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The Alumni Magazine of the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith

Long Branches,

Deep Roots

UA Fort Smith’s award-winning arboretum connects the University to both its past and the larger community

5 Enrollment Grows / 17 A Brother’s Dream / 24 Change Agent / 28 Class Notes


Bell Tower


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C2_UAFS_SPSU10:toc & letters

On a raw February day, University of Arkansas - Fort Smith Chancellor Paul B. Beran, Ph.D., accompanied by First Lady Janice Beran, added his name to those of dozens of workers, contractors, architects, engineers, administrators, local officials, faculty members, and student leaders on the final roof panel to be installed on the University’s new residential complex. The “topping-out” ceremony in the shell of the new dining facility—complete with a hot, hearty lunch—marked the completion of structural work on the three new buildings, which will open for students this fall. See page 4 for more.


by Zack Thomas

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volume I, number I


FROM THE DIRECTOR A lifelong relationship


GRAND + WALDRON new residence halls | Miss UA Fort Smith | increased enrollment | John Bell Jr. painting | supporting Numa | student designers | visiting scholars | global connections


TELL US ABOUT IT Cheap eats in Fort Smith


5Q Dr. Keith Fudge, scholar of the relevant


SENSE OF PLACE Ballman-Speer 104


WHAT’S IN A NAME? The Vines Building


EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITY Dr. Sean Curtis, chemist/ kayaker


LIONS LOWDOWN Coach Whorton | NCAA update | Memo Rodriguez ’06 | volleyball


fea t u re s 18

LONG BRANCHES, DEEP ROOTS UA Fort Smith’s award-winning arboretum connects the University to both its past and the larger community. By Zack Thomas


CHANGE AGENT Anna Kasten Nelson ’52, Distinguished Historian in Residence at American University, leads the fight for access to historically valuable government documents. By Bobby Ampezzan

28 ALUMNI AND GIVING class notes | Aaron Ewing ’06 | regional receptions | Mary Lou Pointon ’52 | anonymous $500k donor | campaign progress | Richard Goins ’74, ’07 | alumni weekend | young alumni blog | Mike Parris ’72



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From the Director

Bell Tower Spring/Summer 2010 Volume 1, Number 1

A Lifelong Relationship

The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith


Let us help you stay connected with your alma mater!

Paul B. Beran, Ph.D.



Marta M. Loyd, Ed.D.


EDITOR Zack Thomas

CONTRIBUTORS Jessica Martin, Leslie Yingling, Bobby Ampezzan



we hope you’ll consider joining us for our first-ever Alumni Weekend, October 15-17, to tour the campus, attend a lecture, enjoy live entertainment, or meet up with old friends. As we continue building the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith Alumni Association, I look forward to more events where we can come together, share a story, pay homage to our past, and open new pathways to the future. Please feel free to drop me a line any time at or give me a call toll-free at (877) 303-8237. I’d enjoy hearing about your experiences and what you want out of your association with your alma mater.

ADVISORY BOARD Dr. Paul B. Beran, Chancellor; Dr. Ray Wallace, Provost; Dr. Marta M. Loyd, Vice Chancellor for University Advancement; Dr. Arleene Breaux, Vice Chancellor for University Relations; Anne Thomas, Director of Alumni Affairs; Jeri D. Fields, Director of University Marketing & Communications


elcome to the inaugural issue of Bell Tower, the alumni magazine of the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we’ve enjoyed developing it. Bell Tower, though, is just one more step in the construction of a vibrant Alumni Association at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. Since launching in 2007, we’ve come a quite a long way. Let me share with you a snapshot of your UA Fort Smith Alumni Association. You may be surprised to learn that UA Fort Smith has over 45,000 alumni. Most of them—about 37,000—live in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, but the remaining 8,000 are dispersed across every U.S. state plus several foreign countries. Anyone who has completed 14 credit hours or more at Fort Smith Junior College, Westark, or UA Fort Smith is considered an alumnus. As an alumnus, you have a lifelong relationship with UA Fort Smith. Think back on your classes and friends, your professors and favorite hangouts—how do you stay connected to those memories and relationships? We want to help! Visit to stay connected, search for classmates, and stay up-to-date on the latest news. You can find us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter too. We also realize the importance of seeing UA Fort Smith friends and professors in person, so this spring we hit the road to host regional receptions in Tulsa, Dallas, and Northwest Arkansas. It was fun catching up with those alumni and also great to see so many back on campus for Homecoming to support the Lions. If you didn’t make any of those events,

BELL TOWER is published semi-annually by the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith Alumni

Association, P.O. Box 3649, Fort Smith, AR 72913, for alumni, friends, and faculty of the University. Tel: (877) 303-8237. Email: Web:

SEND ADDRESS CHANGES, requests to receive Bell Tower, and requests to be removed from the mailing list to or UA Fort

Smith Alumni Association, P.O. Box 3649, Fort Smith, AR 72913.

LETTERS ARE WELCOME, but the Publisher reserves the right to edit letters for length and

content. Space constraints may prevent publica-

With Lion Pride,

tion of all letters. Anonymous letters will not be

published. Send letters to belltower@uafortsmith. edu or Bell Tower Magazine, P.O. Box 3649, Fort Smith, AR 72913.

ANNE THOMAS Director of Alumni Affairs

Views and opinions expressed in Bell Tower do not necessarily reflect those of the magazine staff or

advisory board nor of the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith.

Contents ©2010 by the University of Arkansas –

Find Us on the Web!

Can’t wait six months for your next issue of Bell Tower? Visit us at for exclusive web-only content!


BELL TOWER spring/summer 2010

Fort Smith.

03_UAFS_SPSU10:toc & letters


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“=\Sã[]`Sã`SOa]\ãb]ãZ]]YãT]`eO`Rãb]ãTOZZ” ã ã ã ã ã ã ã University of Arkansas - Fort Smith’s First Alumni Weekend October O ctober 15 - 17, 2010 • reconnect reconnect an and d rreminisce eminisce wi with th old f nds frie d an dp roffeessors friends and professors • stroll stroll ou am mpus arb oretum wi th iits ts ourr ccampus arboretum with breathtakiing ffall all colo rs breathtaking colors • enjoy enjoy llive ive p performances erformances b byy ou ourr remarka arr ble st ark tudent m usicians remarkable student musicians • broaden broad oade oa ade d n your de you o r horizons horizons with with our our most most d yyn nami am amic mic faculty m facu fa ac a ullty (promise, ( promise, no no quizzes!) quizzes izzes!) dynamic • see see what’s what’s changed chan a ged around arround here here ...and wh at’s stayed sta s ayed tthe he same sa sam ame ...and what’s • get get the the skinny skiinny on on sending send diing your you ur kids kids to ki to college ((preferably preferably at at UA UA F ort SSmith!) mith!) college Fort

All A ll alumni alumni are are we welcome, lcome, me a most and most eevents vents are are free! free!! For more For more iinformation nformation or or to to receive receeiv ive an n Alumni Weekend packet, Alumni W eeke kend rregistration egistration pac keet, ke call caall our ou our toll-free toll-free number number 877-303-8237 uss at 877-303 877 877-30 7777---3 -303 3 -82 -8823 237 or or eemail mail u at alumni@ n @u ni @ Embark Em E mbarrrkk oon n a ccultural, ulturaal, eeducational, ducat d tiional, and memorable campus. m mo mem memo m ra rable adventure aad dvventure bback ac ack ttoo cam mpus. p w ww.uaf u fort rtsmiitth thalu lumni.i.ccoom



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Tiaras and Tuition

UA Fort Smith’s new residence complex is expected to earn a LEED Silver certification.

New Residential Complex Adds 446 On-campus Beds UA FORT SMITH’S NEW STUDENT housing complex, set to open in time for the fall 2010 semester, includes two residential buildings enclosing a total of about 110,000 square feet and an airy, modern 9,500-square-foot dining facility. Designed by Allison Architects of Little Rock, in partnership with Little Diversified, it is expected to earn a coveted Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) Silver certification for energy efficiency and clean construction. In its proportions and color palette, the complex echoes the sharp, contemporary looks of the nearby Pendergraft Health Sciences Center. The four-story residence halls overlook a grassy central courtyard, and the dining facility doubles as a venue for cultural, educational, and entertainment programming. Designed with today’s underclassmen in mind, the rooms—mostly doubles as well as some singles and triples—are equipped with “loftable” furniture and broadband internet access and arranged in suites around community lounges. The new complex nearly doubles UA Fort Smith’s campus housing capacity, adding 446 beds to the 480 already available at the Sebastian Commons apartments. Increasing demand for on-campus housing reflects not only increasing total enrollment, but also a healthy expansion of UA Fort Smith’s service area.

JUNIOR MATH MAJOR Rebecca Wheeley took home more than a tiara from the Miss UA Fort Smith Scholarship Pageant in March; she also scored scholarships worth a total of $6,000 for her last two years of school plus a $1,600 cash scholarship. Contestants in the pageant, first held in 1978, have gone on to Miss Arkansas, Miss Oklahoma, and Miss America titles. Wheeley—who won the talent category with a pointe dance to “Man of La Mancha” as well as the lifestyle and fitness and interview categories—plans to pursue a master’s degree after graduation and then teach high school or college math. First, though, she’ll represent UA Fort Smith at the Miss Arkansas Pageant in Hot Springs in July.

