Page 1

C1r1_UAFS_SPSU11:covers 1&4 6/13/11 2:05 PM Page C1

The Alumni Magazine of the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith

REEL INSPIRATION Getting back outdoors after a spinal injury wasn’t enough for

RANCE BIGHORSE ’84— now he helps others do the same

8 Chef Eddy’s Blues / 12 Surgical Tech / 18 Drennen–Scott / 30 Alumni Weekend


Bell Tower


C2r1_UAFS_SPSU11:toc & letters 6/10/11 6:25 PM Page C2

The Diamond Lions fought just to stay above the .500 mark for the first part of the 2011 season before suddenly catching fire in mid-April and winning 10 of their last 13 games to finish the season at 25-21, a marked improvement over last year’s 13-21 record. Junior Kyle Thompson (above) pitched the wildest game of the season, a 21-3 pummeling of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in front of home fans on a balmy spring afternoon at Crowder Field.


by Kat Wilson ’96

01r2_UAFS_SPSU11:toc & letters 6/13/11 12:50 PM Page 1


volume 2, number 1


FROM THE CHANCELLOR Connecting education with careers


@UAFORTSMITH Alumni letters


GRAND + WALDRON tuition | volunteers | parking | fountain fixed | photo exhibit | blues collection | fashion | remote BAS | student support


5Q Dr. Williams Yamkam, political aficionado


SENSE OF PLACE Pendergraft 339


KNOWLEDGE BASE Chef David Wagner on pork roulades


EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITY Dr. Dennis Siler, English professor/master luthier


LIONS LOWDOWN men’s golf | Hal Smith ’49 | toy toss | Ashley Arnold ’11 | spring signings


fea t u re s 18

IF THESE WALLS ... Now a museum, the Drennen Scott House in Van Buren tells the remarkable stories of frontier power-broker John Drennen, the generations that followed him, and the region itself. By Eric Francis


RANCE BIGHORSE HAS A SMILE ON HIS FACE After a truck accident left the former Westark pitcher numb from the chest down, his love of woods and waters helped pull him through. By Ty Stockton

28 ALUMNI + FRIENDS growing together | class notes | Rebecca Hurst ’01 (UC) | alumni weekend 2011 | regional receptions | Rennetta Carter ’87 | Steve Lovick ’83 | student alumni



02r1_UAFS_SPSU11:toc & letters 6/10/11 6:26 PM Page 2

From the Chancellor

Bell Tower Spring/Summer 2011 Volume 2, Number 1

Connecting Education with Careers

The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith

CHANCELLOR Paul B. Beran, Ph.D.



Marta M. Loyd, Ed.D.


EDITOR Zack Thomas

CONTRIBUTORS Robert Bell, Eric Francis, Jessica Martin, Ty Stockton ZACK THOMAS

Chatting with Jeff Taylor ’11 at this spring’s



chilly Homecoming tailgate. ADVISORY BOARD

The difference is that the level of training and education required for those careers has increased. So out of our two-year CADD program has emerged a four-year computer animation degree. Out of our two-year nursing program grew first an online, associateto-bachelor “completer” program and then a full BSN program. And out of our two-year associate of applied science programs came a unique completer degree for working adults who want to complete a bachelor’s, the Bachelor of Applied Science (p. 9). For better or worse, times change, and in order to continue serving the higher education needs of Greater Fort Smith as this institution has done for 83 years, we have to change with them. I’m proud of the way we’re doing that, and I hope you are too.

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; Dr. Lee Krehbiel, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs; Elizabeth Underwood, Director of Alumni Affairs; Jeff Harmon, Director of University Marketing and Communications


s those of you who live here in Greater Fort Smith probably don’t need me to tell you, the heavy equipment is rolling again on our campus. It seems like it wasn’t more than a few weeks ago we finished the new parking lots, pond, and playing field on the east side of Waldron Road (see p. 5), and now the excavators, dozers, loaders, and dump trucks are already back. This time, they’re clearing land for the construction of the Learning and Research Center at Boreham Library, a 40,000-squarefoot addition along the south side of the existing library that will more than double library seating, add 214 new computer stations, make room for more than 50,000 new volumes, and create a 24-hour study area and computer lab. The addition—and concurrent refit of Boreham—are long overdue. In the 24 years since Boreham was completed, UA Fort Smith’s student headcount has more than doubled, we’ve emerged from being a twoyear college into a full-fledged regional university with close to 40 different majors for bachelor’s students and 47 total courses of study, and we’ve gone from zero on-campus residents to more than 700, with room for several hundred more. With all this growth, it’s fair to ask—as some have—whether we might be forgetting where we came from and what made the institution strong. I want to assure you that we’re not. In fact, the focus of this institution remains largely the same as it has always been—educating students for real work in the real world, or, as our new vision statement puts it, “connecting education with careers.”

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: (800) 532-9094. Email:


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 publication of all letters. Anonymous letters will not be

published. Send letters to belltower@uafortsmith.

PAUL B. BERAN, Ph.D. Chancellor

edu or Bell Tower Magazine, P.O. Box 3649, Fort Smith, AR 72913.

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

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 2011

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

Contents ©2011 by the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith.

03r1_UAFS_SPSU11:toc & letters 6/10/11 6:27 PM Page 3


OUR KIND OF LETTER I want to let you know that I got my Bell Tower today and finished reading it this afternoon. I really enjoyed the reading, and there was a variation in the articles. The publication was awesome, and I will be looking forward to future issues. Thanks for all you do for the college. BILLY CATER ’10, RN, NREMT-P via email Thanks, Billy. Check’s in the mail. —Ed.

THOUGHTS ON MCKENNON I greatly appreciate your article on Maj. Pierce McKennon, USAAF, and his accomplishments [“Too Glorious to Last,� Fall/Winter 2010]. I have read of him in other places, but your article treated him as the main subject, which he greatly deserved. Had he been in the Navy or the Marines, he would have been awarded the Medal of Honor after becoming an ace, but the

brass of the USAAF thought that he and others like him were just doing their duty. What a shame! CLARENCE C. COLLUM ’83, LTC FA U.S. ARMY (RET.) Fort Smith

the Courthouse? If not, perhaps you can direct me to someone who can help. It’s a part of my family’s history we want to be able to pass along to our children. LAURA GARCIA ’77, RN Little Rock


Readers with information for Ms. Garcia can write or email us at the magazine and we’ll pass the info along. —Ed.

My father, Doyle H. Cole ’42, was a member of the basketball team (captain of it, in fact) when it was still the Westark Lions. There is now a UAFS basketball scholarship in his name. He also played high school tennis, basketball, etc. in Fort Smith. My mother told me when I was younger that at one time the Lions played in the basement of the Parker Courthouse. I may be remembering things wrong, but it would have been near the beginning of World War II. Do you have anything in your archives about the Lions playing in the basement of

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND? We’d love to hear from you! Tell us what you think of the magazine, respond to an article, suggest an idea for a future issue, or ask us whatever burning question comes to mind. Email your letter to or mail it to Bell Tower Magazine, P.O. Box 3649, Fort Smith, AR 72913.

Save the date! October 14 - 15, 2011 r


2nd Annual Alumni Weekend


All alumni and friends of UA Fort Smith, Westark, and Fort Smith Junior College are welcome!

Th ononly The we’ere missing thhin hin hi ing ng we w e’re m mi issi iss ssin ing ng oonl nly nl ly tthing

is you. . .



University of Arkansas - Fort Smith Alumni Association

04r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/10/11 7:36 PM Page 4


Tuition Increase to Help Offset Community Lagging State Support Pride $10,000

Dollars per Student





0 FY01










Total operating revenues per student (green) come from two main sources—state funding

NON-TRADITIONAL STUDENT Carl DeBose, who helped weed the play area, trim the hedges, and clean the rain gutters at Esther House, a temporary residence for homeless women and their children, was one of 90 or so students who fanned out across Fort Smith for Lion Community Outreach Day on a muggy Saturday morning in April. Others painted inside and outside at Boys & Girls Club locations, sorted cans at the Regional Food Bank, tidied up the Humane Society’s cemetery grounds, put together booths for the Heritage Festival at the Fort Smith Historic Site, and cleaned the Salvation Army’s warehouse. It was the eighth year for the annual student volunteer effort.

(blue) and net tuition and fees (red). As state funding has declined since 2008, tuition and fees have covered a growing percentage of the cost of a UA Fort Smith education.


BELL TOWER spring/summer 2011

receiving less state funding per student than any other university in the UA system, UA Fort Smith is thriving—not just enrolling more students, but offering more programs, recruiting stronger faculty, building better facilities, and enjoying a growing academic reputation. As state support continues to decline, though, and enrollment continues to grow— and, along with it, operating costs like payroll, utilities, insurance, and maintenance— tuition and fees must cover an increasing portion of the university’s operating budget. In fact, 2011 was the first year in decades when revenue from tuition and fees exceeded state revenue. The trend continues. In FY 2012, tuition and fees (including non-credit tuition and non-mandatory fees) are projected to cover about half of the University’s $61.1 million budget, while state appropriations will cover less than 40%. Revenue from a local sales tax, sales and services, investment income, grants, and private philanthropy provide most of the remainder.


UA FORT SMITH officials expect to receive about $23.08 million in state funds for fiscal year 2012, a slight increase from $22.94 million in FY 2011 but, if enrollment forecasts prove accurate, another decrease on a perstudent basis. In fact, state dollars per full-time-equivalent student have decreased at UA Fort Smith—as they have at most public universities across the nation—from a high of $5,113 in 2001 to less than $4,000 today. Adjusted for inflation, the decline has been even greater—roughly 40%. To help meet growing demand (full-timeequivalent enrollment has grown by some 25% over the last three years) while state funding lags, the university recently announced an approximately $175-per-semester increase to in-state tuition and fees. The other universities in the University of Arkansas system announced similar increases. UA Fort Smith, though, remains among the most affordable four-year colleges in Arkansas—and among the most efficient. Despite

Carl DeBose was one of nearly 100 students who pitched in to help local nonprofits and charities for April’s Lion Community Outreach Day.

