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SU MME R 2013

Bell Tower The Alumni Magazine of the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith


Heroes The Woodruff family turns tragedy and loss

into possibility and hope

5 Library Reopens / 16 Tari Cummings ’99 / 18 Nursing Expansion / 28 Class Notes

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Among the more than 80 registered student organizations on the UAFS campus—ranging from academic honor societies to cultural clubs to religious and political organizations— is the UAFS Slacklining Club, which favors sunny spring and fall afternoons for its “meetings” under the oaks on the campus green, where members like junior nursing major Liz Ellenbarger (left) and senior biochemistry major Jennifer Harvey balance improbably on a length of stretchy nylon climber’s webbing tensioned between two trunks.


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by Kat Wilson ’96

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volume 4, number 1


FROM THE CHANCELLOR A change in role and scope


GRAND + WALDRON successful campaign | winning screenplay | library reopens | Nüshu script | Linda Williams Palmer exhibit | guitar class | Project Dream | WATC | Underground Ink


SNAPSHOT STEM Posters at the Capitol


5Q Lacey Neissl-Clark ’08, justice of the peace




KNOWLEDGE BASE Crystal Bridges Museum


EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITY Mandy Osburn ’95, accountant / musician


LIONS LOWDOWN Tari Cummings ’99 | LionOnTheLoose | community champions | Post-season wrap | new floor


features 18

ADVANCING BY DEGREES In the face of national demand for a better-prepared nursing workforce and improved patient outcomes, UAFS grows its BSN program. by Kelly Brooks


87 DAYS Miller McNeil Woodruff was only with his family for a brief time, but his legacy lives on as his parents turn tragedy into possibility and loss into hope. by Sally Flecker


ALUMNI + FRIENDS farewell to Zack | class notes | in memoriam | Through Diligence to Victory | call for nominations | Laurence Luckinbill ’52 | Once Upon a Homecoming | new email | Justin Huss ’08


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From the Chancellor

Bell Tower

Summer 2013 Volume 4, Number 1

A Change in Role and Scope

The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith


The process begins to offer master’s degree programs

Paul B. Beran, Ph.D.


Marta M. Loyd, Ed.D.

CONTRIBUTORS Kelly Brooks, Evin Demirel, Sally Flecker, Wanda Freeman, Jaime Hebert, Jessica Martin, Liz Snyder, Ty Stockton, Zack Thomas

PHOTOGRAPHERS Cory S. Krasko, Zack Thomas, Kat Wilson




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University of Arkansas


Smith Alumni

Association, P.O. Box 3649, Fort Smith, AR 72913, Tel:





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

With Lion Pride,

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

Contents ©2013 by the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith.

PAUL B. BERAN, Ph.D. Chancellor

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

BELL TOWER summer 2013

BELL TOWER is published semi-annually by the

for alumni, friends, and faculty of the University.

chancellor, said UAFS developed a compelling case for the change. He and his academic team designed a very solid first degree program in Healthcare Administration. The degree will be completely online and will be open to those holding undergraduate degrees in the healthcare or business fields. From my perspective as chancellor, this change will expand the university with the same dramatic effect as the change from Westark to UAFS. I hope all of you are proudly hearing our lion Numa roaring!

Find Us on the Web!


Dr. Paul B. Beran, Chancellor; Dr. Ray Wallace, Provost; Dr. Marta M. Loyd, Vice Chancellor for University Advancement; Mark Horn, Vice Chancellor for University Relations; Jeff Harmon, Director of University Marketing & Communications


t pleases me to write this letter to highlight one of the most significant milestones to occur for the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith since I became chancellor seven years ago. First, I applaud the leadership of Dr. Donald Bobbitt, president of the University of Arkansas System, and the system Board of Trustees for approving at its last meeting the opportunity for UAFS to make an application for a role and scope change. Successful completion of the approval process will allow UAFS to offer master’s degree programs, beginning with a Master of Science in Healthcare Administration. The role and scope change is very exciting for UAFS and the greater Fort Smith region. The ability to grant master’s degrees, along with a new library to support them, shows we are meeting the needs of our region’s citizens. Throughout the process, we received vast community support from the region’s healthcare, business, and donor professionals, many of whom are alumni. The new role and scope for UAFS fits with the University’s vision, connecting education with careers. In our Five-Year Strategic Plan, we said we planned to explore the feasibility of graduate programs to be implemented based on the region’s economic demands. The approval of this master’s degree program will serve as a forward step in this direction. The new degree also fits with the UAFS mission, preparing students to succeed in an ever-changing global world while advancing economic development and quality of place. The role and scope change will be vetted by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education before going to the Higher Learning Commission, a process that will take approximately two years. Dr. Ray Wallace, provost and senior vice


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Remembering the past,

building the future. Celebrate your induction into the ranks of UAFS alumni by adding your name to UAFS history! Solidify your lifelong connection to the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith with a brick in Lion Pride Square on the Donald W. Reynolds Campus Green. Your gift is tax deductible and will serve as a lasting tribute to your time as a Lion! Price for recent graduates is $125 within 12 months of graduation date. • (479) 788-7920 03_UAFS_SU13.indd 3

7/22/13 8:25 PM



Campaign Tops Ambitious Goal THE UAFS FOUNDATION’S $50 million Giving Opportunity campaign came to an official close Dec. 31, not only reaching its goal, but actually exceeding it by 14 percent, raising a total of $56,895,040 for the university. A focused and sustained fundraising effort that weathered not only the death of Chancellor Joel Stubblefield in 2005 but also the economic downturn of 2008-2009, the campaign began in 2004 with an incredible $5 million “lead gift” from Mrs. Donnie Pendergraft. The so-called “silent phase,” during which leaders worked quietly to get what amounted to a good headstart on the campaign, raised $31 million and lasted until March 2009, when the campaign was publicly announced. Under the direction of Marta Loyd, Ed.D., vice chancellor for university advancement and executive director of the

“This isn’t a man’s world; it’s a professional’s world, and it’s a world of teams.”

—Chemical engineer Maggie Kelly ’02, who spent two years at UAFS in what was then called the pre-engineering program before going on to earn a bachelor’s degree (and who does just fine, thank you, in her traditionally male field).


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THE EMAIL HIT Bryce Albertson’s inbox on June 15, 2012. His screenplay was an official selection in the Las Vegas International Film Festival. He called all his friends —at 6 a.m. on a Saturday. Only after he set down the phone did Albertson ’12 wonder what “official selection” meant. He read the whole email this time. He’d won first place. Don’t try to pin him down for a plot summary of Paper Empires, which he wrote for a class at UAFS. He’ll only say it’s about two kids trying to escape the realities of their lives— an abused girl and a young boy unable to save his drowning brother. The festival was a blur of bands and beverages. On stage, Albertson recalled the day his teacher called him an idiot in front of his eleventh grade class. He held the crystal award and smirked. The crowd roared. Now he’s working with Dark Highway Pictures, rewriting the script to make it more “Hollywood-friendly.” Albertson is a teacher himself—ninth-grade English in crimeridden Pine Bluff, Ark. It’s not easy. “I have a student that was raped,” he says, “students that are in gangs.” They don’t give a rip about sonnets. He turned in his resignation this spring, then changed his mind. “I had one student with a 7 percent in the class. She’s up to 54 percent,” he says. He’ll go before the school board and bring his students’ writing. He believes in them. There’s no idiots here. —Jaime Hebert


Foundation, the campaign was led primarily by volunteer members of the Foundation’s Board of Directors—including co-chairs Neal Pendergraft, Robert Young III, Bill Hanna, Bob Miller, and the late Sam M. Sicard, along with Jimmy Bell, Doug Babb, Gina Clark, H. Lawson Hembree, and Chris Whitt. The number of gifts totaled 12,240 from 2,889 different donors, nearly 80 percent of whom had never before given to UAFS. That huge increase in donor base bodes well for the university’s future, as do the whopping 168 percent increase over the course of the campaign in private scholarship dollars awarded per year and a similar increase in the Foundation’s total assets to roughly $70 million—money that makes the difference between just getting by on state funding and tuition revenue and really striving for excellence. —Zack Thomas

‘No Idiots Here’

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points of pride Decorated with four awards at the annual state convention for the Arkansas Nursing Students’ Association, students and advisors of the UAFS chapter including Kathy Tull, named Student of the Year; Ashley Mayfield, who won the Courageous Heart Award and the Financial Excellence Award; and Dana Reeves, named Chapter Adviser of the Year. Presented to UAFS Chancellor Paul B. Beran, Ph.D., the Silver Beaver Award from the Westark Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the highest award that a local council can bestow on an individual. Recipients are adult leaders who have made an impact on the lives of youth through service given to the council and their community. Beran served as president of the Westark Council for three years and now sits on its Board of Directors.


advanced research and study facilities

Boreham Library Reopens for Students

Commended with the Outstanding Lawyer Citizen Award from the Arkansas Bar Association and the Arkansas Bar Foundation, Wyman R. “Rick” Wade, Jr., Fort Smith attorney and UAFS adjunct faculty member. The award is given in recognition of outstanding participation in and excellent performance of civic responsibilities and for demonstrating high standards of professional competence and conduct.


The newly renovated and expanded Boreham Library offers a more modern look as well as

Featured in the January issue of Access, a national publication from the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, “S.T.A.M.P. of Approval: The Use of Specifically Targeted Antimicrobial Peptides in the Reduction of Dental Caries,” a paper by UAFS alumni Leah Beckum, Rebekah Hinkle, and Terri West. The three 2012 graduates of the dental hygiene program presented their research last spring at the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

WITH ITS GRAND REOPENING APRIL 3, Boreham Library—freshly renovated, more than doubled in size, and boasting a 40,000-square-foot Learning and Research Center addition—ushered in a new era for UAFS. The library—whose original 29,000 square feet of space housed only four computers and three typewriters for student use when it opened in 1987—now offers a 24-hour study lounge, 214 computer terminals, and charging stations and wi-fi service throughout for today’s wireless devices. Chancellor Paul B. Beran, Ph.D., described the completion of the $14.2 million expansion and renovation as the “capstone on our transformation” into a full-fledged regional university that will better serve a 21st century student body and support economic development. The project, led by MAHG Architects of Fort Smith and CDI Contractors of Little Rock, broke ground in June 2011. It was funded in part with a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, $2 million in federal stimulus money, smart refinancing of bonds, and more than $1 million to date in private gifts. —Wanda Freeman

Named the 2012 Urban Forestry Professional of the Year by the Arkansas Urban Forestry Council, Alison Litchy, who serves as urban forester for UAFS and the City of Fort Smith. Working with UAFS since 2009, Litchy manages the day-to-day care of the University’s arboretum. In 2009, UAFS was the first university in Arkansas to earn Tree Campus USA status from the Arbor Day Foundation and has earned it every year since.

