After 13 years of working as the media manager for the University of Arkansas, Steve Voorhies’ last day on the job was Aug. 31.
A retirement celebration for Voorhies was Aug. 30 at University House. The event celebrated Voorhies’s 13 years as media manager and 40 years of work in Fayetteville. Colleagues and friends from across campus attended the event.
In 1976, Voorhies decided to come to the UofA for graduate school for the program in TV, radio and film, he said. Voorhies chose the program partly because he thought he “wouldn’t have to write any papers,” he said.
As the media manager, Voorhies answered calls from reporters looking for expert sources or information following the news releases that he writes and edits, he said.
“Reporters ask the darndest questions,” Voorhies said. “They can be really squirrely sometimes.”
Voorhies grew up in Babylon, New York, went to school in Connecticut and moved to Maryland when he was 21, where he worked in construction for five years.
“Honestly I had never even thought about public relations or anything like that. I thought I was going to the dark side,” Voorhies said.
Prior to working as the media manager for University Relations in February 2006, Voorhies worked for KSFM-TV’s Fayetteville Bureau and as a news director in Panama City, Florida.
Voorhies served as the public relations representative for the UofA Distinguished Lectures Committee, he said. Some of his favorite speakers were Malcolm Gladwell and the Apollo 13 team.
Voorhies was a part of the first Northwest Arkansas Gridiron Show in 1978 and has participated every year since, with Mark Rushing, assistant vice chancellor of University Relations, calling him “a major component of the shows.” The Northwest Arkansas Gridiron Show is a theatrical performance that spoofs newsmakers and cultural trends of the past year in sketch and song led by the Society of Professional Journalists, according to their website.
“He’s a fixture not only on our campus but in the community as well,” Rushing said. “He’s a one of a kind and great at what he does.”
Voorhies has played a number of roles in the Gridiron shows over the years, including a redneck farmer, a president, an Ozark version of the man in American Gothic and, most recently, Vladimir Putin.
“He comes out bare-chested, and the crowd goes crazy,” said Charlie Alison, an executive editor for University Relations.
Alison, who first met Voorhies in 1978 through the Gridiron Show, thought Voorhies was hilarious and witty after knowing him only from KFSM.
In addition to his many news and acting roles, Voorhies can also add mayor to his resume. He was named Mayor of Curmudgeon Hall in an official dedication ceremony also held on Aug. 30.
The joke was created in a meeting while discussing the different floors in Davis Hall, said Amy Schlesing, executive director of strategic communications for University Relations.
During his retirement, Voorhies plans to remain in Fayetteville and travel to Taiwan to meet two of his grandchildren, he said.
The office of University Relations is interviewing applicants for the new media manager.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure working the last 13 years here,” Voorhies said at his retirement celebration. “If you need me, just give me a call. I’m changing my phone number.”