05r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/13/11 3:43 PM Page 5

points of pride Reappointed to three committees of the Arkansas Bar Association, Lynn Lisk, who directs UA Fort Smith’s Legal Assistance/ Paralegal program. They include the Standing Committee on Paralegals, of which he is a charter member, and the Mock Trial and Law Related Education committees. Lisk is also regional director of the Bar Association’s High School Mock Trial Competition.

In addition to 382 much-needed parking places, UA Fort Smith has a new pond, path, and soccer field.

Decorated with 46 individual awards, including 12 firsts and 15 seconds, in categories like Computer Applications, Business Law, Strategic Management, and Marketing Analysis, the UA Fort Smith chapter of Phi Beta Lambda, an organization for students preparing for careers in business, at the PBL state leadership conference in April. All 23 members who attended qualified to compete at the national conference this summer in Orlando, and Dr. Latisha Settlage was named Arkansas PBL Adviser of the Year.


More Parking, Plus a Pond and Playing Field IT ONLY TAKES FLIPPING through a few old yearbooks or student newspapers to figure out that abundant parking has never been one of UA Fort Smith’s best features. But with enrollment growing steadily and expected to break 8,000 this fall, the situation was becoming critical. So administrators decided to finally break ground on the undeveloped block on the east side of Waldron Road, across from the old technical buildings and today’s Pendergraft Health Sciences Center, creating 382 additional parking spaces. There’s much more to the project than asphalt and curbs, though. In fact, the new parking lots cover only a small part of the block, while the rest remains green. A lighted walking trail winds around two ponds connected by a small waterfall and rimmed with huge pieces of local limestone quarried near Hackett. An arbor near the lower pond makes a pleasant gathering spot for students and the community alike. And east of the ponds, a new regulation soccer field will be ready for intramural sports this fall and possibly intercollegiate play in the future.


“It’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it.”

—CHANCELLOR PAUL B. BERAN on the decision to offer a pair of full scholarships

that will allow Japanese college students from the region devastated by March’s quake and tsunami to finish their education at UA Fort Smith.

Reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly in a starred review, adjunct faculty member Matthew Henriksen’s debut book of poetry, Ordinary Sun, which PW called “one of the most striking collections from a small press this year.” Another reviewer, Kelly Forsythe, writing in Newcity Lit, says the collection, released this spring, is “easily one of the most sensitive and symbolically complicated books released thus far in 2011.”

Granted to the UAFS chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, the International Honor Society in Education, funding for five middle level education students to not only give illustrated book talks to students at Butterfield Junior High in March, but also to present a $200 gift certificate for books to the school’s librarian. The Literacy Alive grant was secured by senior Margaret Hall, chapter vice president.

Selected in January to serve on the Environmental Science Peer Review Committee for the Fulbright Specialist Program, biology professor Dr. Ragupathy Kannan, who will evaluate the credentials of U.S. scholars applying for Fulbright grants to pursue short-term collaborative projects at universities abroad. Kannan himself spent six months in his native India in 2007 as a Fulbright Scholar.

Invited to perform at the Region 6 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in San Antonio in February, the UAFS production of Imogen, an original play by theater

(continued on page 7)



06r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/10/11 7:36 PM Page 6


Water Boys

Juniors Harold McKeown (left) and Adam Schwartz

EVERY SPRING, students taking Cameron McKinney’s Advanced Program Logic Controllers write intricate programs to control the laminar jet fountain installation in front of the Baldor Technology Center. Trouble is, it’s been years since the fountain actually worked, so the students got to watch the results of their programming only as a computer simulation. Until this spring, that is, when juniors Harold McKeown and Adam Schwartz decided they’d prefer to see the real thing. Pretty soon, they’d struck a deal with Plant Operations—if they’d to the work, Plant Ops would buy the parts. After three or four years of disuse and Fort Smith weather, the complex plumbing, circuitry, and machinery were rusty, deteriorated, and badly in need of … well, two guys who knew about that kind of stuff to make up their minds they were going to fix it. And just in time for finals, after weeks of wet, chilly, knuckle-skinning work, McKeown and Schwartz had the fountain fully revived, with all 25 nozzles sending their weirdly solid streams arcing improbably through the air. Next time you’re around campus, swing by and enjoy it for a few minutes.

spent much of the spring semester repairing the laminar jet fountain in front of Baldor.





BELL TOWER spring/summer 2011

We didn’t plan it, but for some reason this issue ended up populated by lots of couples who first met at UA Fort Smith/Westark/Fort Smith Junior College—Rance Bighorse and his wife Linda (p. 24), Rennetta and Terrence Carter (p. 31), and a bunch more in the class notes starting on p. 28. Then there’s Jacob ’09 and Hillary Welch Kleck ’10, who even had their engagement photos shot on campus (left). A mechanical engineering major and an electrical engineering major, they met working a National Engineers Week event in early 2008 and married a week after Hillary’s graduation in May 2010. Did you meet your better half at UA Fort Smith (or Westark or FSJC)? Tell us about it, and we’ll share your story in a future issue. Mail stories and pictures to belltower@ or Bell Tower magazine, P.O. Box 3649, Fort Smith, AR 72913.

07r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/10/11 7:37 PM Page 7

points of pride (continued from page 5)

Kerry, Wilson ’96

Focus on the Fort OPENING IN FEBRUARY IN THE SMITH-PENDERGRAFT CAMPUS CENTER, “FOCUS on the Fort: Three Photographic Perspectives” showcased the work of university photographer Kat Wilson, provost Ray Wallace, and humanities and social sciences dean Henry Rinne. Wilson, a Fort Smith native, showed gritty, panoramic portraits of her father and his acquaintances. Rinne concentrated on “the built environment—how humans create and shape their spaces.” And Wallace shot the city’s sculptures and statues, from the conspicuous to the forgotten. The exhibit was sponsored by the Chancellor’s Coalition for the Visual Arts, which collects and exhibits works of art for the benefit of UA Fort Smith students and the larger community.

Named one of just 85 researchers this year to receive a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, adjunct faculty member Dr. Mike Looper, a renowned scientist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service at the Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center in Booneville, who has authored or co-authored more than 160 articles with titles like “Influence of toxic endophyte-infected fescue on sperm characteristics and endocrine factors of yearling Brahman-influenced bulls.”

Published this spring by the College of Business, the inaugural issue of Advances in Business Research, the university’s first peerreviewed journal. Edited by Dr. Mohamed Zainuba, the annual journal includes work by business scholars from universities across the country, many of whom convened last fall at the Fort Smith Convention Center to present their research to fellow authors, the UA Fort Smith business faculty, and hundreds of business students at a two-day symposium that is planned to become an annual event.

^ Placed third in an intense, five-hour programming competition at the Mid-South Conference of the Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges in April, one of UA Fort Smith’s three-person computer programming teams—senior John Hollingsworth, junior Adam Shaver, and freshman Sebastian Bossarte, who competed against teams from across Arkansas and four other states.

Nickel & Dime Diner, Rinne

Garrison Avenue Bridge, Rinne Like the Chancellor’s Coalition on Facebook to hear about upcoming art openings, receptions, and exhibits.

Aiding the Wounded, Wallace

program director Bob Stevenson, with junior Laura Wineland in the title role. One of just six productions from the entire region—Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas—performed at the festival, Imogen previously scored a boatload of awards at the state level, including the coveted Directors’ Choice award, which brought with it the fourth regional nomination in five years for the UAFS theater program.

Honored with the Linda A. Wardhammar Kaleidoscope Award at the Central Fraternal Leadership Conference in St. Louis in February, UA Fort Smith’s fraternity-sorority community, for its Crosswalk Safety Awareness Program in partnership with university police. The award, given annually to only one fraternity-sorority community in North America, recognizes innovative and progressive initiatives. The UAFS Greek community also received an award for maintaining an average GPA (2.71) above the university average.



08r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/10/11 7:37 PM Page 8


Trashion Fashion

Everybody Gets the Blues Chef Eddy’s collection now at UAFS library

INCOMING FRESHMAN Michaela Shaw walked the runway at Second Street Live this April during Trashion Fashion Experiment 011 in a dress made by her older sister, sophomore studio art major Savanna Shaw, from white duct tape and more than 450 cupcake


BY THE TIME he passed away in 2007, Fort Smith radio personality and walking blues encyclopedia Jim “Chef Eddy” McCormick had amassed one of the best blues collections in the South—more than 1,700 CDs, ranging from Depression-era progenitors like W.C. Handy and Bessie Smith to contemporary bluesmen and women like Keb Mo and Susan Tedeschi. McCormick lived to share the music he loved and the stories behind it. His radio show, “Chef Eddy’s Blues Revue,” aired weekly on KLSZ Rock 100.7, and he was a central figure in the Riverfront Blues Festival and several similar events. A 1970 Westark graduate, he also taught a blues enrichment series on campus. Now, in a way, McCormick is sharing the blues again. Late last year, his family gave his entire collection to UA Fort Smith, where the CDs are available for checkout from Boreham Library by not only students, but anyone with a Fort Smith library card. “We feel honored with the opportunity to donate a small piece of his legacy to the UA Fort Smith library,” says McCormick’s sister, Paula Udouj. “Jim loved the community, and the community loved Jim.”

Jim “Chef Eddy” McCormick left behind a world-class blues collection that now resides in UA Fort Smith’s Boreham Library.


liners. The evening art exhibit/fashion show featured dozens of wildly imaginative garments made from discarded and recyclable materials—bubble wrap, phone books, paint chip cards, cereal boxes, air mail envelopes, grocery bags, Burger King cups—by students in Chadd Wilson’s 3D Design classes. MORE ONLINE: at


BELL TOWER spring/summer 2011

Monte Moore Babitzke ’64 (second from left) and her friends CB Graham, Mary Koncsics, and Gayle Hatwig didn’t find out until they’d already arrived at New York’s Palace Theater to see the Broadway musical adaption of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert that feather boas were de rigueur for the show. In the lobby, though, a couple of other theatre-goers at least let them borrow their boas for a picture. The friends, along with 20 other travelers from the River Valley, were on a fourday tour of New York with UA Fort Smith’s Center for Lifelong Learning. They also visited the Statue of Liberty, ate at Sardi’s, explored Times Square, surveyed the city from the Top of the Rock, and caught Mary Poppins on Broadway. “We had a blast,” says Babitzke. “Can you tell?”