—ROBERT A. YOUNG III, Chairman of the Board of Arkansas Best Corporation, speaking to UA Fort Smith graduates at a December 17, 2009 commencement ceremony


BELL TOWER spring/summer 2010


Texting and Facebook are no substitute for direct face-to-face contact with people. Contact allows you to read a person’s real self.”

Miss UA Fort Smith Rebecca Wheeley plans to teach high school or college math after earning her master’s.



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points of pride ‘We Know They’re all Good’

Enrollment Tops 7,000 Strong growth expected to continue 7,000 6,000

1928 Fort Smith Junior College founded, enrollment 29 1941 U.S. enters World War II, enr. 188


2002 Name changed to UA Fort Smith, enr. 6,251

1952 FSJC, now private, relocates to Grand & Waldron, enr. 125


1966 Name changed to Westark Junior College, enr. 1,350


Dove Research 1998 Name changed to Westark College, enr. 5,721

2,000 1,000

1972 Name changed to Westark Comm. College, enr. 1,846

0 1925






UA Fort Smith was one of only four institutions nationwide to receive the 2010 CHEA Award for Outstanding Institutional Practice in Student Learning Outcomes. The award from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognizes the College of Education for excellence in articulating desired student outcomes, tracking progress toward those outcomes, and using the data collected to further improve the institution. The College of Education holds students in all majors to a set of rigorous program-wide standards and uses advanced technology to track progress literally from acceptance to graduation. “This way, we know they’re all good,” says Laura Witherington, who prepared the application for the award.




IN FALL 2009, UA FORT SMITH BROKE the 7,000-student mark for the first time in its history. The official number was 7,322, an 8% increase over the previous fall. We asked Chancellor Paul B. Beran, Ph.D., for some insight into what’s driving the University’s rapid growth and where it’s going.

With the help of a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), junior biology major Mike Fielder and professor Dr. Ragupathy Kannan are researching competition between invasive Eurasian collared doves and native mourning doves. Fielder, also a part-time computer analyst for UA Fort Smith, cooperated with Kannan to write the grant. Bigger and more adaptable than mourning doves, Eurasian collared doves have expanded explosively across much of North America since their arrival in Florida just 30 years ago.


Fulfilling potential: I was surprised by the amount of growth last year, to be honest. But an institution—particularly a public institution—doesn’t remain static. It’s either going to grow or shrink. In our situation, with geography and demography driving positive growth, if we artificially squelch it, that flow of students will be gone and probably won’t come back. If we’re going to fulfill the real potential of this institution, we have to welcome growth. Creating options: I don’t think any one thing is driving it; there’s a whole set of variables. Again, geography and demography create the opportunity for growth. Some of it was spurred by the economy, the fact that there simply weren’t good jobs out there. But we’re doing quality work here, and that message is getting out. This is no longer just a grown-up junior college, no longer a “hybrid” university. It is a true university with multiple functions. We have a four-year function, we have a two-year function, we have a certificate function, and we have the potential for a graduate function—for graduate programs that have specific jobrelated applicability to our immediate region. Basically, we’ve created more degrees and more options to serve more different kinds of people. Staying balanced: Our growth is very nicely balanced across the colleges. Health Sciences is booming. Education is booming and is nationally recognized. Business is holding its own in a very positive way and has slow growth, which I believe will pick up as the College’s reputation grows. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics is growing, which bucks the national trend. We’re getting known for different niches in music than other institutions have—our pep band, a symphonic band that is very, very high quality, our jazz band and award-winning vocal jazz program. The social sciences—psychology is growing like crazy, as is criminal justice. Our completer programs—the BAS and BSOL—for working adults who come in with an Associate degree and need a four-year degree but don’t want to lose a lot of hours have grown by leaps and bounds in an incredibly short period of time.

Prize Singing

UA Fort Smith voice students brought home an armload of awards from the 2009 Southern Region Conference of the National Association of Teachers of Singing in Searcy, Arkansas last November. Competing against singers from colleges throughout Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, Chase Mote was 6th among sophomore men, Dalton Jones 4th among freshman men, Zach Bettencourt 3rd among sophomore men, and Iva Lowe won the freshman-sophomore Music Theatre category.

Professors in Public Service

Dr. Nancy Hawking, Executive Director of Imaging Sciences at UA Fort Smith, was elected President of the Alma School Board last fall. Hawking has served on the board for 10 years, and this is her second term as president. CADD professor Derek Goodson was appointed to the Fort Smith Parks and Recreation Commission in 2008 and now serves as chair. The main focus of Parks and Rec this year, says Goodson, is revitalizing The Park at West End to

(continued on page 7)





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Supporting Numa New John Bell Jr. Painting Depicts Reynolds Bell Tower THE CHANCELLOR’S COALITION for the Visual Arts continues to expand UA Fort Smith’s permanent art collection, most recently with “Concert on the Green,” a commissioned work by noted Fort Smith painter John Bell, Jr. Bell, known for his richly detailed and historically accurate scenes of turn-of-thecentury Arkansas, was born and raised in Fort Smith and attended Fort Smith Junior College from 1959 to 1962. See the painting, along with four more Bell originals, in the Sally Boreham Gallery on the second floor of the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center.

Order a Print Prints of “Concert on the Green” are available on fine art paper or stretched canvas. Proceeds from sales are used to enhance and maintain UA Fort Smith’s permanent art collection, and a portion of your payment is tax-deductible. Order at www.uafort or call (479) 788-7020. 6

BELL TOWER spring/summer 2010

HOW DO YOU FREEZE a 15-foot-long, 2,000-pound bronze lion in mid-lunge with only its back feet touching the ground? Lots and lots of concrete—eight tons of it, to be exact. Like a giant lever, UA Fort Smith’s new sculpture—nicknamed “Numa”—exerts an incredible 36,000 pound-feet of torque through its dinner-plate-sized back paws. And it was up to Myers-Beatty Engineering of Van Buren to figure out how to keep it from … well, tipping over. The buried, 16,000-pound concrete block that does the job is 3-1/2 feet thick and extends forward beneath Numa’s body. Three-foot posts attached to the back feet fit into sleeves embedded in the 110-cubic-foot block. See the sculpture, which hadn’t been unveiled at press time, in front of the Stubblefield Center at the corner of Waldron and Kinkead.

SNAPSHOT “You expect to be dazzled when you meet a celebrity like that, but he was just another person,” says junior CADD major Ann Parent, who spent 10 days in Hollywood last winter mentoring a crew of talented teenage filmmakers as they produced a video for R&B star Usher as part of a contest called “Got Noise?” In summer 2008, Parent was on the winning team in a similar teen film project called “Fresh Films,” developed by Dreaming Tree Films, which is also behind Got Noise? Her real passion, though, isn’t film, but 3D computer animation. “I like liveaction film,” she says, “but it’s somewhat limited. With animation, anything you can dream up, you can do. It’s infinite space.”



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(continued from page 5) attract more tourists and conventions to the downtown area.

Traveling Mathematician

More than Academic

Mathematics professor Dr. Boyko Gyurov spent most of December in Thailand, giving talks at conferences in Chiang Mai and Phuket. His topic in Phuket: “Wagner Transformations and Maximal Clifford Inverse Semigroups.” Seriously. On Christmas Day, he flew to Hanoi, Vietnam to begin a two-week stint teaching calculus at nearby Thai Nguyen University of Technology, which is working to boost its engineering programs by adopting successful American curricula.

GRAPHIC DESIGN STUDENTS at UA Fort Smith don’t just design for their professors; in class and as interns, they’re doing professional-grade work for a variety of “live” clients. In fact, three students—Brandon Cox, Aaron Ray, and Bobby Rogne—won ADDY awards this year in the Professional division, competing against the region’s top designers.

(3D) Model Student As an intern for UA Fort Smith, Jerry Arbaugh spent the final semester of his associate program in architectural CADD developing concepts for re-purposing disused Fort Chaffee barracks. The Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority has proposed donating one of the barracks buildings to UA Fort Smith, so Arbaugh was tasked with generating 3D models of a renovated structure that preserved the historic character of the original yet also evoked the UA Fort Smith campus. New awnings and a modified roofline in Arbaugh’s design overcome what he calls the “chicken-house look” of the barracks and red brick echoes the main campus, yet the footprint remains unchanged. During the spring 2010 semester, Arbaugh, who is now working toward a bachelor’s, supervised a group of six more interns working on their own designs.

^ Business Brains

2009 Riverfront Blues Festival poster Gold award in 2010 Fort Smith ADDYs

by Aaron Ray, senior, interning for Rightmind Advertising 2009 Center for Art & Education 5 x 5 Gala poster

by Lois LaBuda, Malinda Sigmon, Kristen Catlett, Daniel Nichols, Keyra Rogers, and Sarah Graham, in GRDS 2323, Production Management 2 2009 Arkansas-Oklahoma State Fair poster Gold award in 2010 Fort Smith ADDYs

by Bobby Rogne, junior, interning for Rightmind Advertising

Graduating seniors in the College of Business scored in the top 20% nationally last May on the Major Field Test, a comprehensive outcomes assessment administered by the Educational Testing Service. The test evaluates students’ mastery of their fields of study and allows objective comparison between similar programs nationwide—over 600 of them in the case of the Bachelor’s in Business test. Business seniors at UA Fort Smith have been taking the exam since 2005 and never scored outside the top 25%. Not bad for a bachelor’s program just eight years old. Here’s the kind of question students face:

Within the context of the capital asset pricing model, the risk measure known as beta is often computed by regressing the return of the company’s stock against the (A) return on the company’s bonds (B) return on the market portfolio (C) change in the gross domestic product (D) change in the consumer price index

Ummm, can we phone a friend? It’s (B), by the way.