Published by Arcadia Publishing as part of its postcard history series, Fort Smith, a book researched and written by assistant professor of English and rhetoric Dr. Kevin Jones that depicts the history of the city through nearly 200 postcard views of people, places, events, and businesses.

(continued on page 7)


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Vertical lines of delicate Nüshu cover a replica Chinese fan. Created ZACK THOMAS

by women in the Hunan province, the mysterious script remained in use for perhaps 1,000 years.

Lost, Burned, or Buried The past and sad future of the Nüshu script The men of Jiangyong County, in the Hunan province of China, didn’t think much of the wispy, delicate writing of the women they lived with, didn’t much bother to listen when it was spoken or sung. In fact, according to Dr. Ann-Gee Lee, “If the men heard them singing it, they would know, ‘Oh, that’s just another woman complaining!’” And that was exactly the point. “If it was written, women could gripe all they wanted in their little diaries, and the men would look at it and say, ‘That’s just scribbling,’” says Lee, assistant professor at UAFS. “Men dismissed it because, ‘That’s not real men’s writing.’” But to women, that script, called Nüshu, was more than just a convenient way to complain. It was the only independence they could find in a world where men ruled and women, who were rarely allowed to learn to read or write the region’s primary language, 6

quietly obeyed. Despite—or maybe because of—their bound feet and confined lives, the women of Jiangyong invented their own written language and then kept it essentially secret from men for as much as a thousand years. In her office, Lee, who studies Nüshu, holds up a Chinese fan. Vertical lines of delicate, mosquito-leg writing fill one side. The flip side is marked with the heavy, masculine symbols of traditional Chinese. “Here is Chinese. Chinese was called Hanzi, which is men’s writing. And so Nüshu is literally ‘women’s writing.’” Nüshu’s origins are a mystery. “There are a lot of different myths,” says Lee. “One girl maybe snuck into her brother’s lessons and copied what he wrote, not really knowing how to write it. Or somebody created their own system as a way to rebel.” Women hid the script in plain sight on

embroidered cloth, painted fans, or weaving. Many passed a San Chao Shu, a cloth-bound scrapbook, to their married Jiebai Zhimei, or sworn sisters. In the 1930s and ’40s, when the invading Japanese discovered the mysterious script, they worried, rightly, that it could be used as a secret code and did their best to snuff it out. Later, in the 1960s and ’70s, Nüshu came into the crosshairs again. “Mao himself tried to suppress it,” says Lee. “There’s a story of a woman at a train station. The Red Guards saw she had all this writing and said ‘She’s a spy!’” Or a witch. The writing was burned, the woman arrested. Today, only a few scholars can still read and write Nüshu. It’s a dying language. A museum in Jiangyong houses a tiny collection of Nüshu artifacts. But most Nüshu was lost, burned, or buried with women who took their San Chao Shus to the grave. Maybe that was the plan all along, though. Because, as any Jiangyong woman knows, the best way to ensure your secret language stays secret is to hide it, of course. —Jaime Hebert

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Detail: Leaves, Shortleaf

(continued from page 5) Honored with a Charlie Award by the Florida Magazine Association for their article “Coping with Millennials on Campus,” which appeared in the international business magazine BizEd in 2011, Dr. Steve Williams, dean of the College of Business; Dr. Jim Beard, head of the Business Administration Department; and Dr. Margaret Tanner, head of the Accounting, Economics and Finance Department. The Charlie is the top award in the competition.

Big Beauties Art, science, and history come together in Arkansas Champion Trees: An Artist’s Journey, an exhibit by alumna Linda Williams Palmer opening Sept. 8 on the UAFS campus. Palmer, a longtime Fort Smith resident who now lives and works in Hot Springs, has traveled 7,000 miles since 2007 to research Arkansas’s “champion” trees—the biggest specimens of their respective species in the state—later creating vivid coloredpencil drawings from selected photographs. Among them are images of a soaring shortleaf pine near Hamburg, the biggest in the country; a bald cypress standing in a dry swamp with its knees exposed, the biggest known tree of any specie in Arkansas; and a massive white oak in Dardanelle, in whose shade state and Cherokee leaders signed a treaty in the early 1820s. —Wanda Freeman

Selected as the new chair of the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Continuing Legal Education, Lynn Lisk, program director and associate professor in the UAFS Legal Assistance/Paralegal program. The committee oversees the certification of continuing legal education programs in the state. Printed in the Autumn 2012 issue of The Musical Times, Dr. Stephen Husarik’s “Musical Direction and the Wedge in Beethoven’s High Comedy, Grosse Fuge Op. 133.” Husarik’s work argues that the famously esoteric work is in fact intended as a spoof. The project involved a National Endowment for the Humanities grant and travel to Krakow and Vienna in order to see sketches and manuscripts associated with the work.


Bald Cypress, Arkansas

Lauded at the state, regional, and national levels of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, the UAFS production of the the original play Drømnium, written by theatre director Bob Stevenson, which won national-level awards for Outstanding Production of a Devised Work, Distinguished Lead Deviser/Director of a Devised Work, Outstanding Choreography, Outstanding Lighting Design, Distinguished Performance by an Actress, Outstanding Sound Design, and Outstanding Performance and Production Ensemble.

Awarded a whopping 47 ADDYs by the Fort Smith chapter of the American Advertising Federation, UAFS students, who won Special Judge’s Awards, several professional-level medals, and many more in student categories, and UAFS staff members Carl Hulsey, Laura Wattles, Jessica Martin, Champ Williams, and Peter Cullum, who took home medals for the Season of Entertainment brochure, the UAFS Traditions Book, the UAFS Viewbook, and a series of television commercials. Graphic design assistant professor Colin McClain won the Outstanding Educator Award, and Kelby Franklin of Mansfield won the Best of Show award in the student category.

Shortleaf Pine, Ashley White Oak, Yell County


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Dreaming It

Strumming for STEM

Visions of a college education became more real for a group of students from Fort Smith’s Darby Junior High last year when members of the Chancellor’s Leadership Council developed Project Dream, an outreach initiative that prompted the youngsters to set their futures in tile. Combining a community mosaic art project with a mentoring component – each child designed a tile depicting an image from his or her future – Project Dream dovetailed perfectly with an existing afterschool program at Darby and with goals of the Western Arkansas Education Renewal Zone, says Director Jennifer Jennings Davis.

Students get amped for guitar building class



Students test out the guitars they built in an Electronics Special Topics class last fall.

STEP ONE: BUILD YOUR own guitar. Step Two: Rock out. Does this sound like a typical university course? It does to students in an Electronics Special Topics class taught by John Martini and Kerrie Taber. On the final day of class, some students were strumming their guitars, while others were adjusting the strings, perfecting the tuning, or testing the intonation. Says Martini, “The students design their own headstock, we teach them a little bit about CADD, they cut it out, and they make it. They have to do all the work themselves.” And that’s only the headstock. Students also sand the body, put on the frets, and do all the soldering and electronics. 8

Electronics student Kyle Helms says, “I just took this class so I could build a guitar. It costs a little more. We had to pay for the guitar kits.” The guitar is the hook for many students, but there’s a bigger purpose here: Science, Technology, Electronics and Math, also known as “STEM.” The class’s Bachelor of Science students recently applied their STEM knowledge when they presented a paper on guitar manufacturing at a research symposium. Oh, and that guitar? Martini and Taber score each one, but Helms wasn’t worried about its performance. “Some guys played mine Sunday at church,” he says. “They said it was pretty good.” —Jaime Hebert

The UAFS-based ERZ partners with 35 schools in 11 districts across six counties, collaborating with educators from pre-school through college and sharing resources to improve learning experiences. “We do something with Darby four times a year – two times we go there, and two times we bring them here,” Davis says, emphasizing the importance of the campus visits. “They literally ‘go to college.’ They need to envision themselves doing that. They need to know that a college education is an option.” Forty-seven Project Dream students visited campus Oct. 4, 2012, crafting their tiles under the guidance of 26 UAFS student mentors, and returned Nov. 6, 2012, to unveil their assembled mosaic. Today, that mosaic can be seen in the entry of the Fullerton Building. And in a few years, you might cross paths with some of the artists, making literal their dreams.