09r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/10/11 7:38 PM Page 9

‘Have Robe, Will Travel’ Applied Science faculty hit the road to confer degrees on distance-learning grads “WE TOLD THEM they’d never have to come to campus for anything, and we hold to that promise even through commencement,” says Dr. Leroy Cox of students earning the Bachelor of Applied Science degree from UA Fort Smith at campuses throughout the state. “Plus, we feel it’s important to honor them in their own communities.” To that end, Cox hits the road at the end of each semester with Dr. Georgia Hale, dean of the College of Applied Science and Technology, and Stacy Loseke, program coordinator in the Delta region, for a multicity commencement tour, showing up at one graduation ceremony after another to confer degrees on their students. “It’s kind of like ‘have robe, will travel,’” says Cox, who directs the BAS program. This May, the three visited East Arkansas Community College in Forrest City, the U of A Community College at Batesville, Mid-South Community College in West Memphis, and Phillips Community College of the U of A in Helena. (UA Fort Smith also offers the BAS degree in partnership with seven other colleges in the state.) In many instances, UA Fort Smith’s unique “completer” program represents the only realistic shot at a baccalaureate degree for working adults bound by jobs, families, or finances to places without four-year colleges nearby. “When you live in Helena, Arkansas, the closest university is three hours up the road, and you know you can’t do that,” says Cox. So UA Fort Smith brings the university to the student through a combination of online courses and “attending” classes in Fort Smith via live videoconferencing. The downfall of previous attempts to offer degrees at Arkansas community colleges—particularly in the Delta—was that there often weren’t enough students on a given campus for classes to “make,” leaving students idle. But with new distance-learning technologies and smart administration, remote BAS students—even if there’s only one of them on a given campus—can prog-

and other graduate programs, moving to managerial positions within their companies or more lucrative positions in other organizations, even one who called Cox recently to report that she’d just accepted a new six-figure job. But of course professional advancement isn’t the only measure of success. “We recognize that advanced education does not guarantee employment,” says Cox. “But we’re making a way and providing an opportunity where there was none before. That’s the broader impact.”

ress steadily through the program. Most BAS students—both remote and in Fort Smith—are working adults who already have an Associate of Applied Science degree. They’ve typically gone as far as they can with the AAS—a technical degree that doesn’t dovetail well with traditional B.A. and B.S. degrees—and found themselves professionally stalled for lack of a baccalaureate, while less experienced employees with freshly minted four-year degrees get supervisory positions. The success stories are numerous—graduates going on to law school

DELIVERING THE GOODS as North Arkansas College

ì ì

UA Fort Smith



U of A CC at a Morrilton

U of A CC C at Batesville B a


s Arkansas ern n Northeastern College

ì ì Mid-South h CC

East Arka Arkansas kan nsas CC


Ric i h Rich Mountain CC

ì National Park CC


Phillips ips CC of the U of A, Stuttgart


Phillips CC of the U of A, DeWitt

Phillips CC of the th U of A, Helena-West H l Helena

UA Fort Smith’s College of Applied Science and Technology offers the Bachelor of Applied Science degree at 11 campuses across Arkansas.



10r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/13/11 3:43 PM Page 10


‘Kyleigh, Meet College. College, Kyleigh.’ New program introduces first-generation students to campus life, academics


The Student Support Services program eases the transition into college for first-generation students like Kyleigh Solley, filling out paperwork with program director Amanda Seidenzahl.

IT CAN BE AN ACT OF real bravery— committing to a college education when your family doesn’t fully understand what you’re doing or why you’re doing it, or, worse, thinks you’re making the wrong choice. And then, once the decision is made, forging ahead through a foreign landscape of

pressures and competing priorities to graduation. Then again, it shouldn’t be surprising either that all it takes to significantly improve their chances is a bit of extra guidance and support. The new Student Support Services program at UA Fort Smith, funded through

“When your parents don’t go to college, you just don’t know how it goes.” FAFSAs and pre-reqs and drop/add dates can be just as daunting. Of course, it’s not that way for every first-generation student, but it is for many of them. So it should come as no great surprise that they don’t all make it through the gauntlet of financial obligations and family


BELL TOWER spring/summer 2011

a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, aims to provide that support for firstgeneration students, low-income students, and students with disabilities. Once enrolled, they complete a mandatory two hours a week of tutoring or concentrated study (plus all the additional

free tutoring they want), meet with program advisors four times per semester, and attend workshops on subjects like budgeting, study tactics, and calculator skills. Students like first-generation freshman Kyleigh Solley benefit from the structured approach. “There are a lot of times when I don’t feel like I have the time,” she says, “but when you have to go to the [program] office and sit down to study, you get stuff done,” she says. Solley also appreciates the help she gets navigating the college environment. “When your parents don’t go to college, you get there and think, ‘Oh my gosh, what am I even supposed to do?’ You just don’t know how it goes.” So far, she seems to be settling in just fine—already ahead of schedule to graduate with an education degree in 2014, keeping her grades up, working part-time in the financial aid office, hoping to teach and coach high school basketball. Although first-generation and lowincome students still aren’t nearly as likely to graduate as others, Student Support Services programs across the country are producing more students like Solley every year. Nationally, the percentage of first-year participants returning to school for a second year rose steadily from 67% in 2001 to 82% in 2008. More participants are earning degrees, too. One of those is Nicole Stuart, a product of the Student Support Services program at Ouachita Baptist University who went on to earn her master’s in higher education and now works as a retention advisor in the UA Fort Smith program. In fact, all three full-time staffers in the program were firstgeneration students themselves. So was program director Amanda Seidenzahl, who started out in Talent Search— a close cousin of Student Support Services— and ended up with a master’s degree and now an opportunity to, as she puts it, “show students that their dreams can become reality,” just as hers did.

11r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/10/11 7:45 PM Page 11


Dr. Williams Yamkam “Growing up in Cameroon, I had this idea of America as the ultimate democratic system,” says Assistant Professor of Political Science Williams Yamkam. “My main reason for being here is that I just wanted to experience that, wanted to breathe the fresh air.” Yamkam came to the U.S. as a student in 2001, ultimately earning his doctorate at Wayne State in Michigan before coming to UA Fort Smith. Endlessly fascinated by American


Q 5 politics, he attended both the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis and the Democratic in Denver in 2008. In an era of partisan dogma, Yamkam preaches the importance of an educated, critical electorate and does what he can to create it. “In the classroom,” he says, “you work toward that goal of just making people think on their own and not necessarily rely on what they hear.”


From your unique perspective, what’s the most striking thing about our politics?

be more able to keep their political leaders in check.

What is really inspiring to me is that here, no matter how intense the political debate is, at the end of the day people respect the rules and believe the political system can resolve those conflicts. In some African countries, you’ll have groups disagreeing over a political issue, and the next second, you see them taking up arms and fighting each other.



In an age of heavily biased media, how do you get the “real” news?

Just being aware of the possibility of bias, being aware that what you get from the media might not necessarily be true is a start. Now that we have a democratization of information—with talk radio, blogs, and so forth— you can at least find different perspectives. And based on your own analysis, you can come closer to the truth. In a sense, the decline in the trust of the media by the American people could be a good thing because it could at least galvanize news consumers to do more of their own homework. So we could wind up having a better citizenry that will

What’s the most interesting campaign you’ve ever followed?

The democratic primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was one for the ages. When she lost in Iowa, all the pollsters, all the pundits said it was over. The day before the New Hampshire primary all the polls suggested she was going to lose it, too. But then at a town hall meeting someone asked her a question, and she teared up. Literally overnight, that reached democratic women and mothers in New Hampshire, and they stormed out to the polls. And she won the primary. It was a complete shock. No one had predicted that, and it wasn’t captured by any of the polls. Those are the types of races that are really fun to watch.


Does our system of government still work today?

When you read our founding documents, you just kind of marvel at the foresight the founding fathers had. They really put an emphasis on an educated citizenry to make

sure the system would remain vibrant. That’s very, very important, because at the end of the day, the voters are the boss and they need to know whether the person they hired to do x, y, and z is doing those things. If not, they need to fire him or her and hire somebody else. And you can’t do that by just sitting back and not paying attention to what’s going on.


Care to go out on a limb and predict who wins the presidency in 2012?

What I will say is that despite the fact that the economy is still shaky—usually a very bad indication for an incumbent—Barack Obama’s approval rating is fairly good. Now that doesn’t mean that he cannot be beaten. I think it all hinges on who the Republican Party nominates. They can’t come up with someone who can be easily discounted as far to the right or extreme—like Sharron Angle, who lost to Harry Reid in Nevada when she should have been a shoo-in. No one can predict at this point—the outcome may depend on some completely unforeseen factor—but Barack Obama is certainly vulnerable.



12r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/10/11 7:45 PM Page 12

Sense of Place



3 2

6 5

PENDERGRAFT HEALTH SCIENCES CENTER 339: The Surgical Technology Lab Three floors up in the southwest corner of Pendergraft, the Surgical Tech Lab just might have the best view on campus. The people who spend the most time there, though, don’t get to see much of it. They’re too busy practicing the skills they’ll soon use in real operating rooms, where they’re responsible for a dizzying variety of high-tech equipment and instrumentation.