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Visiting Scholars Bring New Perspectives DURING THE 2009-2010 SCHOOL year, three visiting foreign scholars, including the university’s first Fulbright Scholar, taught at UA Fort Smith as part of various international outreach projects. Yoko Kowata of Tokyo is here for two years, teaching Japanese language and culture. She has a bachelor’s degree from Rikkyo University in Tokyo and a master’s degree in environment, science, and society from Essex University in England. Laura Dirks taught courses on the German language, both at the university and in the community, through the end of the Spring 2010 semester. She has bachelor’s degrees in English and educational psychology. Fulbright Scholar Dr. V.L.V. Kameswari participated in UA Fort Smith activities

LAURA DIRKS has studied in England, France, Taiwan, and beautiful Kerrville, Texas, where she spent her senior year of high school. During her two semesters teaching at UA Fort Smith as a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant, she made the most of her free time, traveling to Atlanta, San Francisco, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C. We asked her about American elbow room, the German language, Schadenfreude (a wonderfully expressive word for which there’s no English counterpart), and her plans for the future.

on a daily basis for years, so you learn a lot more than just asking for the train station or being able to order a drink. The rest of the world all learns how to speak English. It’s the disadvantage of being the country with the world language.

Why learn German? Germany is the fifth largest trading partner of the U.S. and the fourth largest economy in the world. A lot of very important chemical and technology companies are German, so it would expand your professional opportunities. And of course a lot of very famous artists and musicians come from Germany. One of the most important languages in opera is German.

A matter of scale: When I went to Atlanta, I got in the car and I drove for 12 hours. And I realized that was the longest

Different sounds: Most Germans struggle with the ‘th’ in English because that’s a sound we don’t have—not at all. That’s why a lot of Germans talk witt siss shtuong ahccent. The ‘th’ is something we don’t like at all.


during the Fall 2009 semester. She is an associate professor at G.B. Pant University in India and holds a bachelor’s degree in analytical chemistry and master’s and doctoral degrees in communications. During the Fall 2009 semester, all three scholars participated in the “Our World at a Glance” series, giving free talks on the geography, government, and society of their respective countries. —Jessica Martin


BELL TOWER spring/summer 2010

car trip I ever took in my life. In Europe, driving for 12 hours you would drive through at least three different countries, and you would hear three different languages, and people would look a lot different from where you got in the car.

The world language: In Germany most students start learning English in fifth grade. You are really exposed to it

Schadenfreude: Schaden means “damage” and Freude means “excitement.” So the word actually tells you what it means—being excited about someone else’s misfortune. We have a saying, Schadenfreude ist die schönste Freude, which means “Schadenfreude is the biggest of all joys.” I hope that doesn’t say anything about the German mentality.

The plan so far: Becoming a teacher in Germany takes many, many years, and teachers are state employees, so once you’re in the system, you’re in the system. It’s a very secure job, and they pay good money. I don’t know what’s going to happen in my future, but so far the plan looks like me becoming an English and psychology teacher in Germany.



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Going Global UA FORT SMITH, which has forged partnerships with 18 universities in seven countries, offers students a variety of study abroad options, including intensive one- to three-week Maymester courses. The University also enrolls an increasingly international student body and hosts visiting faculty from numerous countries.

The ambassador to the U.S. from ESTONIA visited campus as part of UA Fort Smith’s Distinguished Global Speaker Series. Volleyball star Heidi Luks also hails from the tiny Baltic state, which has a population of just 1.3 million.

Maymester courses in English and history take students to ENGLAND to visit the literary holy sites and historic treasures of the scepter’d isle. England also sent us two freshman women’s tennis standouts.

  Two of UA Fort Smith’s professors come from Africa—political scientist Williams Yamkam from CAMEROON and historian Michael Mwenda Kithinji from KENYA. Both hold doctorates in their fields.

All Spanish majors spend a summer in an immersion program in Cuernevaca, MEXICO, learning language and culture through firsthand experience that simply can’t be replicated in the classroom.

Students travel to CHINA for a Maymester business course taught by Jerry Peerbolte and Dr. Sharon Wu that examines firsthand how Arkansas businesses like Baldor, Arkansas Best Freight, and Walmart do business in the fastest-growing major economy in the world.

Twelve UA Fort Smith students have studied at the University of Ulsan in SOUTH KOREA since 2007, when the two universities signed an exchange agreement. The industrial center of Ulsan is home to Hyundai Heavy Industries.

Students in Tropical Field Biology observe and study tropical flora and fauna in the rich ecosystems of TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO. The course, taught by Dr. Ragupathy Kannan, is part of the Maymester program.

Bunkyo University in JAPAN partnered with UA Fort Smith in 2006. Bunkyo students joined us in real time for the 2009 Season’s Greetings Concert via ARE-ON, the Arkansas Research and Education Optical Network.



Your Favorite Cheap Eats in Fort Smith WHAT WERE YOUR favorite local joints for cheap, good eats when you were at UA Fort Smith (or Westark or FSJC)? Cooley’s? Byrd’s? Ed Walker’s? Worldburger? Papa’s? Diamond Head? Tell us about it, and we’ll share your letters in the next issue. Mail to or Bell Tower Magazine, P.O. Box 3649, Fort Smith, AR 72913. These days, it’s tough to beat Pho Hoang, a cramped, friendly little Vietnamese place on Grand. The pho—savory, fragrant rice noodle and beef soup—hits the table steaming hot and topped with cilantro and green and red onions. The garnish plate is piled with purple-stemmed Thai basil, bean sprouts, and sliced hot peppers. Add sweet, pungent hoisin and fiery red chili sauce to taste. The small serving ($6) is more than a meal.





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EXTRA! EXTRA! Student news publication returns to UA Fort Smith FOR MOST OF THE 82-year history of what is now UA Fort Smith, its students have produced a newspaper, but The Lions’ Chronicle, which debuted online last December, is the first since 2003. The online “paper” is one aspect of a plan to build a robust student media program, says Dr. Joe Hardin, Dean of

Languages and Communication. A new Bachelor of Arts in Media Communication major—informed by an interdisciplinary approach to new media writing, convergence journalism, and digital literacy— comes online this fall, accompanied by a new communications internship program. The University’s first student paper was The Lion’s Din, launched in 1930. The March 10, 1939 issue of the biweekly paper showed Bill Hunt as editor and Delmer Ashworth as advisor. Buddy Strozier was a feature writer. In his column, “Mr. Reynolds Says,” assistant dean J. W. Reynolds wrote, “Experience has demonstrated that those who get the most out of college are those who do each day’s work as it is assigned.” At the college Valentine Party, “Various games were played, including chinker-chek, bridge, bingo and even a stray game of poker … Sara Grace Eldridge and Betty Hall entertained the guests with marimba duets.” Smith’s Dog House and Byrd’s (“The home of the Byrd Dog and the Bar-B-Q Puppy”) ran ads in the April 18, 1951 issue of Lion’s Roar, along with motorcycle dealer Quin Winters, who was pushing the “snappy new 1951 Harley-Davidson 125 with Tele-Glide Fork.” Bill Center was editor of the biweekly—first published in 1950— and Miss Hazel Presson was advisor. The International Relations Club was discussing whether Red China should be recognized, and Anna Kasten, profiled on page 24, appeared in a photo on the front page, typing 10

BELL TOWER spring/summer 2010

a script for the college variety show. A front-page photo in the September 29, 1967 issue of The Collegian—which replaced Lion’s Roar in the fall of 1951—showed a “new science and math building” (now the Flanders Business Center) nearing completion. A work order was to be issued that week for construction of the Vines Building, referred to in the story as “a new business administration building.” The winning bid: $411,580. Marsha Hayden was editor, Susan Skinner assistant editor, and Jerry Atkinson advisor. A tongue-in-cheek story about campus parking said, “Finding a parking place is a task comparable to playing Musical Chairs to a Beethoven concerto … Just take the bus. It’s a lot simpler.” A story in the November 24, 1971 Collegian promoted a turkey shoot sponsored by the Student Government Association and said, “Students going to classes in the area should take care not to get in the path of the BB shots.” The Collegian had been renamed The Lion’s Pride by the time the September 11, 1980 issue was published. The college was planning to create five new classrooms in a recently purchased building on the north side of Grand—today’s Business Center—and relocate the bookstore to the same building. The 12-page bi-weekly listed more than 15 staffers, led by Editor Terri Scott and advised by Tom Walton. The Lion’s Pride was replaced in 2000 by Lion’s Print. The March 20, 2001 issue carried a front-page story about Miss Westark 2001, Cara Calhoun, and News Editor Steve Clark reported on the grand opening of Fort Smith’s new Public Library. In an editorial, Marla King wrote, optimistically, “If we are looking for love, [the Fullerton Union Cafeteria] may be just the right place.” Roy Hill and Greg Russell served as advisors, and Eric Black was editor.