—Wanda Freeman

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Former WATC student Zack McClain entered the workforce with an associate degree ... before graduating high school.


opportunity,” he says. “If you show up here and you’re willing to work, anyone at this entire university is going to try to help you. It’s an amazing feeling, and it does pay off.” During his time in WATC, McClain became involved with Skills USA, a national organization that lets students apply their technical skills in a series of competitions. McClain won gold awards at the state level his junior and senior years, and placed 15th in the nation last WATC offers high school students the college experience at no cost year. He’s going back for a third round in just a few weeks and is enthusiastic about the doors that could open Area high school students learn about “DON’T COME TO WATC thinking for him as a result. the program through open houses or from you’re just going to get out of high school But most importantly, the competition guidance counselors. They complete an half a day.” gives McClain the chance to show his apapplication, then make a Next Step visit to This advice comes from Zack McClain, preciation to and for UAFS. “I represent this the center. “We like to show them all the fun who knows what he’s talking about. He just university, and I feel the obligation to do my things they could be doing,” says Pair. received his diploma from Van Buren High best and to represent in the best way posIt was this visit that hooked McClain. School, a week after he walked away from sible.” McClain also hopes to show the next “That’s where I really got my taste of the UAFS commencement ceremony with batch of WATC students what’s possible. WATC,” he says. an Associate of Applied Science in General “I know kids that threw away their WATC McClain believes any driven student can Automotive Technology. opportunity, and it’s really sad to see it,” he go far with WATC’s assistance. He’s comThat’s right: McClain got his college says. “There’s no three strikes and you’re out. ing back to UAFS in the fall to pursue an degree before he graduated from high school, You fail, and you’re done.” —Jaime Hebert electrical engineering degree with the help of all because he attended the Western Arkanthe Boreham Engineering Scholarship. “It’s sas Technical Center at UAFS, commonly known as WATC (rhymes with Yahtzee). “I was able to complete my entire degree plan before commencement, so I had 73 college credit hours.” On Feb. 6, Jessie N. Cunningham, Chris Arnold, Kevin Tran, and Theva Chanthaseny McClain is only the fourth WATC stutook time to pose for a picture with Gov. Mike Beebe at the state capitol. The UAFS dent to receive a college degree while still in students were among 90 undergraduates from 14 universities across the state to high school. And the kicker is that McClain present their research at the STEM Posters at the Capitol event in Little Rock. didn’t pay for those credit hours, one of the The event allowed students to biggest advantages of the program. As Mcpresent their research to state Clain says, “Free college. There’s no other officials, the media, fellow STEM way to put it.” undergraduates and faculty, and According to Jamie Pair, WATC’s asthe public. “I know we have some sistant director, the program is free because outstanding work being done by it’s funded by the Arkansas Department our students,” said Dr. Mark Arant, of Workforce Education and participating dean of the College of Science, school districts. “We serve high school juTechnology, Engineering and niors and seniors in six counties from 21 high Mathematics. “This will give UAFS schools. That’s about 500 students per year.” a chance for that work to be seen All students get hands-on career training by others across the state.” plus textbooks, transportation, and supplies.

‘Free College’




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Feeling Words

UAFS letterpress studio teaches the art of slowing down IF YOU WEREN’T LOOKING for it, you could miss the nondescript door to the basement of the Gardner Building, the one labeled “Underground Ink” with a hand pointing down. Makes you wonder what’s behind that door. Head inside and walk down the short flight of steps, as the hand directs, and take a step back in time. You’re in the letterpress and book arts studio. Letterpress? Isn’t that how books and newspapers were printed before computers made it easy? That’s the impression most people have. Spend a few minutes at Underground Ink, though, and you’ll see letterpress is more than getting words to paper. In letterpress and book arts, it’s all about the experience of the printed word. Katie Harper, associate professor of graphic design and book art, is the reason students are professing their love for printing presses. When she first came to UAFS

in 2008, she had a Vandercook press and a vision of a studio dedicated to the craft of fine printing that began to take shape with a donation from a local printer: “I went to Calvert McBride, and Bill Calvert took me back to this huge warehouse,” Harper says. “We got eight cabinets of type. He’d been storing it all this time just in case somebody could put it to good use. He just didn’t want to trash it, and I’m so glad he didn’t.” Then came grant writing. And moving from the 175-squarefoot space in the Ballman-Speer Building to a much larger area in the basement of the Gardner Building. Then in 2009, the UAFS letterpress studio became reality. Student work takes center stage at Underground Ink, where words literally surround you. Invitations to campus events, final projects, student résumés, even Christmas cards, are created by students immersed in a world of tactile letters and timeworn

presses. Students of graphic design, art, history, and languages take these classes, purportedly to learn the techniques and vocabulary of letterpress and book arts, yet they’re also learning something more valuable. In a modern world of busy schedules, constant connection, “hurry up and finish,” students in the letterpress studio learn the art of slowing down, as well as the value of a mistake. In fact, Harper says, “I’m pretty convinced students learn more from doing it wrong. Doing it right is easy. Do it wrong, and you learn a lot more about the materials, methods, and the creative ways to get around a problem.” Sure, almost anyone can print out 1,000 copies of a computer-created document. It may even look good. But there’s something about the feel of fine paper, the texture the letters make, that creates a siren call for some UAFS students. So if you happen to pass that unassuming door, follow that pointing finger. Discover for yourself how the techniques of the past bring words to life and life to words. —Jaime Hebert

lot more,” says Harper.



“Doing it right is easy. Do it wrong, and you learn a

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Lacey Neissl-Clark ’08 It was a crazy 2012 for Charleston native Lacey Neissl-Clark ’08. She’d parlayed her bachelor’s in business administration into a promising career as a loan officer at Arvest Bank, and she was busy planning her August wedding to Josh Clark. As if that wasn’t enough, when a friend who knew of Lacey’s po-


What on Earth prompted you to run for Justice of the Peace of Charleston?

I’ve always been interested in politics. I thought this election would be a good way to get my foot in the door. I was born and raised in Charleston, so I have a high respect for the people who live there. I really thought I could be a good voice for the people. All my friends asked, “Why are you doing this?” But then they’d be wearing my button anywhere I asked them to. We all got together and did a door-to-door campaign. That reached a lot of voters. Now my friends think it’s important, too. With our age sometimes we get cast aside, but our vote and voice count just as much.


So, what does a justice of the peace actually do?

I represent District 9 of Charleston. I sit on the quorum court, the governing body of the county. There’s no mayor or anything like that here, so we decide on budget and development. JPs work closely with the county judge to fix issues … but I can’t fix a traffic ticket in Franklin County! We work

litical interests suggested she run for Franklin County’s Justice of the Peace, she threw her hat in the ring and launched a political campaign. Watching her name scroll across the screen on Election Day with a victory margin of 54 percent to 46 percent over her opponent made all the stress worth it.

on the issues people feel need change: county roads, the jail, things like that. I really enjoy performing marriage ceremonies on the side; it’s a fun perk to the job. But at the end of the day, I’m representing the people who elected me, and working with the other JPs to bring the voice of the people to the county level.


Once the people tell you what they want, what do you do with that information?

If it’s something many people come to me and are passionate about, I’ll try to get it on the agenda for the quorum court meetings. You get a lot of people with the same issues over and over. “I want my road paved,” things like that. Practical things. I’m working to get a gazebo built as a memorial for all the veterans of the foreign wars at the Charleston courthouse. A lot of people are on board with that idea.


You beat the incumbent, who was there for at least 12 years. How did that feel?

served the county for a long time, and a lot of people felt there needed to be some new blood, maybe some younger blood with some different ideas. They had trusted him for so many years. It’s really a humbling feeling knowing that they trust me just as much. He did provide a good service to the county, and we appreciate his service.


What are you looking forward to as a justice of the peace?

There’s still a lot to learn. I’m elected for two years, so I don’t have to worry about running another election until next year. I’m going to learn as much as I can about how to better serve my county. It’s a lot of fun getting the younger generation involved. People our age ask me questions, and I feel like I can bridge that gap a little bit. And the weddings have been pretty fun! I’m very lucky to be able to do something I really love. The people of Charleston trust me to represent their best interests in things they feel passionate about. I just hope they feel I’m doing a good job. —Jaime Hebert

I’m not going to lie, it felt good! He had UAFS BELL TOWER

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Sense of Place



4 3 8 6

The Bell Tower: Putting a Ring on It From its place of honor at the center of campus, the majestic Donald W. Reynolds Bell Tower offers a presence both visible and audible. Every hour on the hour comes a Westminster chime from its lofty chamber, and on special occasions, the tower’s three swinging bells issue a celebratory peal that people a mile away can hear. In this fashion, the bell tower serves as an icon for UAFS and extends a beckoning call to the community at large. Head carillonneur and music history


professor Stephen Husarik, Ph.D., says the tower, with its 43 bells, ranks 16th nationally among nontraditional instruments. And while purists might disapprove of its electronic workings, we can’t imagine our campus green without the bell tower. Indeed, we can barely imagine how campus looked – or sounded – before it came along. (But if you really want to know, check out the back cover of this issue.)

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tower operated for nearly a decade with only 42 ringers before No. 43 was added in 2004. The newcomer nudged us up a notch in the national rankings, where true carillons can have as few as 23 bells, and also enhanced musical capabilities. All of the Flemish-style bronze bells were cast at the Paccard-Fonderie de Cloches in Annecy, France. Besides the chimes that sound every hour between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily, the tower keeps a busy performance schedule: “The rate of productivity is incredible,” Husarik says. Since its inception, the carillon has presented nearly 1,000 live performances and more than 3,000 recorded performances.


3. Bells big and small:



Weighing in at a hefty 1,418 pounds and keeping company with chimes as feathery-light as 28 pounds, this giant ringer contributes to the bell tower’s 10th-place ranking in total bell weight by the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America. Number and weight rankings are within the nontraditional category: “We’re listed as an electronic instrument,” says Husarik, explaining that a traditional carillon is operated mechanically, while ours operates via fiber optic cable. All of the bells are inscribed to honor people important to the university’s history, including the university’s founder and past presidents through Stubblefield. The biggest bell bears the name of Donald W. Reynolds—whose foundation commissioned the tower, plaza, and campus green—as well as the expression “He did it his way.”