BELL TOWER spring/summer 2011

1. Executive director: Dr. Sydney Fulbright, who runs the surgical technology program, first scrubbed in at the old downtown St. Edward hospital in 1974, fresh out of an associate degree program at the University of Central Arkansas, and has spent a good part of the subsequent 37 years in operating rooms. Along the way, she picked up a second associate degree from Westark, a bachelor’s in nursing, a master’s in nursing, and a Ph.D. in health science. Direct but good humored— and a bit motherly toward her students—

13r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/10/11 7:44 PM Page 13

days in the lab for Practicum I, learning about sterile technique, operating room setup, patient positioning, instruments, equipment, hospital hierarchy, and cultural quirks related to surgery. After that, they move on to the hospital, where they’ll do 20 hours a week of clinical practice—starting at a jaunty 6:15 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday—for the remainder of the program. The other two days of the week are spent on campus, learning about disease processes and surgical procedures. “Whether it’s something they’re actually going to be doing or not, they still need to learn everything that’s going on in that room,” says Fulbright.



3. Surgical model:


During Practicum I, local surgeons visit the lab to perform mock surgeries— hernia repairs, appendectomies, breast biopsies, tubal ligations—while students pass them instruments, run equipment, and maintain the sterile field. For maximum realism, they operate on detailed models with rubber blood vessels and foam tissue layers—skin, fat, muscle, and fascia, all represented by different colors and densities. “The main thing is for students to learn how to interact with the surgeon,” says Fulbright. “They’ve seen these surgeons on TV screaming and throwing things, and it’s just not that way. They have to learn to see them as colleagues working together for the patient.”

she has taught full-time for 13 years now but maintains her certification as an operating room nurse and keeps her skills up practicing alongside students in local hospitals. 2. Surgical Technology Practicum I:

Prospective surgical tech students complete a year worth of science-heavy general education before applying to enter the intensive second year of the program. Once admitted, they spend two days a week in the classroom and, for the first nine weeks, the other three

4. Protective clothing: Modern safety

standards mandate more protection than ever in the OR. Reinforced gown sleeves resist blood better, and face shields keep

splatters out of eyes. Gloves come in different thicknesses, but students always wear the heaviest ones. “They’re a little bit clumsier at this point,” says Fulbright, “so they have to wear the ones that are more puncture resistant.” 5. Surgical instruments: There are liter-

ally thousands of different surgical instruments, most of which are named not for their function or appearance—which would make things too easy—but rather for the doctors who invented them. So instead of curved forceps, they’re Kellys. Or Cushings, or Raneys, or any of a hundred other doctors’ last names. To make matters worse—or at least more confusing—the names are highly localized. “Students may learn this instrument as a light Kelly at one hospital,” says Fulbright, “but they go across town and it’s called a collar clamp, and then they go to another part of the country and all the instruments are called something else.” 6. Suturing supplies: Natural thread made

from silk or from cow or sheep intestines is still used in some applications, but most of today’s suture—the thread used for sewing patients up—is synthetic. Absorbable suture, which naturally degrades and disappears with time, is used in quick-healing areas like bowels. Non-absorbable is used for suturing things like heart vessels, where, Fulbright says, with her usual understatement, “it would be best if it didn’t absorb and let go.” Local hospitals donate most of the lab’s zillion different kinds of suture and other supplies—everything from syringes and gauze to stuff with cringe-inducing names like bone wax and spinal needles. 7. Laparoscopic equipment: Laparoscopic surgery—operating on the abdomen by video camera through small puncture holes rather than a big incision—cuts recovery times down dramatically. The abdomen is first inflated with CO2 to create working space, and then long tubes called “ports” are inserted through the abdominal wall. Special cameras, lights, and instruments slip through the ports and into the abdomen, and techs direct the camera while the surgeon operates. “All these students now grew up playing video games,” Fulbright says, “so they catch on to this stuff in no time.”



14r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/10/11 7:44 PM Page 14

Knowledge Base

‘It’s a Beautiful Thing’


DAVID WAGNER’S THIRD dish, lamb chops with feta cheese tapenade over parmesan risotto, may have cemented the win, but it was his first, brie-stuffed pork roulades, that set the tone for the competition. Wagner, Sodexo’s executive chef at UA Fort Smith, was cooking against Randy Page, the food-service company’s executive chef at Arkansas State, in a “Battle of the Chefs” at the Lion’s Den dining hall in April. Set up to imitate TV’s Iron Chef—complete with a surprise secret ingredient (imported cheeses), a judges’ panel, and a live audience of students—the showdown required the chefs to fire off three dishes apiece, on the clock and under pressure. Wagner walked away with a narrow victory and an invitation to ASU for a rematch. He’ll also take on a chef from the University of Tulsa in the fall. After seeing the secret ingredient, Wagner and sous chef Jody Casher came up with the roulades on the spot. “You can’t go wrong with fried pork and cheese,” Wagner says. “It’s a beautiful thing.” Served over a red wine reduction and drizzled with scallion oil, the roulades look and taste extravagant, but they’re surprisingly simple. Serve them as a main dish for three or four, or slice them into thinner “pinwheels” for appetizers. BRIE-STUFFED PORK ROULADES (sounds like “roo-lahds”) Pork tenderloin, 1 to 1-1/2 lbs. About 4 oz. brie cheese 1-1/2 cups flour 4 eggs, beaten with a splash of milk 2 cups bread crumbs or panko 1 bottle good pinot noir 1 shallot, minced 1/4 cup heavy cream 1/4 lb. butter, at room temperature 2 cups chopped scallions or green onions white pepper About 2 cups extra virgin olive oil salt


BELL TOWER spring/summer 2011

Pork Slice pork tenderloin into 1/2-inch-thick “steaks.” Cut brie into French fry-shaped strips. Pound slices of tenderloin to about 1/4 inch thick. Season pork to taste with salt and pepper. Roll each pork piece around one or two strips of brie, tucking the ends in like a burrito if possible. Dredge rolled pork in flour, then dip in egg mixture, then coat with bread crumbs. Deep fry pork until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. OR pan fry until golden brown on all sides, then bake at 400 degrees until done.

Red Wine Sauce Combine wine and shallot in saucepan and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat, whisk in cream, and simmer until reduced by about two-thirds and liquid will coat the back of a spoon. Strain out minced shallots if desired. Whisk in butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Scallion Oil Add scallion or green onion and a little salt and pepper to blender. Blend on high while drizzling in olive oil until mixture is a thick liquid.

15r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/13/11 3:44 PM Page 15


Dr. Dennis Siler, English professor/luthier



Dr. Dennis Siler in his garage

saw—rests on a workbench surrounded by a scattering of strange hand tools, but that’s for a special project, a guitar he’s making for his musician son. Finished instruments lie around Siler’s shop, too—a delicate-looking maple dulcimer, a banjo built on plans from an old Appalachian instrument maker—but these days he makes mainly Native American-style wooden flutes from the lengths of exotic-looking lumber leaning against the walls—rosewood, ebony, purpleheart, padauk, koa, black walnut, curly maple. They’re a nice little sideline—musicians and collectors buy them for upwards of $100—but that’s not why he started making them. He started making them for the same wonderfully simple reason he first started making stringed instruments: because he wanted one. “I heard a guy play a flute like this,” he says, “and went, ‘Wow, that’s cool! I’d love to have one,’ so I built it.”


ear how it rings?” asks Dennis Siler, thumping a thin piece of spruce that will eventually become a guitar top. And, strangely, it does, with a clear, lingering resonance. “When I build a guitar,” Siler says, “I voice every piece of wood so it’s balanced. You just can’t do that in a factory.” Which is why the finest guitars are still handbuilt, pretty much as they have been for the last couple hundred years, in a painstaking, esoteric, weeks-long process that lies somewhere between craft and art. Siler learned it just out of high school as an apprentice to a Nashville luthier, then ran his own shop in Conway for a time before getting married and taking a job that yielded a steadier income. Now, he works in his garage in Van Buren and doesn’t often find the time to build guitars. An ebony fingerboard inlaid with an intricate mother of pearl design—cut freehand with a jeweler’s

“I voice every piece of wood ... you just can’t do that in a factory.”

workshop with a banjo made according to plans from an old Appalachian builder.



16r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/10/11 7:43 PM Page 16

Lions Lowdown


Lion Golfers Second in Conference Tourney KAT WILSON ’96

Junior Matt McKown shot a 3-over-par 219 in the three-round Heartland Conference Tournament, tying with teammate Patrick Willey for 6th among 35 golfers.

AFTER FINISHING NO HIGHER than fourth place in eight of the nine regular season tournaments, the men’s golf Lions rallied when it counted, claiming second place among seven teams in April’s Heartland Conference Tournament in Round Rock, Texas. Matt McKown, a junior from Van Buren, and Patrick Willey, a junior from Conway, each shot a 3-over-par 219, tying for sixth in the three-round tournament. The team shot a 17-over 881, finishing 11 strokes behind Newman University. The Lady Lions finished

the tournament in fourth. Consistent performances throughout the season for the Lions earned McKown and Willey each a spot on the Second Team AllHeartland Conference, while Josh Alford, from Marion, was named Heartland Conference Freshman of the Year. With McKown, Willey, and Alford all returning, plus women’s standouts Sidney Tallon and Jami Hendrix, the 2011-12 season looks promising—especially with UA Fort Smith scheduled to host the Heartland Tournament. —Jessica Martin ’10

Hello, Darling! FORMER SAINT LOUIS CARDINALS catcher Hal Smith, aka the Barling Darling, got a big welcome from UAFS cheerleaders, men’s and women’s basketball players, and, of course, Numa during Homecoming at the Stubblefield Center in February. The night before, Smith has been inducted into the UAFS Athletic Hall of Fame, along with men’s basketball star Darrell Walker, who went on to a long career in the NBA as both a player and head coach; Lady Lion Alisa Burris, who helped lead the team to its first national championship before joining the WNBA; the late C.A. Fawcett, a dedicated friend and fan who founded the college’s first booster club in 1974; and Jim Wyatt, who, alongside fellow Hall of Famer Gayle Kaundart, coached the men’s basketball Lions to the national tournament five times and later served as Westark athletic director for 16 years. It may seem strange for a Major League ballplayer (and coach and scout) like Smith to be greeted by the basketball teams. But in fact, the Barling Darling played guard for the Lions back in the late ’40s—when the school didn’t have a baseball team—leading the team in personal fouls during the 1947-48 season but also “developing a free-shot eye that more than once pulled the Lions from behind,” as the Numa yearbook put it.