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Q 5


Assistant Professor of English Dr. Keith Fudge has published work on, among other topics, Southern literature, American war literature, and the literature of baseball, but he’s particularly well known as a student and teacher of popular culture— music, TV, and movies—as literature. This semester he’s teaching a 4000-level English course on the Beatles.


You’ve said Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a place right alongside Shakespeare when discussing the human condition and that the Beatles are as significant as Beethoven to today’s students. Really?

We used to say that you can’t teach like you taught 5 or 10 years ago, but now it’s more like, “You can’t teach like you did last year.” You have to make learning today a little more relevant to students’ everyday lives. Many of today’s students, for example, grew up watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer during their formative years. If you can demonstrate core messages and philosophies and ethics through familiar mediums, they’re going to make connections better. Anything that reflects the problems and intricacies of the human condition—one is just as powerful as another.


Seems like there must be some opposition from the “ivory tower” to the teaching of pop culture right alongside the traditional canon.

It’s more and more accepted. Established research institutions have sort of paved the way. Indiana University has taught a course on the Beatles for years. Hope University in Liverpool right now is offering a Masters Degree in Beatleology. Don’t ask me what you can do with it, but it’s out there. And

there are international Buffy conferences. I spoke at one, and there were scholars from everywhere. People may roll their eyes, but they kind of get over it. It seems that the ivory tower should really be about learning and thinking critically, and as long as you’re teaching those skills, people shouldn’t worry about how you’re doing it.


You’re also interested in the literature of baseball. What are your top three baseball films and/or books?

The Natural (the movie). It captures the golden era of baseball, that late ’30s era. Bull Durham for just the zaniness of minor league life. I like—and it’s just because I’m kind of connected to it—David Halberstam’s book October 1964. It chronicles the CardinalsYankees World Series. I grew up in Cardinal country in the ’60s, and my grandfather and grandmother took off and went to that Series without a ticket. And my parents took me to the World Series in 1967 when the Cardinals played the Red Sox. Halberstam chronicles what I saw in that era.


Among the comments about you on are “Great professor!” “He is amazing!!” “Very engaging!” “AWESOME!!!!!” and so on. Why?

I think there are two types of teachers in the world. I think there’s the type of teacher who


Dr. Keith Fudge

will figure out what students know and help them build on it and get better. And there’s the type of teacher who wants to find out what students don’t know and catch them and play “gotcha.” And I vowed I would never be the second type of teacher. You treat students with dignity and respect, and you will see it in return. And this should be fun, and it should be good. It should be a great experience for everybody. And when it ceases to be, that’s when I’ll get out.


What are you working on these days?

My interests now in higher education are shifting toward the whole experience—the college experience for students, particularly at this institution. I think that this institution has an incredible positive vibe going on, for lack of a better way to describe it. But the mindset here when it was a two-year college was, “Come take your classes and then go home. And when you’ve finished taking classes here, then go somewhere else.” And now, since 2002, we have to change the mindset to say, “This is your academic community. Come learn with us. Come stay with us. This can be your social and academic home.” So I’m real interested in that change and creating an atmosphere of collegiality across the board. UA Fort Smith BELL TOWER




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Sense of Place






2 5

BALLMAN-SPEER 104: the Printmaking Studio PRINTMAKING—the process of creating multiple “impressions” from a single “matrix” bearing the image to be printed—now survives primarily as an art form, but, says Professor Ernest Cialone, “Printmaking by hand techniques was the internet of its day. It was the only way to distribute images widely.”


BELL TOWER spring/summer 2010

1. Cialone(s): After finishing his associate

degree at Westark in 1978, Professor Ernest Cialone—his students call him simply “Cialone”—went on to Fayetteville for his bachelor’s and then the University of North Dakota for a Master of Fine Arts. Since returning to UA Fort Smith as faculty in 1991, he’s taught more or less the whole range of visual arts courses and now mentors instructors of drawing and 2D design. “I even taught art history when we were strapped for a couple years there,” Cialone says, “and learned to enjoy teaching it my own way.”



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2. ART 2793: All studio art majors take Intro to Printmaking. So do a lot of art minors and graphic design majors. “In their introductory graphic design classes, they study printing processes and history, and this gives them the opportunity to actually put their hand to it,” Cialone says. Intro students progress chronologically through the four major printmaking techniques—relief printing, intaglio, lithography, and screen printing. Here, they’re carving images into linoleum blocks with chisels, knives, and gouges in a variation on the ancient woodcut technique for relief printing.

3. Ink and inking glass: Ink is kept mainly in caulking-style canisters and dispensed with a caulking gun. “Dealing with a lot of students—especially beginners— there’s less waste because the ink is encased,” says Cialone. When a linocut is finished, ink is spread onto the inking glass and transferred to the block with a roller called a brayer before the paper is pressed against the block to transfer the image. 4. Phonebooks: In intaglio printing, images are etched or engraved into the surface of a metal plate, ink is applied, and then the plate is wiped clean, leaving ink only in

the incisions or grooves. “If you get the right kind of phone book, it’s really good paper for wiping plates,” says Cialone. “So a Southwestern Bell or an AT&T phonebook is good. Those red ones—that paper stinks.” 5. Intaglio press: Turn the big wheel, and the roller presses the dampened paper against the inked plate, actually squeezing the paper down into the incisions on the intaglio plate’s surface, where it picks up the ink. “You can apply ginormous amounts of pressure with that thing,” says Cialone. 6. Repurposed sink: Formerly part of a system for spraying solvent that eventually fell afoul of modern safety standards, the big metal sink now serves mainly as storage for large, wood-framed squeegees used in screen printing. Through the years, students have printed images on it—John Lennon, Charles Bukowski, Prince, Clint Eastwood, Jim Morrison, a Star Wars Storm Trooper. “Some of those were there when I was a student,” Cialone says. 7. ART 3753: In addition to the Intro class, the department offers classes on a rotating basis in each of the four principal printmaking techniques. In spring 2010, it was Screen Printing, the only printmaking technique that remains in wide commercial use. A woven mesh is stretched over a frame and then a stencil made from a non-permeable material is used to “block” portions of the screen. Ink is then forced through the mesh onto the paper, leaving the stenciled image unprinted. Strong work by former screen printing students hangs at the top of the chalkboard. 8. Litho stones: In lithography, images are drawn or painted onto flat pieces of limestone in greasy, water-repelling ink or crayon. The parts of the stone not covered in the ink or crayon are then etched, making them hydrophilic, or “water-loving.” The stone is dampened when the final image is printed, but only the etched areas get wet; the areas that received the drawing repel water. When oil-based ink is applied, it is repelled from the wet areas but adheres to the dry image. “Aside from the presses,” says Cialone, “the litho stones are the most expensive pieces of specialized equipment we have. A lot of people that come and visit us are surprised that we do stone lithography.” UA Fort Smith BELL TOWER




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What’s in a Name

DR. EUGENE T. VINES had labored as a coal miner after high school before working his way through Ouachita College, so he knew firsthand how education could redirect lives. He served as president of Fort Smith Junior College/Westark Junior College from 1958 to 1967, and in 1961 he created Fort Smith Junior College’s technical division to train local kids for better-paying, less dangerous jobs. “Vines wanted to get young people out of … the coal mines of south Sebastian County,” former chancellor Joel Stubblefield would recall. “He had been raised down there, and people died of lung problems. It was hard labor, and he wanted to provide them with an alternative.” Most of the existing liberal arts faculty, though, were unhappy with the addition of the “tech school,” and that wasn’t the only controversy Vines stirred up. Remembered by many as a “benevolent dictator,” Vines ran the school more or less single-handedly. Art professor Pete Howard later said, “[Vines] just had total control, never really delegated much of anything … I don’t mean to say there was anything bad going on. What I’m saying is that it may have been the only way the college could survive at the time. He was doing the only thing he could do to make this thing work.” And there’s no disputing that he made the thing work. In addition to creating the technical division—and thereby securing the first state funding for the school—Vines helped push the Community College Enabling Act through the state legislature, allowing Arkansas to create and fund community college districts. That done, he worked on the local referendum that effectively transformed Fort Smith Junior College, a private school struggling to pay its bills, into Westark Junior College, a growing public institution. 14

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Vines died suddenly in 1967 of complications from an elective surgery at the age of 53. The very next year, Westark’s new administration building was finished and named the E.T. Vines Business Administration Building. A new heating and air conditioning system installed in 1997 cost more than the $450,000 the building cost in the first place.

President Vines (left, with Dean Tom Fullerton) worked the 1964 Arkansas-Oklahoma Free Fair in support of public community colleges for Arkansas.


The Vines Building


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Dr. Sean Curtis, Chemist/Kayaker ssistant Professor of Chemistry Sean Curtis discovered whitewater kayaking as a college kid in Colorado, where residents are required by state law to demonstrate proficiency in at least one adventure sport. Fortunately, even though it lacks a similar requirement, Arkansas has its share of fine whitewater, including Curtis’s favorite runs: the Cossatot River south of Mena (“as difficult as you want”) and remote Richland Creek high in the central Ozarks (“one of the true classics”). For the relatively sane, running rivers is strictly a warm-weather activity. But not for serious paddlers. In summer, rainfall is sucked up quickly from the ground by thirsty trees, but in winter and


early spring, when the leaves are down, the rivers and creeks stay “up” for days or weeks after a good rain. So when it’s 38 degrees and drizzling outside and you’re sitting on your couch watching basketball and eating chili, chances are Curtis is out there paddling some icy, rain-swollen creek in a plastic boat roughly the size of your bathtub—and, believe it or not, having fun. Sound like something you’d like to try? Curtis says your best bet is to get involved with the Arkansas Canoe Club (www.arkansascanoe, which offers all kinds of instruction, information, and camaraderie.