1. Chamber: The bell chamber resides near

the peak of the nearly 109-foot tower. From there, a ladder trip brings you to the parapet surrounding the clock, which is topped off with a dome. Joel Stubblefield, who was Westark president at the time of the tower’s construction, insisted on a dome instead of a pyramid-shaped steeple, Husarik says. 2. Carillon bells: Built in 1995, the bell

4. Strikers: Carillon bells remain stationary

and silent until struck by a moving striker or clapper. These exterior strikers are driven electronically, by live or recorded composi-

tions that musicians create on a piano. “The performer plays on a standard keyboard that sends an electronic signal via fiber optic cable up to a translator box at the top. Each signal then goes to a particular bell and tells the striker to strike,” Husarik says. “We have essentially a music box—a player piano,” he says. But despite that self-effacing admission, Husarik argues that performing on any carillon requires great compositional talent, since electronic instruments demand a certain digital finesse. For Chancellor Paul B. Beran’s investiture in 2006, Husarik adapted and played a processional tune, “A Chancellor’s Investiture March,” composed for the occasion by Aime Lombaert, the carillonneur for the city of Brugge, Belgium. 5. Rockers: The carillon includes three

bells that can be “cut loose” to serve as peal bells on special occasions. Driven to and fro by pulley-like rockers, these swinging bells sound when rocked so that the inside surface strikes a clapper. In peal mode, they can’t be played rhythmically or to a tune as they can when stationary. “Peal bells can be heard a mile away,” says Husarik. “We only use them for celebratory purposes, like graduations and convocations.” 6. Trap door: While electricians and grounds crew workers have to climb 90 feet up a spiraling catwalk to the bell chamber— and then ascend a ladder to reach the parapet and clock above—the bells come in through a spacious trap door. 7. Air vents: Designed like a giant wind tunnel, the bell tower draws air upward into the chamber—which at 90 feet above ground gets mighty hot on a summer’s day, Husarik says—while the shielded fans expel the air through the chamber windows. 8. Screened windows: The bell chamber

is an open-air affair, with windows covered only by a wire mesh screen. Sized and positioned with acoustics in mind, the window openings allow the sound of the chimes to travel to distant listeners without injuring the ears of people just below. The screens also protect the bell chamber by keeping out all but the most unfortunate birds. —Wanda Freeman


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Knowledge Base

Views at Eleven

A savvy take on Crystal Bridges, inside and out


Take Your Time. Embry

suggests setting aside at least two hours for your visit – and if possible, spreading your visit over two days. Keep in mind that events and special exhibits may require an Rosie the Riveter, by admission fee, Norman Rockwell while general admission to the museum and grounds is free. If you want to beat the crowds, Embry says, the best time to arrive is when the museum first opens at 11 a.m. You could have lunch at the restaurant, Eleven, which is open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and still be ahead of the heavy afternoon traffic. Embry says the museum is especially busy on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – so for the crowd-shy, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday may be better. The museum is closed on Tuesdays. It’s open until 9 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday, and until 6 p.m. on the other days. —Wanda Freeman


plan accordingly. You’ll find all kinds WITH THOUSANDS OF works to view of helpful information: museum hours, and miles of trails to walk, Crystal Bridges announcements of special exhibitions, Museum of American Art seems to challenge descriptions of the permanent as well as beckon. A first-time visitor to the collection, trail details, maps sprawling Bentonville site—200,000 and directions, guest services, square feet of indoor space the Eleven restaurant menu, situated on 120 acres—might instructions for becoming a understandably wonder: How member or requesting group can I possibly take it all in? or audio tours, and more. We asked Alana Embry, a UAFS adjunct faculty memExplore. Crystal Bridges ber who volunteers at Crystal opened in 2011 with 2,000 Bridges, for a little insider inworks in its permanent colsight. She shared her thoughts lection, which spans five cenand a few savvy tips. turies of American art. Since “You see something new then, according to Laura Jacobs, every time,” says Embry, suggestcommunications director, ing that perhaps taking it all in the museum has collected is beside the point. That being 600 more works. said, there are ways to make “We’re always adding the most of your visit. Here are Standing Explosion (Red), new works. … And we rotate her suggestions. art quite often,” Jacobs says. by Roy Lichtenstein So, if you feel as if you’re Plan Ahead. Check the missing something, Embry suggests going Crystal Bridges website, crystalbridges. off the grid a bit and exploring. org, so you’ll know what to expect and can


Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

“Sometimes there are little hallway rooms that you might miss unless you walk around. People often miss an installation of Jenny Holzer tiles that can be found outside in its own courtyard,” Embry says. She also recommends exploring the grounds, where you’ll find a Robert Indiana Love sculpture and other outdoor works. Jacobs suggests wearing good walking shoes so you can hit the trails for ever-changing, always-unique art experiences. “The trails are beautiful at every time of year,” she says. “Each new season offers a brand new landscape.” Jacobs’ ideal day at Crystal Bridges ends at sundown at Skyspace, a structure at the end of the Art Trail by James Turrell. Called The Way of Color, the work provides a view of the sky altered by stunning light effects that change depending on the weather and natural light conditions.

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Mandy Osburn, Accountant/Musician



f only for a few moments, the music moves the crowd gathered in the senior center’s dining hall. Some sit with eyes closed, swaying slightly, transported to a time and place where they were younger, stronger. One man likes to get up and dance. He’s still got the moves. For many folks in Fort Smith-area nursing homes and senior centers, listening to Mandy Osburn ’95 (UC) play piano and sing is a muchanticipated event, a welcome reprieve from days otherwise filled with predictable routines. “It started with our church,” says Osburn, whose day job, so to speak, is directing the financial operations of the UAFS Foundation. A small group would visit assisted living centers and nursing homes. Caroling during the holiday season was a hit with both the singers and the residents. Soon, Osburn was visiting facilities monthly to perform on her own. “They love all the old hymns,” she says. “‘I’ll Fly Away’ is definitely their favorite. ‘Amazing Grace’ is another. It’s neat just to see their faces.” After a performance, Osburn chats up her audience.

She brings along her kids, ages 2 and 8. Her shy 8 year old protests gently with a quiet “Oh, mom!” when she’s asked to mingle, but soon relents. It’s clear the residents enjoy the performances, and Osburn can usually expect to get a few more “gigs” from audience members, although she doesn’t perform for money—just to entertain. Lately, she’s sung and played for weddings, conferences, and special days like the National Day of Prayer and Mother’s Day. “It’s mostly through word of mouth and people who have heard me sing at the nursing homes,” she says. It’s remarkable that so much talent could be little more than a hobby, but Osburn is actually trained as an accountant, not a musician. Although she began taking piano lessons at 7, and started singing at 13, she mostly performed at her church. Since then, her career and her singing have stayed separate. That’s okay with Osburn, though. She’ll gladly take her audience “to a land where joys will never end” as long as they keep asking her to. —Jaime Hebert

It is remarkable that so much talent could be little more than a hobby, but Osburn is actually trained as an accountant, not a musician.



Mandy Osburn at Legacy Heights Retirement Center,

UA Fort Smith BELL TOWER 15 Van Buren.

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Lions Lowdown


On the Loose

Not Quite as Planned



TARI CUMMINGS ’99 NEVER PLANNED to be a star basketball player at Westark. Nor did she plan to parlay that experience into a career where she’s again emerging as a star. Sometimes, it seems, long-term planning is overrated, especially when you have the competitive drive, perseverance, and people skills that Cummings has shown on the way to becoming an assistant coach for the University of Arkansas Lady Razorbacks basketball team. As a senior at Pocola (Okla.) High School, Cummings’ top choices were Oklahoma State University and the University of Arkansas. But right before signing day, the selfdescribed “headstrong” 5’11 post player rebelled against her parents’ wishes, signing with what’s now Texas State University, and quickly regretting it. “I woke up in the middle of the night and was like, ‘Oh my gosh—what have I done? I can’t go there.’” And so she landed at Westark, playing for coach Louis Whorton. Cummings left two seasons later as a two-time captain, the program’s third all-time leading scorer, and a 1999 All-American. She battled interior players down low, averaging more than 20 points and almost 10 rebounds, and she fought recurring knee injuries, including three ACL tears. “I remember my coaches having to hold me back because I only knew one speed.” Cummings next played for Oklahoma State, where she was an all-Big 12 performer, graduated in 2003, and returned to Fort Smith to work for USA Truck, Inc., en route to launching her own business. But that course changed in 2003 after a spot on the Lady Lions’ coaching staff opened. Whorton pursued her as the best contender for the job: “I told her she needed to get away from that cushy desk job and come coach with me.” Although Cummings had never seriously considered coaching, she decided the opportunity was too good to pass up—and it was. In her four years, she mentored three All-Americans and helped lead teams to two Final Four appearances in the NJCAA national tournament. Now, after stints in Cincinnati and Houston, Cummings and her 12-year-old daughter Tiya are again close to family in Fayetteville. And in two years there, Cummings’ recruiting efforts are helping take Arkansas from occasional SEC contender to perennial powerhouse. That’s the plan, and this time Cummings has good reason to stick to it. —Evin Demirel


Cummings coaching the Lady Razorbacks in the 2012-13 season

THERE WILL SOON BE a lion on the loose in the horse racing world, and it’s all because of a Fort Smith woman’s love of the UAFS Lions. Chances are if you’ve gone to any of the Lions games, you’ve seen Wanda Srygley. “My husband and I went to all the basketball games,” she says. “He passed away in 1989, but I still go.” Her interest doesn’t end with basketball. She attends nearly every athletic event at the school and has endowed several scholarships. Every Christmas she prepares a home-cooked meal for each team, including the cheerleaders and pep band. “You wouldn’t believe it—the pep band kids are the biggest eaters,” she says. She even named a horse for the studentathletes. “I told the kids I’d name a horse for them,” she says, and when the next foal was born, she made good on her promise. She named the filly UAFSLions. That beautiful gray mare never raced on the track; she injured a leg and wasn’t able to compete. But she became a brood mare, and her first foal was born at the end of January. “Her name is LionOnTheLoose,” Srygley says. “She’s a darling little filly—she’s roan with a blaze on her face.” Watch for her in 2015 at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Ark.; Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La.; and possibly the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. “She’s an early foal, so she’ll probably run as a 2 year old,” Srygley says. Until then, look for Srygley at Lions games in the 2013-14 season. “I have not missed a volleyball game,” she says. “I don’t know what I’m watching, I have no idea what’s going on, but I clap when everyone else does and stand up when everyone else stands up.” —Ty Stockton

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Proud of the Pride


Lions basketball players load a truck with toys collected during the 2012 Toy Toss.