The Good Kind of ‘T’




BELL TOWER spring/summer 2011

Technical fouls don’t tend to be happy occasions, but when refs called the inevitable T on the Lions after a deluge of stuffed animals covered their home court last December, Coach Josh Newman accepted it with a smile. Fans had been asked to bring stuffed animals to that night’s game against UA Monticello and throw them onto the court when the Lions first scored. A thousand toys were gathered for the Salvation Army Angel Tree. In keeping with the charitable spirit of the night, the Lions went on to give the Boll Weevils an 81-91 win. MORE ONLINE: Check out the video at www.uafortsmithalumni. com/belltower. —Jessica Martin ’10

17r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/10/11 7:43 PM Page 17

One for the Books

Spring Signings Add Defensive Depth, Paint Presence

Ashley Arnold ’11 makes history as first Lady Lion to play 4 years the first player ever to play four seasons for the Lady Lions, starting every game of her junior and senior seasons. Of the 120 total games she played, though, she saved the best for last, scoring a career-high 28 points, hitting 6 of 10 from outside the arc, and notching five rebounds, three assists, and seven steals in 39 minutes of playing time against Ecclesia College. The Lady Lions won 97-52. Perhaps most importantly, Arnold worked just as hard in the classroom as on the court, earning a Sally McSpadden Boreham Scholarship and a consistent place on the university’s All-Academic Team on the way to her bachelor’s degree in business adminGames istration. 120 —Jessica Points Martin ’10 714

Career Numbers

Assists 219 Rebounds 347 Steals 171

Senior guard Ashley Arnold led the Lady Lions in steals and three-pointers during her last season.


WHEN HER COACHES LEARNED before the start of last season that UA Fort Smith would have to remain a provisional member of NCAA Division II for a second year—making the university ineligible for postseason play—senior guard Ashley Arnold was given the option to red-shirt. That would have allowed her to return next season to play for a Heartland Conference championship, but Arnold chose instead to stick with her team this season as one of only two seniors, keeping the Lady Lions focused on establishing themselves as fierce contenders in the conference. And that’s exactly what they did, finishing the season at 20-5 overall and 11-1 in conference play. Even without a Heartland Conference championship, the 5’8” guard from Mountainburg leaves UA Fort Smith with an impressive record, having helped lead her team to a Bi-State Conference Championship, an NJCAA Region II Tournament Championship, and a third-place finish at the NJCAA National Tournament. Arnold also made UA Fort Smith history as

IT WAS A WATERSHED season for head coach Josh Newman’s Lions, who finished the year at 19-10, a dramatic improvement over last year’s 9-18 mark. That trend should continue next season with the spring signing of two impressive forwards and a mountainous center, Chase Hilton. “Chase will give us a presence that we honestly have not had in my five years,” says Coach Newman of the 6’11” Hilton, who averaged 19 points, 10 rebounds, and six blocks per game his senior year. “To put it bluntly, Chase is a huge young man.” The Lions also signed Chukwukere Ekeh, a 6’9” power forward from Little Rock who averaged nine points, seven rebounds, and three blocks last season for the Central Tigers, despite battling a hip injury. Ekeh has also been awarded a prestigious Chancellor’s Leadership Council Scholarship. Dusan Stojanovic, from Serbia, is the younger brother of current player Djordje Stojanovic. The younger Stojanovic, says Newman, “is a terrific passer, ball-handler, and driver for his size,” but it’s his athleticism and defensive skills that have the coaching staff most excited. The Lions open their home season November 16 against Southeastern Oklahoma.

Brainy Bunch ADRIANNA CARTER ’11

Handing out the annual All Academic Awards at the Stubblefield Center in February was a big job, as the university recognized 49 student-athletes maintaining a GPA of 3.0 or better. That’s nearly 40% of all UAFS athletes. Throw in the 36 cheerleaders, pom squad members, and athletic band musicians carrying a 3.0 or better, and you’re looking at a pretty brainy bunch. The single team with the highest average GPA? Women’s tennis.



18r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/10/11 7:42 PM Page 18


WALLS... Now a museum museum, the Drennen-Scott House in Van Buren tells the remarkable stories of frontier power-broker John Drennen, the generations that followed him, and the region itself.


BELL TOWER spring/summer 2011

19r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/10/11 7:42 PM Page 19

by Eric Francis

WHEN JOHN DRENNEN of Van Buren died in 1855, he could count among his successful ventures a shipping company, a railroad, retail stores, banking, real estate, finance, and being tapped as an Indian Agent by President Zachary Taylor. He had been a delegate to the Arkansas Constitutional Convention, a business partner of Sam Houston, a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives, a second to his friend Albert Pike in a famous duel, and had essentially founded the town of Van Buren, donating the land for the courthouse and square. Not bad for a guy who got his start selling firewood to steamboats. Drennen and his descendents— the Scotts and today’s Bullochs—make up one of frontier Arkansas’s most influential families. But unlike some of his contemporaries—Pike and Houston, for example—Drennen never rose to great public prominence during his life. His entrepreneurial ventures, though, helped set the economy of western Arkansas in motion during the 1800s, and his family’s home, the Drennen-Scott House, remains a wellpreserved reminder of just how potent Drennen’s business acumen was, there on the edge of Indian Territory.

Frontier Wealth “He was driven,” says Tom Wing, director of the Drennen-Scott House. “We often hear the word entrepreneur today, but John Drennen was a true ‘entrepreneur’ in the time in which he lived. He was a successful businessman, whose secret was diversity. His personality lent itself to risk, but a


Perched on a low bluff overlooking the Arkansas River, the DrennenScott House grew gradually from a one- or two-room “saltbox” built in 1836 into one of the most luxurious homes on the mid-19th century western frontier.



20r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/10/11 7:41 PM Page 20


Van Buren could expect. “It provided him and his family options,” Wing says. “By the 1850s, the family was living in extreme wealth for a frontier family. This was not ‘Little House on the Prairie.’” No, but it started out modestly enough, says Dr. Henry Rinne, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at UA Fort Smith. Drennen originally built a one- or tworoom “salt box” in 1836 on top of a hill overlooking the river. Then, as his fortunes and his family expanded, he added onto the original structure—a second bedroom and hallway in 1839, the parlor and an office on the east end of the house a year later, a third bedroom at the west end in 1845. What emerged wasn’t like the homes of plantation owners, with their columned entrances and grand staircases, John Drennen’s great-great-great-granddaughter Caroline Bercher and her but a true frontier house—long and low, with relatives still treasure the dozen solid silver julep cups that Drennen had made high ceilings, tall windows and a broad, from silver dollars he won betting on horses. deep porch. Yet within its modest facade were the appointments of wealth and controlled risk.” power: fine furniture, delicate light fixtures, wallpaper, huge mirrors, To wit: Drennen was reputed to be a gambler of some proficiency. grand fireplaces. And when Drennen’s daughter Caroline and son-inIn fact, the family still has 12 silver mint julep cups he made, and law Charles Scott inherited the house, they continued the practice of family lore says that each cup was made from 25 silver dollar coins— appointing it with the finest accoutrements. every last one of which he won at the horse races. For example, step into the parlor and look up. Around the top Outside of his gambling prowess, Drennen’s ability to make of the walls runs an elegant frieze depicting birds and flowering money on almost any venture he set his hand to resulted in wealth branches. But this is no simple mural painted by a talented local. and influence that outstripped what the typical resident of 1800s



The Drennen-Scott House is a treasure of history in part because John Drennen’s descendants got rid of very little during the more than


BELL TOWER spring/summer 2011

21r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/13/11 3:44 PM Page 21

By the time of his death at 48, through hard work and an entrepreneurial spirit, John Drennen had amassed an incredible fortune, equivalent to perhaps $25 million today.


little known in Arkansas history? Even Drennen’s own descendants knew little about him until the start of the restoration project. “The only thing I knew about John Drennen was that he was the founder of Van Buren, and I didn’t really believe that at the time,” says Caroline Bercher, his great-great-great-grandaughter. “In one regard, the family kept his life closely guarded,” says Wing. “Another is he died before his work was finished.” Drennen was 48 and returning from a trip to Pennsylvania when he fell ill with yellow fever and died in an Indiana hotel. His body was returned to Van Buren for burial, and Albert Pike wrote the epitaph that can still be read on his monument. In the years following Drennen’s death, the family was originally able to live well on the proceeds of his business interests. But first the Civil War and then the Great Depression took their tolls on those interests, and the family circled the wagons and did what they had to in order to survive. And one of the most important things they did during those lean years, said Wing, was to hold on not only to the house John Drennen had built but also to the original furnishings and decorations. In fact, they held onto them for five generations and more than 150 years—until 2005, when Mary Bulloch, who lived in the house at the time, passed away and left it to her children, Caroline Bercher, Scott Bulloch, and Drennen Bulloch, all great-great-great-grandchildren of

It was originally created by artist Mary E. Trivett of Cincinnati for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition—the Chicago World’s Fair— and hung in the Arkansas Pavilion where Fannie Scott, Caroline and Charles’s daughter, served as “Arkansas’s Daughter” and greeted guests. At the end of the World’s Fair, she had part of the frieze removed so she could take it home with her.

Historical Trove Wing says there are many such family stories—some, like the frieze, which have been authenticated, others that still lie in the gray area between fact and fancy—that make Drennen and his descendents one of the area’s most fascinating families. But why is it he remains so



150 years they inhabited it. In fact, the main parlor (above) appears virtually unchanged since 1895.