“For the relatively sane, running rivers is strictly a warmweather activity. But not for serious paddlers.”



Richland Creek, January 2010



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Lions Lowdown


Movin’ on Up

The Lady Lions didn’t blink when

Junior college to NCAA transition almost complete

faced with new NCAA competition, finishing the season at 32-4.


New Opponents, Same Results

THIS ACADEMIC YEAR is the third and last for UA Fort Smith of the mandatory transition period from junior college competition to NCAA Division II. During this “Provisional Year,” the Lions compete at the NCAA Division II level as members of the Heartland Conference—composed of nine other schools in Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas—but aren’t eligible for post-season competition. “In the past three years, we’ve started to look like a Division II school,” says Athletic Director Dustin Smith. “We’ve added men’s and women’s cross country so that we meet

Lady Lions keep winning in D-II

Coach Kaundart gave me a sense of direction and motivation, and I didn’t realize how important he’d been in my life until he was gone.

—RETIRED NBA STAR RON BREWER ’75, speaking at the induction of seven inaugural members, including both Brewer and Coach Gayle Kaundart, into the Lions Athletic Hall of Fame in February.


BELL TOWER spring/summer 2010


IT MAY SEEM ODD that a team coming back from a 44-4 season that ended with a runner-up title at the NJCAA National Tournament would be apprehensive about the next one— especially with 11 of that team’s 14 players returning, including two All-Americans. But this was a special case. After more than a decade as a potent force at the junior college level, Coach Jane Sargent’s Lady Lions volleyball team was facing its first season of NCAA Division II competition. After losing a hard-fought, five-set season opener, though, the Lady Lions seemed to settle back into their old ways, reeling off seven wins in a row and ending the season at 32-4 overall. The Lady Lions’ first Division II season also included a 17-game win streak and Heartland Conference Student-Athlete of the Week honors for Lucia Najselova of Nitra, Slovakia, Fabiane Nass of Santa Caterina, Brazil, and Heidi Luks of Tallinn, Estonia. As provisional NCAA members, the Lady Lions weren’t eligible this year for post-season competition and played a limited league schedule that included only one match against each of the other eight conference teams. Their conference record? A convincing 7-1, including wins over eventual conference champions Dallas Baptist University and conference runners-up St. Edward’s University. —Jessica Martin and Zack Thomas

The addition of men’s and women’s cross country gave UA Fort Smith the 10 sports required for NCAA Division II membership.

the minimum 10-sport requirement for Division II.” In addition to Smith’s position as fulltime athletic director, several other positions have been created—an assistant athletic director and senior woman administrator, a compliance officer, and a sports information director, as well as additional coaches and support staff. “A lot of the changes have been in the amount of paperwork,” says Smith. “There is a form or report for almost everything we do over here. The coaches and staff have done an incredible job of embracing all of the changes.” Smith says UA Fort Smith is expected to be granted full membership in July 2010. —Jessica Martin



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Whorton Highlights

‘At Least One More Game’ After 24 seasons, Coach Whorton is just as excitable as ever


Coach Louis Whorton’s 538 NJCAA wins put him sixth all-time among women’s basketball coaches.

LOUIS WHORTON CAN’T remember a time when he didn’t want to coach. The biggest obstacle, he says, was plain old lack of talent. “Some people get where they’re going naturally, and some have to work for it,” he says. “I had to work hard to learn the game. I don’t think I brought anything new to the game.” That’s debatable, but what’s certain is that Whorton, who recently finished his 24th year as head coach of the women’s basketball

21 Winning Seasons in 24 years 3 Arkansas State Tournament Championships 7 Bi-State East Conference Championships 7 NJCAA Region 2 Championships 7 NJCAA National Tournament appearances 1 NJCAA National Championship

Lions, has managed to build a national-caliber program at UA Fort Smith, leading his teams to a long list of conference and regional championships and an overall record of 550-209. His 1994-1995 team went 35-0 on its way to the NJCAA National Championship, and Whorton was named NJCAA Coach of the Year. This spring Whorton was inducted into the NJCAA Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. The honor belongs to his players, he says: “This recognition is really for what the kids have accomplished. I just sit at the front of the bus on the way to games.” Of course, humility aside, those players are driven by Whorton’s coaching, which you might call … well, vociferous. Whorton himself just calls it “hard and fast.” Physical errors, he says, are unavoidable. Mental errors upset him. Unsportsmanlike conduct is not tolerated. “All I ask is that they play hard and act right,” he says. “If someone doesn’t play hard, I’ll embarrass them by yelling.” That kind of excitability is what has driven Whorton’s teams to win over the years. That kind of excitability is also what keeps him returning season after season with no definite plans to quit any time soon. “My health is good,” he says, “I still enjoy the kids, and I don’t want to quit just because I reach an age that says I need to.” So how long is he going to keep coaching? “At least one more game.” —Jessica Martin

A Brother’s Dream Come True ROMAN RODRIGUEZ ’06 was four years old when he started playing basketball at a boys club in Buenos Aires. In a country where soccer is a national obsession, little Roman wanted to be like his basketball-playing big brother, Renzo. Twenty years later, Roman, now known mostly as Memo, still looks up to his role model, but has since conquered a dream both boys shared as children— playing professional basketball. “I decided I wanted to do this as my career when I was 14 or so,” Rodriguez says. “I started getting pretty good and taller than the rest of my friends and then I started understanding what my brother told me, that I could make money playing the sport I love.” At the urging of former Westark coach Doc Sadler,

who was then at UTEP, Rodriguez moved to the U.S. at 17, finishing high school at Fort Smith Christian before helping lead the Lions to the 2006 NJCAA National Championship. Back in Argentina, Rodriguez averages 14 points a game with the Athletic Echague Club and dreams of playing for the Argentinean national team and coaching kids. Still his little brother’s idol, Renzo is a PE teacher and lifeguard in Argentina and plays basketball every chance he gets. “I remember always trying to be like my brother,” Rodriguez says, “play like him, be the great person he is. Of course, his ambition was to be a pro player, too. That’s why he says I’m his dream come true.” —Jessica Martin

Memo Rodriguez helped lead the Lions to the 2006 NJCAA National Championship.

UA Fort Smith




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Long br A nche

Deep r

UA Fort Smith’s award-winning arboretum connects the University



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Photographs and story by Z A C K T H O M A S

r oots

to both its past and the larger community.

“THE FACT THAT EVERY tree on campus is identified and GPS’d is a really unique thing,” says Steve Dobbs, UA Fort Smith Director of Plant Operations. “We teamed up with the CADD department to do our inventory in ’02 and kind of developed our own program. Now it’s catching on more.” With assistance from Oklahoma’s Cross Timbers Forestry, each tree on campus was identified, precisely measured, and its condition evaluated. CADD students used GPS/GIS technology to map the trees. The detailed, comprehensive picture that resulted served as a guide for Dobbs and his staff in the development of the UA Fort Smith Arboretum, which was formally dedicated on Earth Day in April 2005. Among their top priorities were increased age diversity and species diversity, and today the arboretum includes 1,185 trees of 51 different species, ranging from saplings to centuries-old remnants of the River Valley’s original forests, and from natives like sweetgum and sycamore to exotics like desert willow and dawn redwood. More than $65,000 in Arkansas Forestry Commission grants have helped UA Fort Smith hire urban forester Lacey Jennen in 2005, label many campus trees, create an extensive arboretum website, purchase tree-climbing equipment, and then, in 2009 after Jennen moved to the position of Assistant Director of Landscape Services, hire urban forester Alison Litchy. Together, Dobbs, Jennen, Litchy, and the rest of the Landscape Services crew maintain the arboretum to the kind UA Fort Smith BELL TOWER




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“The oldest trees on campus are the gnarled, centuries-old post oaks near the corner of Grand and Waldron, which of standards that earn a steady stream of national awards, most recently a Tree Campus USA designation—the first in the state—for excellence in tree management from the Arbor Day Foundation.

Urban Forest The arboretum makes a perfect home for a big population of squirrels. And that attracts predators like red-tailed hawks, which occasionally drop by for a furry snack. Plant Operations has received calls from horrified students complaining about the sometimes gory results. But,

says Dobbs, this isn’t just a large-scale garden; it’s an urban forest where nature has a substantial say in things. Look closely and you’ll see evidence of the many smaller life-forms that thrive in, on, and around the arboretum’s trees. A molting cicada, for example, left its husk (above) on one of the line of loblolly pines near Waldron Road. The husk was tucked into 20

BELL TOWER spring/summer 2010

may predate the first European settlement of the valley.”



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a lightning scar, one of several that can be seen on the arboretum’s trees. The most apparent of the telltale “barber pole” scars are on the tenth and fifteenth pines in from Waldron.