Creating Champions in the Classroom, in the Community, and in Competition UAFS AND THE ATHLETIC department staff are staunch advocates of the NCAA’s threepillar model for the development of well-rounded student-athletes. Two columns fall under the scope of coaches and professors, but the students-athletes are doing a little schooling of their own when it comes to community engagement. This new breed of good will ambassador reads to kindergartners, works at school fairs and summer camps, goads principals into double-dutch jump rope contests, and teaches timid base-runners how to steal second with state-of-the-art equipment: a garden hose and a Slip ‘N Slide. They reach out to friends in the Fort Smith area for help with cancer awareness events like Dig Pink, Pink Zone, and Batting for a Cure and donate to national charities like Susan B. Komen, Kay Yow, and Make-a-Wish. With the help of area elementary school students, more than 6,000 toys were collected for the Salvation Army during the annual Toy Toss, which won top accolades from the Heartland Conference. Take away the wins, take away the 3.0 cumulative GPA for athletics, and these friendly humanitarians would still deserve the label “champions.” —Liz Snyder

THE LIONS AND LADY LIONS HAD MUCH to roar about throughout the 2012-13 season. Lady Lions volleyball finished the year with a perfect conference record of 14-0, securing the conference championship and reclaiming last year’s conference tournament title. Senior Heidi Luks racked up numerous honors, including All-Conference, Conference Tournament MVP, and Heartland Conference Player of the Year. The Lions basketball team finished the season 16-12 overall, claimed the conference championship, and placed second in the conference tournament, led by seniors Djordje Stojanovic, who was named First Team All-Conference, and Dijon Farr, Conference Defensive Player of the Year. From the baseball Lions, senior Madison Beaird was named First Team All-Conference while senior Adam Baker and freshman Ozzie Hurt were added to the All Heartland Conference Gold Glove Team. Men’s cross-country, anchored by AllConference juniors Ta’Baris and Ta’Taris Earnest, took third in the conference meet, while the women took fifth, led by All-Conference freshman Katy Carter. And we can’t forget the tennis teams, which produced four All-Conference standouts: junior Amy Belanger and freshmen Jorge Salazar, Matt Tabler, and Chris Ramirez, who was also named Conference Co-Freshman of the Year. Congratulations go out to all UAFS student-athletes. —Jessica Martin ’10

Shadow Play


THE LATEST MINI-MAKEOVER OF THE PLAYING SURFACE AT the Stubblefield Center will be as fleeting as its predecessors, so catch it while you can. “Every couple of years you have to resurface the floor, and this was the last time you could do that without replacing the wood,” recalls UAFS graphic designer Peter Cullum, who was tapped to design the new look in 2011. Out went the one-color Lion logo and paint-only details, and in came the elegant shadow of Numa pouncing behind the center-court “UAFS” —plus the use of a stain for both Numa and the … uh, paint. See a time-lapse video of the process at —Wanda Freeman


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In the face of national demand for a better-prepared nursing workforce and improved patient outcomes, UAFS grows its BSN program by KELLY BROOKS

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^ Jennie McClain stands in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, where she now works as a patient care manager.

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students each semester.


cate, diploma, or associate degree as their highest level of education. Statewide, 30 percent have baccalaureate-level education and 70 percent have less. That means Arkansas has a long way to go to meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommended goal of having 80 percent of the RN workforce hold a bachelor’s degree by 2020. The recommendation comes from the IOM’s landmark report The Future of Nursing, initiated by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and released in October 2010, which outlines a blueprint for the nationwide future of nursing.

Stepping Up At UAFS, the Carolyn McKelvey Moore School of Nursing has stepped up to the challenge, growing its BSN program while slowly phasing out the Associate Degree in Nursing. Since the BSN program was launched in 2008, “interest in the associate degree began to plummet, and interest in the BSN skyrocketed,” says College of Health Sciences Dean Carolyn Mosley, Ph.D., who is a nurse herself. The first class of 20 BSN students arrived in 2008. Now the college accepts 120 new students into the program each year. With nearly 700 future nurses enrolled at UAFS, the


ike many in her profession, Jennie McClain ’94, ’07 was drawn to nursing for the job security it offered. With a newborn son and a struggling marriage, McClain needed to earn a living—and fast. It was the early 1990s, hospitals were paying large sign-on bonuses for nurses, and McClain thought, “Hey, I could do that.” She couldn’t have been more right. Throughout McClain’s associate degree program at Westark, “our instructors would say things like, ‘When you go back and get your bachelor’s…’ They planted the seed for my higher education,” she says. In 1994 she graduated with her associate degree, became licensed as a registered nurse, and began working in the newborn nursery at Fort Smith’s Mercy Hospital. Even though she had a new job and was now a single mom Carolyn Mosley, Ph.D., to 3-year-old Logan, she immediately dean of the College started working toward a Bachelor of of Health Sciences, is Science in Nursing. overseeing the expansion McClain is a standout in Sebastian of the BSN program, County, where only 19 percent of nurses which can now accept without a graduate degree hold a BSN; an additional 20 the remaining 81 percent have a certifi-

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^ program could have a huge impact on nursing care in the Fort Smith area. Why? Research has shown that higher levels of nurse education lead to better patient outcomes, particularly lower rates of patient mortality and increased rates of rescue when complications arise. For example, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that surgical patients in hospitals with Magnet status (a special recognition for nursing excellence, including having a high proportion of nurses with BSNs) have 14 percent lower odds of inpatient death and 12 percent lower odds Nursing student of failure-to-rescue. Shannon WilA similar study in the Journal liams practices of Nursing Administration found inserting an IV that every 10 percent increase in the on a nursing lab proportion of BSN nurses on the manikin. hospital staff was associated with a 4 percent decrease in the risk of death. This kind of evidence is what spurred the IOM to recommend that 80 percent of the RN workforce have BSNs by the year 2020. Other leading health care organizations have joined to rally for the cause, including the Tri-Council for Nursing, which issued a consensus statement in 2010 for all RNs to advance their education, stating that “without a more educated nursing workforce, the nation’s health will be further at risk.”

Advancing by Degrees But obtaining that higher education—with all the time, money, dedication, and energy that is required—can be a challenge for a working nurse.

Gifts Help Nursing Program Meet Demand Generous gifts from Fort Smith’s Benefit Bank and Mrs. Donnie Pendergraft are responsible for the expansion of UAFS’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, allowing an additional 20 students to enroll each semester. Gifts from Benefit Bank will be used to purchase a high-fidelity adult patient simulator and establish the Benefit Bank Endowed Professorship of Nursing. Pendergraft’s gift creates two additional endowed professorships—the Douglas O. Smith, Jr., Endowed Professorship of Nursing and the Jim L. Hanna Endowed Professorship of Nursing—and provides funds to reconfigure the Simulation Lab in the Pen-

dergraft Health Sciences Center, including the addition of six new simulators. While the gifts certainly benefit UAFS, their true impact will reach far beyond campus, where demand for registered nurses nationwide outstrips universities’ ability to produce them. Graduates of the UAFS nursing program enjoy a 100 percent employment rate. Demand for more nursing slots comes not just from hospitals and doctors, but also from the students themselves. Competition is so stiff that currently only about 30 percent of applicants to the UAFS nursing program are admitted. So, with demands so high, why don’t

nursing programs just expand to meet the need? In large part, expansion is limited because of the difficulty in finding doctoratelevel nurse educators. Well-paid nursing jobs are so readily available that there is little incentive for RNs to pursue graduatelevel education. And that’s where endowed professorships—one of the key goals of the Giving Opportunity campaign—come in. By offering additional compensation and improved opportunities for scholarship, endowed positions help UAFS compete for those highly sought-after educators—and, ultimately, improve the quality of healthcare in our region. —Wanda Freeman


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The Pendergraft Health Sciences building, home of the Carolyn McKelvey Moore School of Nursing.

For McClain, the transition was slow going. After 10 years in the program, she still didn’t have her degree. But that year, when her mother passed away, McClain decided to make a change. “I looked at my life and thought, ‘Life is short. You have to go after you want.’ So I decided to make education my priority,” she says. She promptly left her job and enrolled in the RN-to-BSN online completion program at UAFS. “It was awesome,” she says. “It pushed me over the precipice from being a nurse to being a professional nurse.” Bachelor’s degree in hand, McClain began a new job working nights in the neonatal intensive care unit at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock in 2007. She started at the RN II level, which requires at least one year of nursing experience, but quickly moved into an RN III position, which includes advanced responsibilities such as serving as a preceptor for new nurses and leading quality improvement initiatives. “I noticed a big difference between the professionalism of associate’s nurses and bachelor’s nurses when I got the degree, but it was really when I got promoted to RN III that I could really tell a difference,” says McClain. “I had a much deeper understanding of my professional obligations and what it means to be a member of a profession. I felt myself strictly adhering to professional standards, getting more into reading research articles, increasing accountability,


increasing informational literacy.” This difference is easily perceived by those at all levels of the nursing profession. As Mosley notes: “Anyone who has worked in a hospital setting or administrative role—which I have—can tell the difference when nurses have a bachelor’s degree. The two-year degree focused only on technical skills. Those with a four-year degree pair their technical skills with thinking, analysis, public health, case management, and leadership. They have better critical thinking, research, and management skills.”

Professionals Preferred Hospitals and health care facilities are quick to recognize the skills that baccalaureate-level nurses bring to the table. “We know that the trend in hiring practices is that hospitals prefer BSN graduates. Prospective students recognize that. Hospitals recognize that,” says Mosley. Job prospects for BSN graduates are fantastic, particularly in the South, according to a 2012 survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Two-thirds of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the South have a job offer by graduation day; 92 percent received a job offer within six months. These offers are flowing in from the 39.1 percent of employers that require new hires to have a BSN and the 77.4 percent that have a strong preference for BSN program graduates.

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But what about the money? Nurses who have a BSN can expect higher wages than their ADN counterparts, even when employed in the same role. For example, in 2008 staff nurses with a BSN earned 6.9 percent more than those with an ADN ($63,382 vs. $59,310), and at 13.6 percent the disparity is even greater among first-line management nurses ($75,144 vs. $66,138). A bachelor’s degree is also a crucial steppingstone for aspiring nurse educators and advanced practice nurses. For those who want to teach or become a nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, or clinical nurse specialist, a master’s degree is needed in order to take that next step in their career. McClain is among them. She graduated with her master’s degree in nursing education in July and already has plans to earn a Ph.D. in the near future. Meanwhile, she teaches a pediatric clinical rotation for UAFS nursing students and has been promoted to patient care manager in the neonatal ICU at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. “I have no plans to leave Children’s anytime soon, but I’d like to teach in the future,” she says.

Growing Demand She’s on a track to a high-demand career: The country needs more doctorate-level nurse educators to teach increasing numbers of baccalaureate students if we’re ever to have 80 percent of our RN workforce equipped with a BSN education.

