predeceased by his twin brother, Clifford V. Babin.
Survivors include a son, Claude Hunter Babin Jr., his wife, Joyce Babin, a granddaughter, Catherine Babin, all of Little Rock, and a brother, Harold B. Babin, of Zachary, Louisiana.
A funeral service will be held on Thursday, March 2, at 11 a.m., at First United Methodist Church in Monticello, with Rev. Dennis Spence officiating. Burial will follow at the Oakland Cemetery. Visitation will be from 6:00-8:00 p.m., Wednesday evening, March 1, at Stephenson-Dearman Funeral Home.
Memorials may be made to the Dr. Claude H. Babin Scholarship Fund at UAM, Office of Advancement, P.O. Box 3520, Monticello, AR 71656, or to the First United Methodist Church of Monticello, 317 S. Main Street, Monticello, AR 71655.