Living History The oldest trees on campus are the gnarled, centuries-old post oaks near the corner of Grand and Waldron (facing page). They are likely remnants of the ancient “cross timbers” ecotone—an expanse of rugged woodlands that once covered much of the region—and may predate the first European settlement of the valley. The oldest species on campus, though, is the ginkgo biloba, sometimes called the “fossil tree.” Believed extinct for centuries until a living specimen was identified in Japan in 1691, the gingko is the last remaining member of a genus that first appeared in the fossil record around 200 million years ago. Its primitive, fan-shaped leaves (top) turn a bright lemon-yellow in fall.

A Line in the Grass When Fort Smith Junior College began construction in 1960 on the buildings that would house a new technical/ vocational division, a music teacher named Hattie Mae Butterfield complained so loudly about the view of the construction site from the old main building that she finally convinced President E.T. Vines to plant two rows of pines, creating a symbolic barrier

Find More ONLINE!

between the liberal arts and the tech school. (Another version of the story says Butterfield had her own gardener plant the pines, without permission.) The young pines are visible running across the middle of an aerial shot from 1968 (middle left). Grand Avenue runs across the bottom of the photo, Waldron Road is visible at upper left, the Vines Building is at right, and the old main building is nearly hidden in the trees to its left. Today, although many of the pines remain, a dual emphasis on the technical and liberal education is a point of considerable pride for UA Fort Smith.

Underused Species Looking for an ideal landscaping tree for the River Valley? Try a willow oak. Not widely available from nurseries, they grow fast, straight, and strong in the area’s heavy, wet soils and have few pest problems. Their small, willow-like leaves turn bright yellow in the fall and rake up easily. To see what mature willow oaks look like, visit the Campus Green, which is flanked by some 77 of them, planted 10 years ago as three-inch-diameter saplings (middle right). Another underused tree Dobbs likes: the Chinese pistache, which is extremely tough in the face of heat, cold, drought, pests, and less-thanideal soil conditions. Nothing quite rivals red maples (bottom) for fall color, but the Chinese

Visit to see an interactive Arboretum map, read about and view photos of various

species, and learn weird tree terms like “peduncle” and “spikelet.”





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“This isn’t just a large-scale garden; it’s an urban forest where

Gifts that Grow Giving a new tree or adopting an existing tree is a wonderful way to support UA Fort Smith. New trees are two-inchdiameter saplings; gifts not only fund their purchase, but also their ongoing care. A wide variety of species are available. Trees offered for adoption are among the oldest and most significant on campus. Gifts help fund the specialized care these magnificent trees need. Trees can be adopted to memorialize or honor loved ones or important occasions. Markers placed on new and adopted trees bear the date of planting or adoption, the name of the memorial or honoree and, if desired, the name of the giver.

pistache comes close. See the specimen given to the University in memory of R.A. Young, Jr. by Mr. and Mrs. Robert A. Young III in front of the Fullerton Administration Building. Dobbs sees the arboretum and its accompanying website as a valuable resource for area homeowners, who can see mature trees of a wide variety of species and take advantage of the considerable experience and knowledge he and his staff have accumulated over the years.

Graceful garden benches can also be given, each bearing a plaque noting the date of placement, the name of the honoree or memorial, and the name of the giver. To learn more about giving opportunities, contact Lynn Nancarrow in the UA Fort Smith Foundation office at (479) 788-7020 or


BELL TOWER spring/summer 2010

Long Branches Come fall, the UA Fort Smith campus swarms with local high school, junior high, and elementary students collecting leaves, like those from the Bradford

pear (above), to identify for school projects. “It doesn’t take ‘em long to figure out, ‘Hey, let’s go to the University. The trees are already labeled there,’” says Dobbs. That may compromise the educational value of the assignment a bit, but it also brings lots of potential students, local teachers, and parents to campus. The arboretum acts not only as recruiting tool, but also a community-builder. Local Master Gardeners frequently train on campus with Plant Operations staff, and Jennen was instrumental in earning Tree City USA status for the City of Fort Smith in 2007. Urban forester Alison Litchy actually divides her time between the city and the University, helping Fort Smith



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nature has a substantial say in things.”

implement tree management programs similar to those developed on campus.


Fallen Giant UA Fort Smith lost an old friend (bottom) when the grand American elm that stood for a century or more between Grand Avenue and what is now the Flanders Building, split apart and fell on a sunny, windless day in the summer of 2009. Plant Operations saved a crosssection of the trunk (inset). Taken from about head height, it’s 4’6” in diameter; the trunk was even larger at ground level.

Working Structures Trees do a lot more than stand there looking pretty, like the big plum near the southeast corner of the Vines Building (right). They’re also working structures that reduce flooding by absorbing storm-water, cut energy bills by shading buildings and blocking wind, and help clean the air. The UA Fort Smith Arboretum removes an estimated 1,000 lbs. of carbon and 700 lbs. of other pollutants from the atmosphere annually. Sound like a lot? Consider this: the estimated total leaf area of the arboretum’s trees is nearly 675,000 square feet!



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by B O B B Y A M P E Z Z A N

Change Agent Anna Kasten Nelson ’52, Distinguished Historian in Residence at American University, leads the fight for access to historically valuable government documents.

A Sense of Importance Along the way, Nelson has testified nearly a dozen times before Congress and has herself been the sub24

BELL TOWER spring/summer 2010

ject of two official FBI investigations—first before sitting on an advisory committee for the State Department’s publications arm, and again when she was picked by another Arkansan, President Bill Clinton, to sit on the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board. Nelson’s investigators discovered that she was reared in a modest rented bungalow at Grand Avenue and 18th Street, the third and last child of Belorussian Jews who migrated to Fort Smith as children before World War I. Her father worked past sundown most nights selling 25-cent Metropolitan Life insurance policies to the men down at the glass factory, and the family never had a car. It was Nelson’s mother, Louis, who largely supported the family’s middle-class aspirations with her foot-powered sewing machine. At the time, the country was in the grip of a great economic depression that eased social stratification. Worth was measured largely by talent and opportunism, and the Kasten kids had loads of both. “I was always the one who stood up and gave speeches, who announced things. I remember that on Armistice Day, I was the one chosen to stand on the steps of Duval Elementary School and [recite] the poem ‘In Flanders Fields,’” Nelson says. “I just always was able to project to an audience.” She focused her first term paper on Eleanor Roosevelt and the United Nations, and when U.N. Day rolled around, it was Louis who sewed the U.N. flag and got the kids’ picture in the paper. “Sometimes you’re just lost in the crowd,” says Nelson. “One thing Fort Smith did for us was give us a sense of importance. That’s important. It’s not that we knew we could go out and conquer the world, it’s that we got our picture in the Times Record.”


SHE IS A PRODUCT OF A LEANER TIME, when having a car in Fort Smith was a luxury instead of a necessity, when watermelons peddled from the backs of dusty pickups were still a treat, when dresses were sewn from cloth spread out on the kitchen table, which was the base of operation for most American women. Anna Kasten Nelson loves the past, but not this one exactly. For her, the past is national and international. Her interests began when she was 12 years old, when the Nazis surrendered and the Allies carved what would be the Soviet and American spheres out of Eastern Europe and the Cold War ushered in an epoch in American foreign policy marked by assiduous intelligence gathering and secrecy. “For the last 50 years,” Nelson wrote in a 1999 essay for The Public Historian, “one of the most pervasive and effective ways to control history has been through the control of the information in government records. … At best, secrecy has led to inaccurate history; at worst, it has led to countless conspiracy theories.” Now a Distinguished Historian in Residence at American University in Washington, D.C., the tall, outspoken Jewish kid who couldn’t afford a university education but got there by way of Fort Smith Junior College has become arguably the leading freedom fighter in the ongoing struggle to declassify those government records, the primary sources in our shared history. For four decades, she has, in her own words, “stood at the barricades to fight for access to historically valuable information.”



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In 2008, Nelson returned to UA Fort Smith to give a talk called “A Re-Examination of John F. Kennedy’s Assassination: Clearing Away the Fog of Secrecy and Conspiracy.”

Under the Stands With a world-class intellect and rank-and-file means, Nelson spent the two years after high school at Fort Smith Junior College, which for the first of those two years was housed under the enclosed south stand of the high school stadium. Her two older siblings, Maurice and Reba, also attended the college. Maurice went on to earn a master’s from the University of Chicago and pursue a Ph.D. at Columbia College. Reba, who served for many

let alone several,” Nelson says. “My guess is that many students who have attended the school feel the very same way.” Nelson says there were several fine instructors—among them, history teacher Lucille Speakman, who led the International Relations Club. She would be, incidentally, the last female instructor Nelson had in college, through her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and two doctoral programs.

“At best, secrecy has led to inaccurate history; at worst, it has led to countless conspiracy theories.” years as Assistant to the President of Mount Sinai Medical Center, still lives and works in Manhattan, remains an ardent supporter of UA Fort Smith’s Jazz Band, and visits campus regularly. “Had there not been a Fort Smith Junior College I would probably never have been able to get one college degree, 26

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During her second semester, Nelson got a big break—a private, anonymous benefactor paid the rest of her tuition. To this day she has never discovered her patron, but the gift allowed her to finish FSJC and matriculate to the University of Oklahoma. At Oklahoma, Nelson betrayed a maverick sensibility born of her upbringing, of feeling at times like “an alien in [her] own society”—and perhaps a bit of the frontier independence that runs red in Fort Smith. She quickly joined the left-leaning “Econ Club,” which opposed segregation, listened to labor songs, and once rushed off to Okahoma City to see Adlai Stevenson.