22r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/10/11 7:39 PM Page 22

Not Just a Museum, a Classroom Too communicators, capable of both informing and entertaining the public. One of the best is Drennen-


Archeology classes (above) search for artifacts on the property, while students in the Historical Interpretation program, directed by Tom Wing (right), lead tours and prepare exhibits. The Drennen-Scott Historic Site isn’t just a museum; it’s also part of the UA Fort Smith campus. As part of the renovation, a fully equipped classroom was added, as well as a student workspace for preparing exhibits and conserving objects and documents.

Most of the students at the site are history majors in UA Fort Smith’s unique Historical Interpretation Concentration. Interpreters, says Dr. Henry Rinne, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, must not only be trained historians but also gifted


BELL TOWER spring/summer 2011


John Drennen. Grants from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council (and partnerships with the Arkansas Department of Heritage and the City of Van Buren) allowed UA Fort Smith to purchase the house and the 26-acre property, and also to carry on, in effect, the nearly 17 decades of work the family had done to preserve its own history and the history of its community and nation. “By UA Fort Smith stepping up and getting the grants,” says Wing, “the house, the property, and the collections inside are going to be able to stay together, essentially forever.” Priceless as family heirlooms, the home’s contents also represent a phenomenal historical trove for the university and the public. That legacy includes letters, the family silver, the 1848 Bible (up to date with every birth and death), and the cradle that John Drennen’s children and grandchildren were all rocked to sleep in. Because the family never moved—except for a few years during and after the Civil War, when they relocated to Little Rock—the furnishings and other contents were never packed in wagons or trucks,

Scott Site Director Tom Wing, who conducted tours and educational programs at the Fort Smith National Historic Site before joining UA Fort Smith’s faculty in 2004. Wing works closely at the site with students and interns, who practice their skills orienting visitors, leading guided tours, and staging “living history” presentations. Archeology students also work at the site, conducting a dig in the backyard area, where they sift through the rocky soil for artifacts from the old servants’ quarters and carriage house that once stood there.

As valuable as the home’s historic furnishings are, many of its other contents are at least as important for the stories they tell about the life and times of family that owned them— and the place they lived.

23r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/10/11 7:39 PM Page 23

Goat Hair and Other Architectural Details never hauled up staircases or around corners, never crammed into moving boxes. That explains in part why they remain in such good condition. But it wasn’t just that the family never moved furnishings and decorations from one house to another; they hardly even moved them around inside their own house. If you step into the parlor of the Drennen-Scott house and hold up a photo of it from the late 1800s, you’ll see the same fine furnishings, the same elaborate mirrors, the same 1878 Steinway square grand piano—all in virtually the same spots they occupied back then.

Exceptional Family



So, what can these furnishings—which were acquired by the Arkansas Department of Heritage at the same time UA Fort Smith purchased the house and land—tell us about the family that lived there? Plenty, says Jennifer Carman, a certified appraiser and president of J. Carman Inc. Fine & Decorative Art, who was retained by the family in 2005 to catalog the full collection. For starters, she says, they are all “impressive, representative examples of their craft”— pieces like a circa 1760 longcase clock that Carman says “would be at home in any exhibition highlighting the works of English clockmakers.” The items acquired over the years reveal a lot to Carman about the family: “Their style and adventure, their activities, their taste in literature and apparent love of family dining and entertaining, and their love of service to this state and nation.” They also show the family was accustomed to very fine furnishings, exhibiting sophisticated tastes and an awareness of what was the latest style both on the Continent and in major American cities. But, says Carman, “What makes this collection so extraordinary is that within the walls of the Drennen-Scott property these items take on a new life, as storytellers conveying the lives and times of this exceptional Arkansas family.” It’s a role that Drennen’s descendants are pleased to see their family possessions play. “I hope a visitor will see that Van Buren and our family played an integral part of Arkansas history in the infancy of Arkansas statehood,” says Drennen Bulloch. “I hope [visitors] realize,” says Caroline Bercher, “just what a special place it is and what treasures are there in the house and that the house itself is a treasure, too.” Now, after a six-year, $5.5 million acquisition and renovation project by UA Fort Smith, the Drennen-Scott House is once again ready to become one of the premier homes on the state’s western frontier. The university held a dedication for the house May 10 with the descendents of John Drennen in attendance to toast the success of the restoration—using, appropriately, John Drennen’s own silver mint julep cups. The Drennen-Scott Historic Site is open for visitors on Thursdays and Fridays from 1 to 5 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. It’s located at 221 N. Third St., near downtown Van Buren. Admission is free.

or six years now, UA Fort Smith has led a remarkable effort, funded by more than $5 million in grant money, to renovate the Drennen-Scott house, working to strengthen and secure the structure while simultaneously preserving its historic character and details. In restoring the old lath-and-plaster interior walls, for instance, an artisan actually mixed real goat hair into the plaster for reinforment, just as it was done originally. And although the roof had to be reinfored, the old unskinned logs cut to support it back in 1836 are still in place and visible through portals in the walls. The original roughhewn timbers beneath the floor can likewise be seen through a trap door. An opening in the wall of another room shows layer upon layer of material—the wood lap exterior of the original house that was left in place when the room was built on, rough boards covered in patterned cloth “wallpaper,” and then a lath-and-plaster surface added later.

During the restoration process, contractors and craftsmen preserved as much of the historic structure as they could, only adding reinforcement to maintain the building’s structural integrity.



24r1_UAFS_SPSU11:feature2 6/10/11 6:31 PM Page 24

25r1_UAFS_SPSU11:feature2 6/10/11 6:31 PM Page 25

After a truck accident left the former Westark pitcher numb from the chest down, his love of woods and waters helped pull him through. Today, he spends his time teaching others with mobility impairments to enjoy the outdoors, and more often than not,


HAS A SMILE ON HIS FACE HE KNEW IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. There just wasn’t enough room between the edge of the rural Texas road and the fracturing truck barreling around the corner toward him. The heavy oil truck traffic had pushed a berm of gravel up on the outside of the curve, and it grabbed his right front tire, just as he’d known it would. Only a few seconds elapsed between that moment and the moment the UPS truck he was driving came to rest in the watermelon field beside the road, but those seconds changed his life. Rance Bighorse ’84 had been a star athlete, a pitcher for Westark Community College and then Pan American University, and only days before his accident, he had been pitching for the Reynosa Broncos in the Mexican League. Those days were over in a heartbeat. Ten weeks later, the 26-year-old Bighorse was in Craig Hospital in Denver, fighting—with the help of his therapists—to pull himself upright in bed. The accident had left him with no use of his body below his chest. Everything below his fifth thoracic vertebra was numb. But that didn’t mean he didn’t feel any pain. He had plenty. Every inch he raised himself brought a fresh wave of it. He repeated the mantra instilled in him by his coach at Pan American, Al Ogletree: “You get out of it what you put into it.” He gritted his teeth and recited it again in his mind. “You get out of it what you put into it.” Through the tears in his eyes and the ringing in his ears, he could see and hear his wife, Linda, and the therapists cheering him on as he got closer to a sitting position. Finally, he was upright. And then he passed out.

by T Y S T O C K T O N


Nothing But Time In the days and weeks to come, Bighorse kept repeating that mantra. He was an athlete—an athlete with a spinal injury, but an athlete nonetheless. He knew results didn’t come without a lot of hard work. And it didn’t take him long to figure out what he wanted to get out of it. While he was working with the recreational therapy department at



26r1_UAFS_SPSU11:feature2 6/10/11 6:32 PM Page 26

injury on anyone,” he says, “but it’s opened doors that never would have been opened if I hadn’t been hurt.”

In Sickness and in Health

‘A Smile on My Face’

As he was teaching himself new ways to enjoy the activities he used to love, Bighorse moved back to Oklahoma, near his hometown. When he got there, he rekindled his friendship with his old friend Greg Wilson, whose father, Bill, was CEO of Fort Smith’s Pradco fishing lure company. At the time, Pradco was a major sponsor of the Paralyzed Veterans of America Pro Bass Trail. “Greg told me Pradco’d provide everything I’d need for the Bass Trail,” Bighorse says. “My first tournament was in Oklahoma. It was absolutely the

One of those doors opened on Michael “Shorty” Powers, the founder of Turning Point, a national organization whose mission, in part, is “to develop self-esteem and confidence in the physically challenged population through participation in adapted outdoor adventures.” Powers, who lost the use of his legs at 17, believes there is great healing power in nature—a belief Bighorse, by then, felt just as strongly. Powers asked Bighorse to join Team Challenge, his competitive fishing team, and soon the two men


N ’9 6

Rance and Linda Johnson Bighorse ’84 (on the Arkansas river in 2011, top, and in Edinburg, Texas, in 1985, bottom) met at Westark and have remained a truly formidable team ever since.

best learning weekend I’ve ever had.” That weekend in 1996 wasn’t free of anxiety, however. Bighorse watched other anglers moving themselves around in their boats, and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to do what they could do. It was tempting to take the easy route, to give up and go home before he’d even started, but his wife, Linda, talked him into giving it a try. It turns out Rance wasn’t the only one in the family who couldn’t stand the thought of giving up. Linda and Rance both knew the statistics: When a spouse is paralyzed, the divorce rate is 95 percent. But divorce never crossed Linda’s mind. She took her vows seriously—especially the part about “in sickness and in health.” Linda knows when she needs to push Rance, and she gives him exactly the right amount of encouragement. She gave him the nudge he needed that weekend on the Pro Bass Trail, and it kicked off a series of bigger and better opportunities. For the next several years, the pair traveled with the Bass Trail, and, as Pradco bought up a number of hunting equipment companies, Rance also became a pro staff member of companies like Knight & Hale game calls. As his notoriety grew, so did his opportunities. “I’d never wish a spinal

Craig, he thought back to the time before his world was turned upside-down. He recalled the times in his life when he’d been happiest—strapping a shotgun or a fishing rod to his motorcycle and going hunting or fishing with a childhood friend. As he grew up— went to college, got married, got a job—he had often wished he’d had more time for hunting and fishing. Now, he realized, he had nothing but time. Back at home, he bought a semi-automatic 20-gauge shotgun and a manual skeet thrower—a spring-powered contraption to sling small, Frisbee-shaped clay targets into the air—and started teaching himself to shoot again. In his chair, holding himself up with his left hand while his gun rested across his lap, he yanked the cord on the thrower. Then, with the target already whistling away from him, he grabbed his shotgun, swung it to his shoulder, and fired—all with only his right hand while still bracing himself with his left. “I don’t have the muscles in my stomach and back to let me sit up straight without support,” he says, “so I have to use one hand to hold myself up and the other to shoot.” He fell sometimes. It wasn’t easy to cock the thrower, and once in a while, he’d tip out of the chair and onto the ground. Or he’d overbalance while he was swinging up to shoot at a target, and he’d topple out onto the ground. And then he’d get up. It was a legacy from his baseball days—quitters never win, and winners never quit.