Job prospects for BSN graduates are fantastic, particularly in the South. Two-thirds of baccalaureateprepared nurses have a job offer by graduation day.

Health care leaders, hospitals, and nursing students themselves are pleading for more openings in BSN programs. Yet, with more than 52,000 qualified applicants turned away from entry-level baccalaureate nursing programs in 2012, our nation’s nursing schools don’t seem to be able to keep up. Mosley explains that, despite the nursing shortage and the need to supply nurses to the community, UAFS simply can’t meet the demands. “It’s hard to find enough faculty and to fill out the clinical nursing space to put those students in. That restriction is nationwide, it’s an obstacle just about every nursing school has to address,” she says. And she’s right: More than 60 percent of all nursing schools cite faculty vacancies and lack of clinical space as major obstacles to expanding their baccalaureate programs. At UAFS, approximately 200 baccalaureate nursing students need clinical placement each semester—and that doesn’t include the handful of associate degree students at the school as well. “We use every health care facility in the Fort Smith area. We have a relationship with all of Nursing student Amanda them and a representaSimmons checks simulated tive from each facility vital signs on one of the that serves on the School nursing lab manikins. of Nursing’s advisory board,” Mosley says. In addition, a portion of each student’s clinical hours is spent in a simulations lab, where they learn skills with hightech manikin patients. The school has 18 full-time nursing faculty and even more part-time adjunct faculty, and yet the number of qualified, interested prospective students far surpasses the number of available spots. “We can maybe add another 20 students, but it’s difficult,” says Mosley. For BSN graduates like McClain, the rewards are enormous: job security, good salaries and benefits, opportunities for advancement or further education—and a fulfilling career where their work makes a real, tangible difference in people’s lives. “I love the flexibility of being a nurse,” says McClain. “There are so many options and so many paths that you can choose. If I get tired of the NICU, I could do surgery or a clinic or be a school nurse. It’s an ever-changing, dynamic field. It doesn’t get stagnant. It changes, so you have to keep up. That’s one of the things that I like.” UAFS BELL TOWER

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87 days b y S A L LY A N N F L E C K E R

M .M .W., Ma rch 29 – June 23, 2011

The family releases balloons (right) to honor Miller’s memory on his birthday.



ON FIRST MEETING PATRICK WOODRUFF ’01 AND HIS WIFE MEREDITH, you might not suspect that they are quiet heroes. Like most heroes in our midst, they appear to be everyday people. Patrick is a big, strong teddy bear of a guy, with a thoughtful way about him. He played baseball at Westark College, where he earned an Associate of Arts in 2001, and also at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, where he earned a business management degree. In the deep blue eyes that he has passed down to his children, he has a twinkle. Meredith, who met Patrick in her senior year at UA, is vivacious with long, straight hair and deep dimples. She’s comfortable in a way that suggests no one she

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Miller McNeil Woodruff

was only with his family

for a brief time,

but his legacy lives on

as his parents turn

tragedy into possibility

and loss into hope

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saying, “I wish you would wiggle around more,” or, “Kick your meets remains a stranger for long. little legs.” Finally, Meredith confronted her mother: Did she Unless you inquire about the ball cap with the logo that think something was wrong? looks like five mountain peaks or the wristband that says “I’m “She said, ‘Well, I just wish he moved around more,’” rewith Miller,” what you won’t know immediately about Patrick members Meredith. Miller was three weeks old. and Meredith Woodruff is how much they know about heartOnce the concerns had been voiced, neither Patrick nor break. Meredith could brush them away. They took Miller to the The logo and wristband represent the Miller McNeil pediatrician that next day. Still, waiting for the doctor to come Woodruff Foundation, which the Woodruffs started not long in, Meredith felt silly. She was sure he would look at Miller and after they turned 30. At 30, it’s easy to be fully absorbed in tell them to be thankful for their “laid-back” baby. what’s right in front of you—developing a professional life, Only that’s not how things went. Even from the doorway, say, or beginning a family. Patrick is a bank vice president. the pediatrician could see someMeredith works as an account executive for a thing was wrong. He put his hand local television station. They’ve under Miller’s back. The baby lay started their family. Where and limp with his legs falling to either why do the Woodruffs find the side. The Woodruffs could read time to spearhead a foundation? the grave concern on his face as he The Miller McNeil Woodruff told them he was sending them Foundation’s purpose is to fund directly to the hospital for tests. research and support families They didn’t know yet what was affected by Spinal Muscular wrong, but they knew it wasn’t Atrophy—a neurodegenerative good. This was their first moment disease you’ve probably never in what would become a strange heard of. And yet it’s the number new world. one genetic killer of children under And yet, they adjusted. the age of 2. They spent a week at Arkansas In SMA, a vital gene—the Children’s Hospital in Little survival motor neuron gene—is Rock, where Miller underwent abnormal or missing. This gene is blood work, an MRI, an EKG, responsible for the production of l receives a donation of and a muscle biopsy. The a protein that keeps spinal motor Arkansas Children’s Hospita McNeil Woodruff Foundation week ground on in a wearying neurons healthy. Without it, they $100,000 raised by the Miller routine. Some of the tests, as die. In turn, voluntary muscles, in just over a year. well as Miller’s noticeable lack of muscle which are not getting signals from tone, pointed toward a muscular disease. The Woodruffs began the nerve cells, weaken and begin to waste away. There is no to get used to the idea that they would be raising a child who cure, only managing symptoms to keep complications at bay. would probably never walk. They had no more than reconciled themselves to that progONE IN 40 PEOPLE CARRIES THE SMA GENE. IF BOTH nosis, when they had to reach inside and find the grace to deal parents are carriers, their child has a 50 percent chance of with news worse than any parent should ever have to hear. becoming a carrier, but only a 25 percent chance of inheriting The fifth day in the hospital, Miller underwent an EMG, or two SMA genes and being affected by the disease. Which is no electromyography, to measure electrical activity between the comfort at all when your child is in that 25 percent. muscles and the nerve cells that control them. The Woodruffs The Woodruffs’ story begins with the March 2011 birth weren’t worried. The EMG seemed simply another test to rule of their second child, Miller McNeil Woodruff. Meredith had things out. Meredith remembers glancing out the window as blogged throughout her pregnancy, so the birth was anticipatMiller lay on the table, noticing dark clouds gathering, and ed not only by the family and 3-year-old brother Cole, but by thinking bad storms were coming. friends and virtual acquaintances far and wide. And, oh, Miller She had no idea how bad. was a sweet thing. That tender, indescribable baby scent. Ten Suddenly, the doctor wheeled around. She was sorry to tell tiny perfect fingers and ten perfect toes. Rosebud lips. Wide them, she said, getting straight to the point: Miller had Spinal and serious blue eyes. Muscular Atrophy. With what amounted to a flash flood of The family settled into the newborn routine. Meredith’s information, she explained how Miller’s muscles and nerves mother, a retired nurse, came to help. When she changed Millwere dying off. SMA Type 1 is the most severe form, appearing er’s diapers or dressed him, she would talk in a teasing voice, 26

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87 days M .M.W., March 29 – June 23, 2011


raising awareness, funding research, and offering support to within the first six months of life. Babies like Miller, she told other families faced with the challenge of SMA. Within seven them, don’t usually live to see their first birthday. months of Miller’s death, the foundation had received $40,000 “That hit hard and out of nowhere,” says Meredith. “Not in donations. through any of the process did it ever cross our minds that he “The foundation reassures us his life was full of purpose,” was going to die.” But even in that anguished moment, MerMeredith says. edith felt bad for the doctor, having to give parents such bad These days, they get to hear and say Miller’s name quite news. Later, she and Patrick would feel similar compassion for frequently. The five peaks on their baseball caps represent their parents, who were not only losing a grandchild, but who Miller’s monogram—MWM—with the Ms forming the two would have to watch their own children undergo a heart-rending loss. arms of the W. The catchphrase “I’m with Miller,” printed on wristbands, also “From that moment on,” Meredith serves as the name of their websays, “we knew all we could do was make site: They’ve sure whatever life Miller had was a good established an annual fundraiser, one.” Cupcakes & Cocktails, to celebrate The Woodruffs returned home with his March birthday. The fundraiser Miller to what they called their new has raised upwards of $180,000 each normal—an oxygen tank and compresyear and has been wildly, unexpectsor to help him breathe easier, a pulse edly popular. “We thought 250 people oximeter to measure the saturation of would be awesome,” says Patrick of oxygen in Miller’s hemoglobin, and a their initial ambition. By the time of suction machine to clear fluids and sethe first event, they had sold more cretions from his mouth and airways. than 800 tickets. Sponsors and donaIn babies with SMA Type 1, weakness tions keep the costs to a minimum. of the chest wall muscles makes it difNinety-nine percent of the money ficult to take a deep enough breath or the foundation raises goes to chariclear secretions with a cough, leaving ties, including Circle of Life Hospice, them vulnerable to pneumonia and Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and lung collapse. Families of SMA. In September 2012, As soon as they heard the news, the Woodruffs presented a $100,000 friends and family mobilized. Patcheck to the hospital to establish the rick’s parents were nearby. MerMiller McNeil Woodruff Endowment edith’s mother practically moved in. The Woodruff s during their for Neuromuscular Disorders to support Friends formed a “meal train.” brief time with Miller. clinical care, research, and education for “It was a revolving door,” says Patrick. affected children and families. For the rest of the spring, Meredith says, “We just hung out “Miller lived 87 days,” says Patrick. “But he’s still working with Miller. Everyone wanted to see him. My mom said it was his magic.” almost like he was holy.” The Woodruffs also do a balloon release each year privately Early in the morning of June 23, 2011, Miller died peacefully with Cole to celebrate Miller’s birthday. This year, though, the in his mother’s arms. “He lived too short a life, but a very good balloon release included a new baby sister, the healthy and life. He was never sick, and we never had to watch him suffer,” strong Mattie. Meredith wrote. His memorial service was June 28, on what “She’s been a blessing,” says Meredith. “She’s been able to would have been his three-month birthday. More than 750 heal our hearts in a way nothing else could have. She certainly people attended. hasn’t replaced Miller. There is no replacing, never will be, for The Woodruffs could have let themselves fall into a black him. But she’s renewed our spirits. hole of grief. Having Cole helped some—gave them a reason “We’re making our way through. It will be something to get out of bed in the morning. When she was pregnant with we live with for the rest of our lives. And I know that we’ll Cole, Meredith had a friend whose daughter was stillborn. have ups and downs forever,” adds Meredith. “Miller literally “My heart hurt for her that she wasn’t going to get to hear touched people of all ages across the entire country. How a tiny Mamie’s name called out,” she remembers. baby that just lived 87 days can do that is beyond me. That’s an This is one of the reasons they created the Miller McNeil angel. He had a purpose. He came with that, and he fulfilled it. Woodruff Foundation. It gave them a way to carry on Miller’s And he went on his way.” name and his legacy, as well as make a positive difference by UAFS BELL TOWER