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It was in Norman one bright day that, decked in a red sweater, she caught the eye of a liberal Korean War veteran, Paul Nelson, and the year after she graduated in 1954 they married. A year later, she earned her master’s, and they moved to the nation’s capital.

‘We drove the CIA batty’ While her husband served as staff director for the Senate Financial Services Committee, Nelson received her doctorate in history from George Washington University and was appointed to the National Study Commission for the Papers of Federal Officials. The Commission was formed by Congress to consider the issue of archiving executive branch documents after legislation prevented President Nixon from destroying his tapes. It was Nelson’s first leap into the labyrinth—the rules and repositories of federal government documents—and what she found disappointed her. “Nobody, including [National Security Advisor] Walt Rostow, nobody thought their papers needed to be closed for 30 years,” she says. “Yet, there are few you can open for 30 years. You talk to people who were making policy, like Rostow, who was knee deep in Vietnam, and [U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union] George Kennan, and they were more than willing to open their documents, but there is a culture of secrecy that causes people in intelligence agencies to automatically want to close things.” Her work led to a staff directorship in 1980 for the Committee on the Records of Government, whose objective was to consider the “oncoming crisis in preserving papers, mainly the problem of the delete key on a computer”—a quandary the National Archives has never solved. “Even then,” Nelson says, “we knew that the software used to store information would immediately be obsolete.” In 1991, Congress authorized the creation of a review board to investigate all of the sealed documents related to the Kennedy assassination and decide what might be moved into the public domain. Kasten, representing the American Historical Association, was one of the five-member board. “We drove the CIA batty,” she says. “They told us, ‘You can’t open this! All American security would collapse.’ We did, and it didn’t collapse. We kept releasing so many pages that even the press couldn’t keep up.” She remembers a Cuban double-agent whose file they agreed to leave classified, and another pertaining to naval exercises in the Caribbean Sea.

Documents released, on the other hand, revealed the extent of the national security complex’s wiretapping, including wiretaps of United Nations offices. That board also discovered that as a member of the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy—popularly known as the Warren Commission—U.S. Rep. Gerald Ford was “a conduit” to the FBI, and that another commissioner, John McCloy, had made up his mind on the Kennedy Assassination before he ever took his seat at the inaugural meeting. It also uncovered little-known Operation Northwoods, a Defense Department plan to destabilize Cuba after an earlier assassination attempt on Fidel Castro failed. Northwoods included a plan to airdrop one-way Pan-Am plane tickets over Havana for anyone who needed a ride out. By the close of its work, the board had moved 9 million pages of sealed documents into the National Archive and public domain. One historian, David Kaiser, used the records extensively for his recent examination, The Road to Dallas: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, and Nelson herself has spoken out about the agency’s capricious surveillance of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Nov. 22, 1963. “The CIA keeps a lot of documents classified because they bumble, and they fumble. They make mistakes.”

Of Nelson, who then went by Anne, the editors of the 1951 Numa wrote, “Well known for dramatic accomplishments and her scholastic ability, Anne will be remembered most for her pleasant smile and her willingness to help. Even though she was voted most studious girl, she had time for many outside activities.”

Agent of Change Nelson received an award for her work on the review board, as well as a lifetime award last year from the American Historical Association for her work advocating for the release of documents through the Freedom of Information Act and other means. Of course, for every document, room, or warehouse Nelson has helped place in the public record, a new caravan of sealed documents arrives for storage. “Classified records are just flooding warehouses,” she says, and the Byzantine protocols of our national security complex only seem to morph, never recede. But Nelson’s legacy may lie not so much in the materials she has helped move into the public record as in the fact she is no longer a “lonely spokesman” for access, as she said in a 2003 interview. It is largely because of her tireless advocacy that the importance of that access is increasingly recognized—even to the point of influencing policy. “It goes back to the fact that you can do anything you want to,” Nelson said in the same interview, “if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

Nelson published The Policy Makers: Shaping American Foreign Policy from 1947 to the Present in 2009. It’s a book, she says simply, she always wanted to have in hand for her own classes.



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Alumni+Giving LION FILE


Harry Foster ’58 and Jo Ann Herring Foster ’58 recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. The met in Tom Fullerton’s American history class at Fort Smith Junior College. “And the rest,” Harry says, “is … history!”

1970s Bill Friday ’74 and his wife Shari celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary in June 2009.

1980s Karen Bettis Abernathy ’80 now lives in the Tulsa area. She says, “From the cheerleaders with whom I spent MANY hours, (Kim Blaylock & Julie Thomas Powell...I will never forget!), to being Miss Westark 1980, to my pageant director and always #1 Fan, Mr. Stacey Jones, to basketball coach and cheerleading sponsor, Coach Jo Bottoms— what an influence in my life.” Lisa Beattie Bradley ’86 has worked with three- to fiveyear-olds at the First Lutheran Learning Center in Fort Smith for 13 years. She has two daughters,


2000s Yolanda Brooks Goins ’00 works for Fort Smith Regional Dialysis. “I credit the strong nursing program with the success I have had today in my nursing career,” she says. “I remember Ms. Synder, Ms. Lyad and Ms. Bates the most from my nursing years.” Neil Horton ’05 works as a construction manager specializing in Walmart renovations across the country. He spent 230 days in hotel rooms last year, but he also gets three-and-a-half months off for the holidays. Linda Darrough Williams ’06 earned her MBA from Webster University last year and welcomed a grandson, Keaton Bryson Murry, in November 2009. Her daughter, Synora Phillips, plays basketball for the Lady Lions. Nick Smith ’07 is Director of Marketing and Business Development at Employers’ Health Coalition in Fort Smith, where he has completed major deals recently with Blue Cross Blue Shield and Baldor.

BELL TOWER spring/summer 2010

Aaron Ewing ’06 in Fort Smith, March 2009

Have Drums, Will Travel Four years ago, Aaron Ewing ’06 was a UA Fort Smith music student who had never traveled beyond the five-state area. Now he’s a jazz drummer living in Manhattan’s East Village. He spends his days giving lessons, his nights playing in New York clubs and restaurants. UA Fort Smith didn’t teach him to pack his drum kit for subway travel—that he figured out on his own—but he says the school was his training ground for life as a musician in Manhattan. “It wasn’t unusual for me to have a couple of rehearsals in the afternoon for an event we’d perform at on campus that night,” Ewing says. Then he’d head downtown to play a midnight gig, and at eight the next morning he’d be ready for class again. Ewing says Don Bailey, associate professor of music and the Director of Jazz Studies, helped him narrow his focus to jazz and showed him around New York for the first time when they attended a music conference there in the spring of Ewing’s senior year. “I wasn’t one of those students just itching to get out of Arkansas,” Ewing says, “but I knew that if I wanted to move forward musically, I’d have to move to a big city.” He moved after graduation and went on to earn a master’s in jazz performance from NYU. Ewing’s jazz trio, Reed’s Bass Drum, just released its first album, Which is Which, available on iTunes. Whether he’s playing to a group of five or an audience of 1,000, Ewing says he’s always glad to be performing. “The interest of the audience and the energy and reactions of the other musicians make it exciting,” he says. “It’s a communication between us.” —Leslie Yingling

JOSH HURT ’03, ’06


16 and 12, and was divorced in early 2007.


The class notes section of an alumni magazine, according to dozens of reader surveys, is the one most readers turn to first. As you can see, though, in this debut issue we just don’t have a lot of them. That’s where you come in. Please take five minutes to sit down and tell us what you’ve been up to since your time at UA Fort Smith, Westark, or FSJC. Tell us about your job, your family, your hobbies, your adventures, your plans—whatever you want to share with fellow alumni. We love to get photos too, and we’ll happily run them in the magazine. Be sure to include your name (and your name while you were in school if it has changed since then) and the year you graduated or the years you attended. Email your class note to or mail it to UA Fort Smith Alumni Association, P.O. Box 3649, Fort Smith, AR 72913.

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REGIONAL RECEPTIONS Early this year, the Alumni Association hosted a series of three Regional Receptions in Tulsa, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Northwest Arkansas—all home to big concentrations of alumni. Guests reminisced over our collection of yearbooks, chatted with the Chancellor, bumped into old friends, listened to the University’s award-winning Jazz Catz vocal group, enjoyed dinner and refreshments on us, and left loaded down with goodies. The earliest graduate we met was Erma Thomson, who finished at Fort Smith Junior College in 1940, and the most recent was Gary Ellington, who earned his bachelor’s in IT from UA Fort Smith in 2008. We’ll be taking our show on the road again next winter. Stay tuned to your Alumni Online Community at www.uafortsmith for details.