“I’d never wish a spinal injury

on anyone, but it’s opened doors that never would have been opened if I hadn’t been hurt.

Bighorse, conferring on the mound with catcher Mike Theige ’83, pitched two seasons for Westark and two more for Pan American University in south Texas. Later, he played minor league pro ball in Mexico for the Reynosa Broncos.


BELL TOWER spring/summer 2011

27r1_UAFS_SPSU11:feature2 6/10/11 6:32 PM Page 27


An avid hunter, Bighorse pursues not only deer but also wild turkeys, doves, and other gamebirds. In 2008, a friend, Brian Beauchamp, photographed him at sunrise during a turkey hunt near Miami, Oklahoma.

were working together both on the water and off. After 10 years helping with Turning Point, in 2001, Bighorse decided to start his own chapter in Oklahoma. He named it Turning Point Indian Nation and focused on Native Americans who found themselves in situations like his. “When they get hurt, they draw inside themselves,” Bighorse says. “I wanted to show them they can still do a lot of the things they used to do—they just have to do them a little differently.” So Bighorse, over the years, has taken them fishing, water skiing, skeet shooting, kayaking, and camping. His organization also has a hunting lease, and last season, seven of the eight people he took to the lease got a deer. But the activities themselves are only a means to an end: being around others who share an experience that just can’t be fully understood by those who haven’t been there themselves, no matter how hard they try. On a fishing trip with one young man, Bighorse taught him not only how to catch more bass, but how to break down his wheelchair and put it into the cab of his truck himself, instead of depending on someone else to help in and out. “He goes everywhere now,” Bighorse says. “There’s no keeping him home. Every day of deer season, he was out hunting somewhere. Those are the things that really put a smile on my face.”

‘Until You Don’t Fail Anymore’ “So many people and so many good companies have given to me, and I felt it was time to give back,” Bighorse says of his desire to help people—both able-bodied and injured—find ways to succeed at whatever they want to do. He and Linda took over the local baseball field a few years ago, and they’ve devoted a good deal of their time to helping local kids get a chance to play baseball. “There are times I still get mad, mad,” Bighorse says. “I don’t necessarily see it as a bad thing. I can still get motivated by it. I still play catch. It gets a little frustrating—people want me to work with their kids, but I can’t show them. I have to explain it, or I find someone who looks like he knows what he’s doing, and I get that kid to do it while I tell him how.” But his old baseball coach’s words still ring true, no matter the circumstances. You get out of it what you put into it. “You can’t do anything without hard work,” he says. “That goes hand-in-hand with this kind of injury. I learned to shoot again, made myself strong, and I was never afraid to practice, sweat, fail. Just keep trying until you don’t fail anymore.”

Leading by example, Bighorse teaches Turning Point members that with a little adaptation, they can enjoy plenty of outdoor activities—not just hunting and fishing, but also watersports, camping, and more.



28r1_UAFS_SPSU11:alum news 6/10/11 6:46 PM Page 28


Let’s Grow Together n May, I had the honor of welcoming more than 650 new graduates into our alumni family. Among them was 72-yearold Maureen Didion, finally earning her bachelor’s 55 years after taking her first college class. And Joshua Bull of the 188th Fighter Wing, who hopes his degree will help him become an officer. And Dana Broad, who will use her double major and campus leadership experience as an accountant with Ernst & Young. And Clint Johnson, a Chancellor’s Leadership Council scholar, who enters seminary this fall. That same kind of diversity is represented in our Alumni Association. Every day I meet alumni who are scholars, military leaders, faith leaders, and lifelong learners. As different as they are, they all share the same story: they were influenced by special professors, they forged lasting friendships (or maybe even met their spouse), and they left here with a solid, practical education. Whether you attended FSJC, Westark, or UA Fort Smith, chances are you share it too. That common experience is part of what makes alumni travel so much fun, and we’ve recently forged partnerships that allow us to bring you some very exciting opportunities. We’ll also be offering great new insurance discounts through the Association. A new website is just around the corner, too. We hope you’ll get to try out the online registration function when you sign up for our 2nd Annual Alumni Weekend, October 14–15. Stay tuned to Finally, please take a moment to let us know how we can make the Association better. You don’t have to wait for an event or magazine to share your ideas. You can reach me anytime at (479) 788-7026 or Let’s use all this new technology—or the old phone call—to grow together!


ELIZABETH S. UNDERWOOD Director of Alumni Affairs


BELL TOWER spring/summer 2011



Let us—and the people you went to school with—know what you’ve been up to! Please take five minutes to sit down and tell us what you’ve been doing 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 other alumni. We love to get photos too, and we’ll happily run them in this section. 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 Alumni Office, UA Fort Smith, P.O. Box 3649, Fort

Smith, AR 72913.



James Riddle ’70 retired in 2007 after more than 35 years with KFSM-TV, a job he landed with the help of a classmate, Taylor Joyce, who at the time was an anchor at the station. His wife passed away in 2004 after the two had been married just five years. It was Riddle’s first marriage. He now lives in Clarksville.

Karen Bettis Abernathy ’80, holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education and lives in Broken Arrow, Okla., where she co-owns a landscaping business with her husband, Steve, and serves as road manager for Rockin’ Acoustic Circus, the band for which her youngest son plays mandolin. One of Abernathy’s two daughters plans to transfer in the fall to UAFS.

Monica Heinrichs Vaughan ’75 holds a bachelor’s in voice performance from the University of Houston, a master’s in voice from Rice, and a law degree from Houston. She has performed with the Houston Grand Opera, practiced law, taught music, and advocated for students with disabilities. She has two sons—an attorney and a musician. Rev. Doug Beasley ’79 was recently chosen by the national office of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity to serve as Ritual and Spiritual Advisor to the UAFS chapter. He was a member in the ’70s at UCA after transferring there to finish his bachelor’s in music education.

Tom Jarmon ’83 works full-time as a nurse in a local hospital. Lori Loum Patten ’88 lives in Tulsa, where she has worked as a registered nurse in the ER, cath lab, recover room, surgery, and quality department, as well as teaching advanced cardiac life support.

1990s Heath Roach ’98 is working on his master’s degree at Liberty University. He lives with his wife, Mollie Weaver ’99, and their three sons in Sapulpa, Okla.

29r1_UAFS_SPSU11:alum news 6/10/11 6:46 PM Page 29

Experience Island Life in Ancient Greece and Turkey WWW.UAFORTSMITHALUMNI.COM

2000s Tammy Thiele ’05 teaches music at City Heights and King elementary schools in Van Buren, gives piano lessons “on the side,” and participates in Fort Smith Chorale.

Jenna Rainwater Pierce ’07 and Michael Pierce ’05 welcomed a baby boy, Sawyer Lee, on Sept. 21, 2010. He weighed 7 lbs., 9 oz. and was 20 3/4 in. long. Alison Potts ’08 started working toward her managerial MBA at the University of Arkansas in 2010. She also serves on the graduate student advisory board.

Brook Lang ’05 married Aaron Borengasser Feb. 19, 2011, in Fort Smith.

Breanne Brake Gustin ’08 and Ben Gustin welcomed Leah Mae, a baby girl, on Jan. 23, 2011, in Oklahoma City. She weighed 7 lbs., 4 oz. Cara Bird Morland ’06 and Daniel Morland ’06 welcomed Remington Eli on Oct. 21, 2010. He weighed 6 lbs., 13 oz. and was 19 1/2 in. long.

Amy Carter ’09 and Brock Wilson ’10 were married Dec. 18, 2010, in Poteau, Okla.

Katie Schluterman ’07, UAFS Student and Young Alumni Coordinator, married A.J. Kratzberg Feb. 19, 2011, in Fort Smith.

2010s Chris Bader ’10 works in U.S. Congressman Steve Womack’s district office in Fort Smith.

An exclusive travel experience for alumni and friends of UA Fort Smith, Westark, and Fort Smith Junior College.

September 19 - 27, 2011 Cruise aboard a deluxe, exclusively chartered, state-of-the-art vessel from the mythical relics of Athens, Delos and Troy, across the glistening waters of the Aegean, to the bustling bazaars and sparkling mosques of Istanbul. Visit Greece’s history-rich islands—Pátmos, Rhodes, Delos and Santorini. Along Turkey’s enchanting coast, stroll the marble-paved boulevards of Greco-Roman Ephesus and visit the site of fabled Troy. Extend your journey with a Pre-Cruise Option in Athens and a Post-Cruise Option in Istanbul or Cappadocia. t

Cruise for seven nights, from Athens, Greece, to Istanbul, Turkey, with calls at Delos, Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes and Pátmos, Greece; and Kusadasi (Ephesus) and Çanakkale (Troy), Turkey. ¸


Relax in spacious and elegant outside accommodations with private bathroom and individual climate control.


Enjoy international and regional cuisine served daily with complimentary wine and beer during lunch and dinner.


Explore four UNESCO World Heritage sites—the House of Dolphins on Delos, the Old Town on Rhodes, the Cave of the Apocalypse on Pátmos, where St. John wrote the Book of Revelations, and the remarkably preserved Greco-Roman city of Ephesus.


Learn about local language, culture, history, literature, and mythology from faculty, local residents, expert English-speaking guides.