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Alumni+Friends DROP US A LINE! Let us—and the people you went to school with—know what you’ve been up to! Please take a few minutes to sit down and tell us what’s been going on since your time at UAFS, 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, UAFS, P.O. Box 3649, Fort Smith, AR 72913. KAT WILSON ’96

A Fond Farewell


eginning any new project can be a daunting task, but having the right leader can make all the difference. The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith was fortunate to have Zack Thomas as the first executive editor for Bell Tower. Sadly, this issue is his last, as he moves on to new ventures as managing editor at the University of Central Florida Foundation. Zack came to UAFS in 2009 and literally started this magazine from scratch. Cover design, content, even the name itself were all a result of his efforts. He successfully navigated the political environs to create and lead editorial board meetings. He wrote a hefty share of the columns and features, took most of the photographs, managed the budget (quite successfully, in fact), and worked closely with designers and printers to see each issue through from start to finish. And regardless of how all that sounds, this is a drastic oversimplification of all that is involved. Zack was essentially a one-man team, but this was never evident in the publication. He was adept at finding partners and allies to help him produce a superior product. Bell Tower wasn’t Zack’s only responsibility, either. He was also responsible for the Foundation’s website, the Foundation’s newsletter Advances, the alumni e-newsletter Lion Lines, and the Foundation’s quarterly Personal Update newsletter. He also served as the speech-writer and coordinator for all Foundation donor events, groundbreakings, and new building dedications. We are grateful to Zack for his dedicated service to UAFS and its Foundation. He has allowed us to tell our story to alumni and friends both near and far. His writing and photography had a voice of its own, one that was engaging, interesting, and enjoyable, and quickly became the voice of Bell Tower itself. Beyond his technical skills, Zack was just a great guy to work with. Thanks, Zack, and best of luck in your future endeavors!




JoAnn Foster ’58 and Harry Foster ’58 will be moving into a retirement apartment in New Braunfels, Texas, in August. Harry will continue teaching Old Testament Studies at Texas Lutheran University while JoAnn enjoys her watercolor painting activities. The couple has four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Rev. Douglas K. Beasley ’79 married Jolene Rankin of Mulberry, Ark., on July 10, 1982. He was ordained in December 1988 and attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1995 to 1996. He has been a Southern Baptist Minister of Music for 33 years serving churches in Arkansas, North Carolina, and Oklahoma. He is currently the associate pastor/music/senior adults at Lake Village Baptist Church in Lake Village, Ark. In 2012 he helped charter the Iota Mu chapter of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity at UAFS. He writes, “I consider these fine young men the sons I never had.” Doug Carson ’76 graduated from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, law school, where he was the student works editor for the Arkansas Law review and was on faculty from 1982-84. He is celebrating his 30th year with Daily & Woods, PLLC, where he is a senior partner. Troy A. Hawkins ’70 earned his Bachelor of Architecture from UA Fayetteville in 1974. He moved to Tulsa, where he spent 14 years practicing architecture before

1960s Charles Cotten ’61 serves as director of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute on the University of Texas of the Permian Basin campus, where he helps develop leadership education programs for high school and college students. “I played baseball with Jim Jay, whom you just put in your Hall of Fame as a basketball player. He was a heck of a baseball player too,” he says. “We played under Coach Breedlove.” John R. Cross ’62 welcomed his second granddaughter, Finn Sehoke Cross, on March 3, 2013, joining his first granddaughter, 3-year-old Peyton Talise. He writes that both girls’ middles names are Seminole, Sehoke meaning “to stand up or stand for,” and Talise meaning “beautiful waters.”

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relocating to Florida, where he owned his own firm for 25 years. Hawkins retired in 2010 and still visits the Fort Smith and Fayetteville areas whenever he can. District Judge Wayland A. Parker II ’77 retired on Jan. 1, 2013, after serving 22 years on the bench. He has now joined Walters, Gaston, Allison & Parker, Attorneys at Law, in Greenwood, Ark.


1990s Joann Erwin ’90 received her bachelor’s degree in health care administration in 2000. She is

2000s Karen Armstrong ’08 will be starting her fifth year as a high school special education teacher at Spiro High School in Oklahoma this August. Christine (Ales) Heaps ’02 completed her Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in 2005. She immediately moved to the Phoenix area, where she works as a music therapist for children with disabilities and operates her own business, Heaps Music Studio. Christine married Joshua Heaps on March 12, 2011.

Charlotte Henry ’07 received a Master of Science in Counseling at Mid-American Christian University in Moore, Okla., in 2010. She is currently employed as a case manager for LINC Works, which partners with Full Employment Council and the DSS Division of Family Services in Kansas City, Mo., and is studying for the National Counselor Exam. She writes that her long-range goal is to become director of her own nonprofit organization, while her short-range goals include buying a new home and adopting a sibling group.

Erin Hetherington ’07 and Jeff Willis ’07 were married in September 2010 at Esperanza Mansion in Keuka Park, N.Y. Erica (Bray) Hutchison ’01 received a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Arkansas in 2006. She is a licensed professional counselor and registered play therapist, and recently opened a private practice in Fort Smith. Playful Path Counseling, LLC, specializes in play therapy for children, adolescents, and families.

IN MEMORIAM Dr. Anna Kasten Nelson ’52 attended Fort Smith Junior College for two years after high school. Her time here was short, but it was a starting point for the distinguished work she would go on to do after she graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1954 and received her master’s. Nelson’s education didn’t stop there; she would earn her doctorate in history from George Washington University. After earning her doctorate, Nelson was appointed to the National Study Commission for the Papers of Congress, which would become one of her numerous appointments and accomplishments. Nelson is most known for her efforts and work to declassify government records that she saw as sources of our nation’s history. She had many opportunities to fight for the cause – serving on the advisory committee for the State Department’s publications department, sitting on the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board after an appointment from President Bill Clinton, and testifying before Congress multiple times on freedom-of-information practices and principles. In 2009, Nelson’s continuous efforts were rewarded with a lifetime award from the American Historical Association. Before her death on Sept. 27, 2012, Nelson served as Distinguished Historian in Residence at American University. The editors of the 1951 Numa wrote of Anna, then Anne, saying, “Anne will be remembered most for her pleasant smile and her willingness to help.” Her life’s work is an example of her willingness to help, and we will remember her life and legacy for years to come.


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Lori (Loum) Patten ’88 has lived in the Tulsa/Bixby, Okla., area since 1990. She is the charge nurse in the post-anesthesia care unit recovery room at St. John Broken Arrow (Okla.). She holds national certification as a Certified Perianesthesia Nurse and was recently awarded the Perianesthesia Excellence in Clinical Practice Award for the state of Oklahoma. She has been married for more than 21 years and has two children ages 18 and 9. Melissa Myers Sudbery ’83–’85 transferred from Westark to University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where she received degrees in Spanish and English. Melissa remembers her first Spanish teacher at Westark, Nancy Zechedrich: “She made learning the language interesting and fun,” she says. After graduating from UALR, she went to work at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Medical Library before becoming a Spanish teacher at John L. McClellan High School in Little Rock in 1995. Melissa and her husband, William “Bill” Sudbury, currently reside in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., where she teaches at the high school.

contracted with the U.S. Department of Labor as a field nurse for the workers compensation program working with injured federal employees in Northeast Oklahoma. Her career as a registered nurse has included medical/surgical, psych, home health, hospice, extended care management, and case management. She writes, “At present, retirement is not in my plans because I continue to be fulfilled utilizing the degree that I received there many years ago.” Maurice Jeffers ’99 graduated from Saint Louis University in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He has played 11 seasons as a professional basketball player overseas— competing in Spain, Germany, Switzerland and Argentina. He currently resides in St. Louis, Mo., with his wife and daughter. Tom Turner ’91 has been married for 17 years and has four children. He is employed by Oxane materials in Van Buren as an operation manager.


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Alumni+Friends Friends ‘Through Diligence to Victory’ Each year countless people contribute their efforts, time, vision, and financial support to continue helping UAFS grow in greatness. And as the University grows, so does the number of quality alumni who, upon graduation, continue to represent the University as ambassadors throughout the community, state, and country. In 2010 the UAFS Alumni Association began officially recognizing these outstanding individuals with the Diligence to Victory Award, the highest alumni honor bestowed by the University. This honor gets its name from the motto of the first class at Fort Smith Junior College—“Through diligence to victory.” Recipients are alumni who have distinguished themselves through service to their community, state, or nation, or whose outstanding leadership in their business or professional lives exemplifies this motto. More than anything, the Diligence to Victory Award is a way to recognize those who quietly and humbly dedicate their success to UAFS and seek to pass their success on to future UAFS alumni. Previous recipients include Randy Wewers ’58, former UAFS Foundation Board member and creator of the Lucille Speakman Legacy Endowment for UAFS faculty; Peggy Raynor Weidman ’73, UAFS Board of Visitors chair and charter member of the Chancellor’s Coalition for the Visual Arts; and Stacey Jones ’71, associate vice chancellor for campus and community events. —Jessica Martin ’10.