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‘I Just Enjoy Living’ Mary Lou Pointon ’52 is a busy woman. When she isn’t at work for the Census Bureau, you might find her with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, the Fort Smith Garden Club, or one of the many other organizations she is active with—she has a hard time naming them all. So if you’re trying to get Pointon on the phone, you’ll likely get her answering machine, which bids you a “productive day” and reminds you to “keep smiling.” Pointon has long been driven by a cheerful work ethic. In 1952, when she was a student at UA Fort Smith (then Fort Smith Junior College), the school had just moved from its original location under the stadium stands at Fort Smith High School (now Northside) to occupy buildings at its current location that had been part of the county poor farm. She lived two blocks from the classroom building, where in the evenings, she says, she and her classmates returned for “work parties” to paint and clean. “There was a wonderful sense of camaraderie, and the teachers were very, very special,” she says, recalling name after name. She went on to live and teach in three other states and in Iran before returning to Fort Smith, which she calls “a wonderful place to be living and working in.” Pointon does plenty of both. In recent years she went back to work, graduated from Leadership Fort Smith, and began pursuing a doctoral degree—all after her 70th birthday. “My basic secret to success is that I don’t have a television,” she says. “I just enjoy living.” —Leslie Yingling


“There was a wonderful sense of camaraderie, and the teachers were very, very special.”

THIS MAN WILL MATCH $500K IN GIFTS TO UA FORT SMITH THE ANONYMOUS DONOR who has pledged to match $500,000 in new gifts to UA Fort Smith over the next five years would just as soon keep his name out of the headlines. “That’s not why I’m doing this,” he says. So why is he doing it? To motivate others to give. “I don’t want to match somebody’s gift who’s going to do it anyway,” he says. “I want this to be an inducement for people who wouldn’t give otherwise or who wouldn’t give as much.” Beyond that, there are no restrictions on the offer. The


Mary Lou Pointon ’52 at the Fort Smith R.S.V.P. office, Feb. 2010


BELL TOWER spring/summer 2010

donor’s matching contribution will go to one of his named family scholarship endowments, but gifts to be matched can go anywhere. “If somebody’s thinking about giving $1,000, $5,000, $50,000,” he says, “I want them to know it’s going to be matched. I want them to know they’ve got a chance to be part of a $1 million gift.” Contact UA Fort Smith Foundation Executive Director Marta Loyd at (479) 788-7021 for more information about having your gift matched.

“The donors you're seated with aren't just doing you a favor. They are helping you pay for a good set of tools, and they expect you to use those tools until their handles are worn smooth by your grip.” —Dr. Paul B. Beran, UA Fort Smith Chancellor, speaking to scholarship recipients at the 2009 Scholarship Banquet

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CAMPAIGN ROLLS TOWARD $50 MILLION GOAL foundation board and university representatives a chance to raise a significant portion of the goal before inviting further gifts from the public. The campaign went public last March. While major gifts make great headlines, Foundation Executive Director Marta Loyd says there’s still a long way to go and that the campaign’s ultimate success “is critically dependent on gifts of all sizes.” To learn more about Giving Opportunity, call the Foundation at (479) 788-7020 or email to request a copy of the campaign’s Case for Support.

35 30 DOLLARS ($ millions)

By the end of 2009, the UA Fort Smith Foundation’s Giving Opportunity Campaign had raised nearly $33.5 million—more than two-thirds of the campaign’s $50 million goal. With plans on the drawing board for transforming Boreham Library into a new University Learning & Research Center, campaign leaders are now shifting their focus to raising money in that area. The “quiet phase” of the campaign began in 2004 with a $5 million lead gift from Mrs. Donnie Pendergraft, which helped build the Pendergraft Health Sciences Center. A quiet phase gives the



25 20 15 10 5 0 University Learning & Research Center

Ongoing Annual Support


Faculty Leaders & Innovators

Endowed Scholarships


* gifts to areas other than designated campaign priorities


‘If the Old Man Can Do It…’ What it finally came down to for Rick Goins ’74, In a required physical science course that ’07 was that he just didn’t want to be the only first semester, a professor explaining a conone in his family without a bachelor’s. cept said to the class, “You’ll remember from He’d earned an associate degree from algebra that…” Westark back in 1974—the same year his Goins raised his hand and said, “That father opened Goins Furniture in downwas 30 years ago. You might need to town Fort Smith—but when he went to explain it again.” Fayetteville a few years later for his bacheDuring his first four semesters, Goins lor’s, he lasted just two semesters. “I was was able to go to school at night. But when majoring in Dickson Street,” he says. “I washe got to his upper-division courses, he n’t very focused.” worked at the store early, drove to campus Twenty-five years later, despite the fact for classes, then back to the store to finish that he now owned and ran the successful store, it work, and studied nights. The whole time, says still rankled him that he’d never finished that degree. Goins, “the faculty was just phenomenal—incredibly Rick Goins ’74, ’07 His family’s academic bent made matters worse, in supportive.” with his wife Dana a way. His wife, Dana, teaches at Southside High, Finally, in May 2008, he accepted his diploma on the UA Fort Smith his son graduated third in his class from Southside, with his wife and son in the audience. His daughter campus, May 2008 and his daughter graduated first. couldn’t make it; she was walking across a similar Finally, in the fall of 2001, still working full-time, stage in Fayetteville the exact same day. Goins enrolled as a history major at UA Fort Smith. It wasn’t that What was it like going to college at the same time as his he ever expected to “use” the degree—he was already in the kids? “Really neat,” says Goins. “When they’d complain, I could midst of a successful career, after all. Instead, he just wanted it. relate to them. But I think it worked as a little bit of a motivation And, of course, there was the matter of being the only person in for them too. You know, if the old man can do it…” —Zack Thomas the family without one.



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SAVE THE DATE FOR ALUMNI WEEKEND! Please plan to join us on campus October 15-17 for UA Fort Smith’s first-ever Alumni Weekend. Reunite with old friends, meet new ones, share good food and good fun, explore our growing campus, broaden your horizons with talks from dynamic professors, listen to great live music, and more. Watch www.uafortsmithalumni. com/alumniweekend for details or call (877) 303-8237.

November 2009


Mike Parris ’72, right, with Pete Howard in Fort Smith,

Going on Good Advice Mike Parris ’72 was deep into his second year at UA Fort Smith (then Westark) and still unsure



BELL TOWER spring/summer 2010


Hear from a different young alumnus every Friday at www.uafortsmithyoung Among the first posters were Rachel Solley ’06, who works for ABF in Chicago; Ray Malouf ’05, who appeared on the front page of the New York Times’ business section last year; and Brook Lang ’05, who studied IT but now co-owns the super-successful Ultimutt Dog Care in Fort Smith. Submissions are welcome— email alumni@uafortsmith. edu for details.

about his direction. It was his art professor’s unconventional encouragement that led him to a rewarding, self-propelled career that is thriving nearly 40 years later. Parris studied art under Pete Howard, retired professor of visual arts, and outside of class they talked about their common interests, including cars—Parris had an MG Roadster and Howard had a Triumph Roadster—and photography. There weren’t photography classes at the time, but Parris had picked up a 35 mm camera to play with, and Howard offered good tips. “One day he told me, ‘Mike, you’re not going to make it as an artist,’” Parris says. “But he saw that I had a good eye for photography and encouraged me to pursue it.” It turned out to be the best possible advice. Two weeks after graduating from Westark, Parris packed his little roadster and drove to California, where he earned a bachelor’s in photography and then worked as an automotive photographer in Los Angeles. In 1985, Parris joined Ford Motor Company as a PR manager and stayed for 16 years, earning a master’s in journalism along the way. In 2001 he left to start his own business, Parris Communications, which caters to the automotive industry with news gathering, Web management, writing, and photography. His articles and photographs have appeared in popular auto magazines, and he’s written two Ford history books. UA Fort Smith launched his career, Parris says, and Howard’s influence was pivotal in shaping it. “I just loved the guy,” Parris says, “and I really wanted to track him down and thank him.” He did just that, and last fall Parris and Howard saw each other again for the first time in 37 years. Parris believes that the secret to loving what you do is pursuing what you love. “Identify what you like to do and find a way to make a practical living at it,” he says. —Leslie Yingling

C3r1_UAFS_SPSU10:alum news



GLAD THAT’S OVER— It was a long, tough winter in the River Valley, with four major snowstorms, the first of which arrived on Christmas Eve and the last of which broke limbs off already-blooming trees on March 21. Two days later, with the afternoon temperature pushing 75 degrees, there were still a few patches of snow hanging on. On the upside, though, that cold, dreary winter kept distractions to a minimum while we put together this first issue of Bell Tower. And of course it was kind of pretty, too. Still, by the time spring came, we were sure ready for it—and ready to finally print this magazine, which has been so long coming.

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Bell Tower

UA Fort Smith Alumni Association P.O. Box 3649 Fort Smith, AR 72913

A Look Back

IN 1952, WHEN FORT SMITH JUNIOR COLLEGE moved into a pair of stately but badly deteriorated old buildings at the corner of Grand Avenue and Waldron Road, students and faculty pitched in together, sweeping and scrubbing, refitting and repainting. Money was tight for the newly private college, and most of the work on the buildings—which until the year before had served as the county infirmary and poor farm— was done by volunteers. In 1967, the larger of the two—known then as the old main building— was finally deemed to0 costly to repair and demolished. But not before a whole generation of students had climbed its wide steps, heard lectures in its upstairs classrooms, and visited, studied, played cards, and fed the jukebox in the student lounge in its basement. Were you one of them? We’d love to hear your recollections! We’d also appreciate hearing thoughts about the magazine, responses to articles, and ideas for future issues. Drop us a line at or Bell Tower Magazine, P.O. Box 3649, Fort Smith, AR 72913.


Bell Tower, Spring 2010  

The Alumni Magazine of the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith

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