For more information, contact Elizabeth Underwood at the UA Fort Smith Alumni Association toll free at (800) 532-9094,,

University of Arkansas - Fort Smith UA Fort Smith BELL TOWER Alumni Association


30r1_UAFS_SPSU11:alum news 6/10/11 6:47 PM Page 30



‘Tremendously Beneficial’


As an accounting student in the late ’90s, Rebecca Hurst ’01 (UC) was pulling double-duty, working at the same time she was attending school, and the University Center at Westark College allowed the flexible scheduling she needed. “Which was great for me,” she says. “It was just a really nice, open campus. It was very easy to acclimate to, and it was a good foundation to start things off.” One instructor who helped lay that foundation was David Craig. “I took him for statistics and economics,” Hurst says, “and I feel like he brought a real-world approach to class and teaching.” Hurst also got valuable experience from Frances Ralston’s tax courses, which required a surprising amount of writing. It frustrated many students, but in the long run, learning to write from a tax law perspective, says Hurst, “really proved to be something that has been tremendously beneficial to me.” After graduating magna cum laude from Westark’s University Center in 2001 (her degree was officially from Arkansas Tech) and from the law school at the University of Arkansas in 2005, Hurst headed to New York University, where in 2006 she earned a Master of Laws in Taxation. NYU’s is widely considered to be one of the top programs of its kind in the country. Back in Arkansas, Hurst was hired as an associate at Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP in Fayetteville, where she practices estate and tax planning. She is also an adjunct professor at the UA School of Law and last year was named to the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list. —Robert Bell

A noon barbecue at the Bell Tower was one of the highlights of last year’s Alumni Weekend. This year the party will move to the Lion’s Den for a Homecoming tailgate.

Start Planning Now for Alumni Weekend 2011!

Rebecca Hurst ’01 (UC) at the Friday, Eldredge & Clark Offices in Fayetteville, April 2011.



BELL TOWER spring/summer 2011

Want to be sure you find the people you knew on campus when you come to UA Fort Smith’s 2nd Annual Alumni Weekend, Oct. 14-15? Sign up for a Reunion Group Social, where groups like former athletes, Cub Camp staff, Chancellor’s Leadership Council members, Phi Beta Lambda members, education majors, the Class of 1956, and so on can catch up over hors d’oeuvres and refreshments before dinner Friday. The other big Alumni Weekend news is that UA Fort Smith’s spring Homecoming has been rescheduled for fall, so the biggest student celebration of the year will coincide with the biggest alumni celebration of the year. Think tailgating, pep rallies, a bonfire, a wagon parade, and all kinds of games and fun. Oh, and it’s cheaper this year, too—just $45 for Friday dinner,

Saturday lunch and dinner, a wine and cheese reception, a concert, a play, talks from distinguished faculty, tickets to the Homecoming volleyball game, and, of course, a super awesome T-shirt. Watch the mail for your invitation coming soon, and remember that Alumni Weekend is for all alumni and friends of UA Fort Smith, Westark, and FSJC. If you don’t receive an invitation for some reason but you’d like to join us, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Give us a call too (or send us an email) if you’d like to help recruit alumni for one of the Reunion Groups—or if you’d like to suggest another group. We always need Alumni Ambassadors to help us get the word out. Contact Alumni Director Elizabeth Underwood at (800)532-9094 or

31r1_UAFS_SPSU11:alum news 6/10/11 6:47 PM Page 31


On the Road (Again) For the second year in a row, the alumni staff hit the road in early spring to host Regional Receptions, this time at the Gilcrease Museum of the Americas in Tulsa, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Markham Gallery at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville. We didn’t want our local alumni to feel left out, though, so we took a busload of them with us to Tulsa, where they, along with Tulsa-area alumni, toured the museum with UA Fort Smith art chair Don Lee (at right, talking with Jo ’76 and Doug Carson ’83, and adjunct art instructor Alana ZACK THOMAS

Embry) before sitting down to dinner with the Chancellor and First Lady. MORE ONLINE: See all the Regional Reception photos at


On the Same Team Rennetta Ealy Carter ’87 has a sweet, lively laugh, and you hear it often when she talks about things she loves. Her husband, Terrence, for example. In 1985 she was still Rennetta Ealy, newly arrived at Westark Community College. It was a Sunday, move-in day, and she and other members of the women’s basketball team were getting settled in the little house they would share across from the old gymnasium. Another new student, a fellow named Terrence Carter who also played basketball for the Lions, happened to be there that day. “Oh, yeah, he was good looking,” she recalls


Rennetta Carter ’87 with husband Terrence ’87 at Ouachita Baptist University, May 2001, and on the court in 1985, listening to first-year coach Louis Whorton.

of her first impression, with a quick flurry of laughter. “Nice. He was nice.” And almost before you can say “hoop dreams,” she and that nice, good-looking young man were a couple. “Probably in two months,” she says with a laugh as bright as silver. “It didn’t take long.” It helped they shared a lot in common, like small-town roots. He grew up and went to school in Sparkman; she was from Damascus and attended Guy-Perkins. Their fathers were both deacons and Sunday school leaders in their churches. Rennetta said it didn’t take long before she and Terrence realized they would get married. “Maybe I’m not saying from day one,” she said, “but after a while.” That marriage is now approaching its 23rd anniversary, and the Carters look back at their time at Westark as the foundation of their lifelong love. Today they live in Arkadelphia. Rennetta is a market assistant for Walmart, working with 15 stores in southern Arkansas, and Terrence is the director of the Upward Bound program at Ouachita Baptist University. Rennetta is also enrolled at OBU, pursuing the bachelor’s degree she didn’t finish after graduating from Westark. So while they were courting, did these two ever take to the basketball court to see who was the better player? “Ha! Good question, that’s funny,” she says, laughing heartily. “I would say he is.” And she laughs again—the kind of laugh that says it doesn’t really matter who’s better, because they’re both on the same team. —Eric Francis



32r1_UAFS_SPSU11:alum news 6/10/11 6:48 PM Page 32



What a Year! After just over a year of existence, UA Fort Smith’s Student Alumni Association—which works to increase student awareness of the Alumni Association while infusing ideas of tradition, leadership, and volunteerism—is among the strongest groups on campus. In this spring’s NUMAS—an evening awards program recognizing excellence in student organizations—the SAA was first runner up for Student Organization of the Year, and advisor Katie Schluterman

May 2011.

Erstwhile Archeologist As most recent graduates can tell you, finding a job is all about supply and demand, and back in 1980, the supply of archeologists exceeded demand. That’s what led Steve Lovick ’83, IT director at Rheem Manufacturing, to change his career course radically, with a degree from what was then Westark Community College. Lovick had earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in anthropology, focusing on archeology. He’d been published in academic journals, was recognized in his field, and had accepted a scholarship to the doctoral program at Southern Methodist University. “The problem was, most of the academic positions in colleges and universities were taken by the older generation, and there was really a shortage of jobs for archeologists,” Lovick says. He felt a bit discouraged about his prospects, but had always enjoyed working with computers, crunching archeological statistics using the nascent personal computers of the day. The Iowa native had married a woman from Fort Smith, and when he was visiting, he decided to head up the hill to the University of Arkansas to check out its programming course. Lovick found it to be “more of a theoretical program. In other words, after you would go there, you would come out and you wouldn’t really know how to program, but you’d know all of the engineering stuff behind it.” He wanted something a bit more practical. “So I went out to Westark,” he says, “and they had a superb program, with excellent instructors.” He enrolled, and about 18 months later he had earned another degree. He even taught several computer courses at Westark for three years after graduating, before taking a job with Rheem and working his way up to the top IT position. So how has life in Fort Smith been over the last 20 years? “It’s been good to me,” Lovick says, “and Rheem has been excellent and the degree I got from Westark has paid off in spades.” —Robert Bell


BELL TOWER spring/summer 2011


Steve Lovick ’83 at Rheem Manufacturing,

Kratzberg ’07 was named Advisor of the Year. The association was also recently named Group of the Week by the National Center for Student Leadership. The SAA, which is led by an eight-member board and is open to all students, hosted a remarkable 28 events in its first year, including Grad Bash, Finals Feeding Frenzy, Numa’s Birthday Bash, Senior Day at the Bay, and more. The association also published the 87-page Traditions Book, chronicling campus traditions and promoting school spirit. MORE ONLINE: See the TBook at fort_smith.

C3r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/10/11 7:38 PM Page C3



THANK YOU, RAY— When Ray Baker passed

away March 4, he left Fort Smith indelibly changed for the better. For 46 years as a public school teacher he had educated, inspired, and entertained perhaps 10,000 of our children. And for two decades as mayor he had served as an unwavering booster and perpetually enthusiastic ambassador for the place he loved. Along the way, he often lent his buoyant presence to events at UA Fort Smith, scattering his rose petals for everything from academic conferences to athletic celebrations to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life (photo) in 2009. Baker was an alumnus, too. Not surprisingly, in 1959, as a second-year Languages and Communication major, he served as student body president and was voted “Outstanding Man of Campus” by his fellow students. Of course, he was also involved in seemingly everything else on campus, serving as Red Cross president, Student National Education Association president, Drama Club treasurer, Future Teachers of America vice president, and ad salesman for the yearbook—just for starters. In naming him to the FSJC student Hall of Fame, the editors of the 1958 Numa wrote, “an untiring worker … Ray has truly earned his place in the Hall of Fame.” Indeed he has.



C4r1_UAFS_SPSU11:04r1_UAFS_SPSU11 6/10/11 7:39 PM Page C4

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



A Look Back

The particular exuberant sparkle that would stick with him throughout his lifetime as an educator and a public leader was already clearly visible in Ray Baker’s eyes in 1959, when he and Sarah Myers were named “Outstanding Man & Woman of Campus” and appeared in a full-page photo in the Numa yearbook.

Bell Tower, Spring 2011  

Spring/Summer 2011 issue of Bell Tower magazine

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you