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS Do you know a past student who has developed a continuing relationship with the University? Does this person stay involved with UAFS by volunteering their time, attending events, or contributing financial support? Has this person had a successful career marked by significant personal achievement? Does this person show dedicated and unwavering devotion to UAFS? Then you may know the recipient of the 2013 Diligence to Victory Award. If you know someone who fits the profile, please take the time to fill out a nomination form. The 2013 Diligence to Victory Award will be presented during Homecoming Week at the Alumni Dinner Nov. 9. For more information on award nominations, and for ticket information for the alumni dinner, please contact the Alumni Office at 877-303-8237 or alumni@uafs. edu. Nomination forms and a complete list of other Homecoming events are available on the website,


Kristin (LaMar) Jones ’07 and Jacob Jones ’07 reside in Tahlequah, Okla., where Jacob is pastor of Southside Baptist Church. Kristin, who taught in elementary schools after receiving her degree, is currently a stay-at-home mom for their two children. Katie (Schluterman) Kratzberg ’07 and her husband A.J. welcomed baby girl Allie Kate on Dec. 29, 2012. She weighed 7 pounds, 11 ounces, and was 21 inches long. Jason Neal ’08 graduated from Southern California University of Health Sciences in April 2013 and is currently a chiropractor at Balkman Chiropractic Clinic in Fort Smith. Lacey Neissl ’08 married Joshua Clark on August 4, 2012, in Charleston, Ark. She now works as a consumer loan officer at Arvest Bank and serves as the newly elected justice of the peace for District 9 in Franklin County.

2010s Jeremy Brown ’10 and Heather Merrill Brown ’10 welcomed son Landon Russell on June 23, 2012. He was 7 pounds, 2 ounces, and 21 inches long. Jeremy is currently a senior accountant at Arkansas Best Inc. Poetry by Alexis Coleman ’12 was published in the spring 2013 issue of Boston’s North American Review. Ashley Ann Eubanks ’10 completed a master’s degree in English with teaching English as a second language through Arkansas Tech University. In August 2012 she accepted a position as a visiting lecturer with ATU’s College of English and World Languages,

which she plans to continue to hold while pursuing a second master’s degree in multimedia journalism. She currently resides in Russellville and gave birth to her third child in February 2013. Aundrea Hanna ’13 has been accepted into the University of Arkansas School of Law. “As a non-traditional student with five children, I did not have the option of moving away and focusing all of my time on higher education,” she writes. “[The] University of Arkansas - Fort Smith was an obvious choice, and with criminal justice as the fastest-growing program on campus, it was the best decision I have ever made.” Valerie A. Kearney ’12 has accepted a job working for the IT department of Family and Children’s Services in Tulsa. Katie Kidwell ’12 accepted a position in corporate sales at USA Truck after graduating from UAFS. Recently, she has taken on the position as chair of public relations for the Junior League of Fort Smith, and she says she hopes to be able to help increase the Junior League’s involvement on the UAFS campus. Courtney Kitterman ’12 joined roughly 3,000 other artists to have her work displayed in New York City at the Art Takes Times Square event. She has also started Kitterman Design, creating custom drawings, paintings and photography. She writes that she has been researching graduate art schools and is planning to attend within the next two years. William Tyler Lamon ’11 and Angela Marie Norris ’11 were married Aug. 25, 2012, in Fort Smith.

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‘Never Stop Spinning’


Laurence Luckinbill ’52 has acted on Broadway, appeared in major motion pictures, and married into American entertainment royalty. And he wants people in his home state to know something. “Tell everybody I’m extremely proud of being from Arkansas and being from Fort Smith,” he said. “It was a green, wonderful, magical place to live.” After high school, Luckinbill enrolled at FSJC, “which was under the grandstand at the stadium at Northside High School,” he noted. “There were maybe 100 students and not too many teachers, but great teachers.” Afterwards he transferred to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville as a sophomore and entered the pre-med program— whereupon he “flunked every single course.” A chemistry professor, noting how he kept everyone in class entertained, was the first person to recommend he study performing arts. He switched majors, crammed in every speech and drama course he could, and breezed to his degree in 1955, quickly settling into life on stage and in film. He’s still acting at 78, primarily in a series of one-man shows about great Americans: Clarence Darrow, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ernest Hemingway, to name a few. His film appearances include “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier,” in which he played the Vulcan Sybok, brother of Spock. And he won an Emmy for writing and producing NBC’s “Lucy and Desi: A Home Movie”—which, as it happens, is

about his in-laws. For the past 33 years, Luckinbill has been married to Lucie Arnaz. “Here was this vital woman who just blew my socks right into my ears,” he said. “It was friendship, then quite suddenly it wasn’t, and we got married within about a year-and-change of meeting each other.” The couple have three children together (plus his two from a previous marriage), they’ve shared the stage, and he calls her the greatest woman he’s ever known. “We never stop spinning,” Luckinbill said. “Absolutely the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me was having a family like this.” —Eric Francis

Save the Date . November 8-9, 2013 n a land far, far away (Fort Smith) there is a King (Numa) who rules a kingdom of 40,000 alumni! Every year the alumni return to his castle (UAFS) for a concert, parade, tailgate, dinner, basketball games, and so much more ...

Register at or call 479.788.7920. UAFS BELL TOWER

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Alumni+Friends PARA.STYLE “HEAD 1”

NEW EMAIL! As the final step of a complete website overhaul that began in August 2011, all UAFS emails are now required to be in the format Still having trouble reaching us? You can always send your emails to, give us a call at 877-303-8237, or stop by and visit with us in the Alumni Office on the corner of Waldron and Kinkead. Or, if you’re feeling particularly old fashioned, send us a letter to UAFS Alumni, 5210 Grand Ave., PO Box 3649, Fort Smith, AR 72913-3649.


Justin Huss prepares to make his rounds at Lake Frierson State Park.


Steven Minks ’10 has married and welcomed a baby girl named Savanna since graduating from UAFS. He has completed his first year of law school at the Mississippi College School of Law and was recently sworn in to the limited practice of law in Mississippi. He represents children in juvenile delinquency cases in the Youth Court of Rankin County, Miss. Brock Peters ’12 moved to Fort Worth, Texas, in the summer of 2012 to take a financial adviser position with Merrill Lynch. Natalie Sly ’11 is currently working for Sparks Behavioral Health in Fort Smith. Edwin Terrell Washington ’11 graduated May 10, 2013, from Arkansas Tech University with a Master of Science in college student personnel. He married Starkicia Wilkerson on June 8, 2013. Brennan Will ’10 and Elizabeth Will ’10 recently welcomed their third child, Grace Christine. She joins brothers Braeden Michael, 4, and James Douglas, 1. The family lives in Oklahoma City, where Brennan teaches geometry at Santa Fe South Charter High School.


Preserving a Lasting Legacy What do you do with a degree in historical interpretation? Plenty, if you’re Justin Huss ’08, who is the superintendent at Lake Frierson State Park in Jonesboro, Ark. That’s a degree that took him seven years to earn as a non-traditional student because, as he jokes, “I was on the delayed entry/extended stay program.” At the time, UAFS was bringing the Drennen-Scott Historic Site back to life. “The house was just sold to the University,” Huss recalls. “We had classes there. We moved artifacts and got to dig through these great discoveries. I learned about the family and gained real-world experience.” Moving from student to park superintendent took a few steps. As part of the Arkansas State Parks superintendent trainee program “I bounced around the state to different parks. After 17 months, I got the supervisor position at Lake Frierson. The year I applied, I was competing with 360 other people for 18 positions!” Huss is currently overseeing a major park improvement: the construction of a new trail. With volunteer help, he is working to expand a short trail to 2 ½ miles of hiking and mountain biking fun. As keeper of one of Arkansas’ natural resources, Huss also educates park visitors to be better stewards. He hopes they will connect with the natural beauty of the park instead of wondering, ‘So what? Why should I care?’ As the only uniformed person at the park, Huss has a big job to do. All of it, even pushing paper or unclogging toilets, is worth it to him. “Arkansas has one of the best state park systems in the country,” he says. “I’m proud to be a part of it and enjoy managing the resource. We’re in the forever business. The work we do today will be here long after we’re gone. —Jaime Hebert

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A lot more went into this photo than it may seem at first. During the second annual Alumni Easter Egg Hunt, March 24, 2-year-old Reed Cates was focused strictly on finding enough eggs to fill not only his basket, but also a basket for his 1-yearold sister, Allison. Normally described as a cutup by parents Misty and Ben Cates, Reed seemed a little too preoccupied with egg hunting to take a photo with Numa and the Easter Bunny. As the event started winding down and all the other children (about 100 in attendance) finished getting their photos, Reed’s family wanted to make sure he got one, too. But this egg hunter was not so sure about the large costumed lion and rabbit waiting for him to say “cheese.” After about 10 minutes of coaxing, coercing, and begging, the family finally got him close enough to compose a decent photo. Persuading him to look in the direction of the camera, however, was another hurdle. Finally the photographer found Reed’s code word: flashlight. That got him to look at the camera just long enough to snap the shutter. So in the end, Reed took home two hard-won baskets of goody-filled eggs to share with his sister, and his family got a one-ofa-kind photo of their uncharacteristically serious clown. —Jessica Martin ’10


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Bell Tower

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


A Look Back

Lack of parking is usually an issue for most campuses, but that doesn’t seem to have been the case here in 1980. Located literally in the center of campus, this lot allowed students a quick walk to almost any building at Westark. This photo looks south from the center of campus and illustrates just how much the campus landscape has changed over the past 30-plus years. A look from the same spot today would show a much different picture. In place of a solid bank of trees, the Baldor Technology Center was built across Kinkead Avenue in 2000. And before that, this parking lot was wiped out to create the green, including the campus gates,

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brick walkways, flowerbeds, and of course, the iconic bell tower. Today UAFS is widely known for its verdant grounds and manicured landscapes, which make for a picturesque if slightly longer walk from parking lot to classroom. Do you have any photos or memories of your favorite spots on campus that may no longer be recognizable today? We’d love to share them in an upcoming issue. We’d also appreciate your thoughts about the magazine, responses to stories, and ideas for future articles. Drop us a line at or Bell Tower Magazine, P.O. Box 3649, Fort Smith, AR 72913.

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UAFS Bell Tower Magazine  

Summer 2013

UAFS Bell Tower Magazine  

Summer 2013