University of the Ozarks is extending Spring Break and cancelling all classes, effective immediately, for the next two weeks to best protect students and the broader community in response to risks associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Classes will resume on Monday, March 30, in an all-online method of delivery and continue online for the remainder of the semester, University President Richard Dunsworth announced on Friday.
The University will remain open and most student services, including housing, dining and academic support, will continue to be provided for students who choose to remain on campus. All campus events, including intercollegiate athletic competitions, concerts and theatre performances, have also been cancelled.
While there are no confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 on the U of O campus, the move to transition to an all-online format and cancel on-campus events allows the University to implement “social distancing” protocols that are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to minimize the spread of the virus.
“The last few days and weeks have been unlike anything any of us have ever seen,” Dunsworth said. “The fluidity of the situation and the pace at which the environment is changing is creating an ever-growing sense of angst and worry. However, this University has an incredible legacy of navigating through uncharted waters and difficult times and I am certain that our core Christian values, such as service, hospitality and justice, will help guide us through these trying times.”
Dunsworth said the University will spend next week preparing faculty and students for the transition from face-to-face teaching to virtual instruction.
“One of the greatest strengths of our University is the tight-knit and supportive community that we have all come to rely on,” he said. “While this situation presents many unique and serious challenges, we are confident that this collective spirit of collaboration and support will elevate us as we navigate the coming days and weeks.”
University of the Ozarks has once again been featured in multiple categories in U.S. News & World Report’s annual college rankings.
In its 2020 edition of Best Colleges, released this week, U of O ranked 7th overall among more than 80 regional colleges in the South — the 21st consecutive year Ozarks has been ranked in the “top tier” among regional colleges in the South.
Ozarks has been ranked among the top 10 in the 12-state South Region in each of the past nine seasons. The overall rankings examine such criteria as academic reputation, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.
In addition, Ozarks ranked 19th among the “Best Value Schools” in the South. The value rankings evaluate the cost of attending a university relative to the quality of the institution and takes into account such things as the percentage of students receiving need-based financial aid and the average institutional aid those students receive.
“These rankings continue to confirm that University of the Ozarks is providing a high-quality, personalized and innovative education at a great price,” said President Richard Dunsworth. “We remain committed to controlling costs and limiting student debt while fulfilling the mission of the University.”
The magazine’s annual late summer publication that analyzes institutions of higher education also had U of O ranked No. 1 in the South Region in the category of “Most International Students,” with 21% percent. The University was also ranked 25th in the South in the category of “Campus Ethnic Diversity.”
The publication’s South Region consists of primarily undergraduate colleges and universities in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia.Dody Pelts has been named as the new director of the Jones Learning Center at University of the Ozarks, effective July 1 Pelts has worked in the JLC for the past 18 years, including the last 12 as the center’s assistant director. She replaces Julia Frost, who announced her retirement in April after serving the past 25 years as the director. “I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to serve Ozarks and the JLC,” Pelts said. “By building upon her rich history and sturdy foundation crafted by many dedicated professionals who served before me, the JLC is well-prepared to launch into the future.” Pelts, who has also served as the JLC’s school psychology specialist, said that unemployment and underemployment for students with learning disabilities, specifically for those impacted by social skills challenges, will be an area of emphasis for the JLC staff. “Helping graduates gain skills beyond those of the classroom to obtain meaningful employment will be a focus of our efforts to support students as they seek to truly live life fully,” she said. Pelts worked as the school psychology specialist for the Dover Public Schools in Dover, Arkansas, before coming to Ozarks in 2001 as the school psychology specialist. She started teaching developmental classes in the JLC a few years later and was named assistant director in 2007. Pelts has presented at various state and national level learning disability association conferences and is a nationally certified school psychologist, a psychological examiner, and a certified school psychology specialist in Arkansas. She is married to Jeremy and has two children: Macy, who will be a freshman at Ozarks in the fall, and Ike, a senior at Lamar High School. “I am delighted that Dody will be taking on the new role of director of the Jones Learning Center,” said University Provost Dr. Alyson Gill. “I know that the JLC will continue to grow under her leadership and she brings with her new ideas that I am excited to explore with the group. I look forward to working with her as we think about how best to use this incredible resource.” Frost has served as the director of the JLC since 1994. Her 30 years in the JLC included a stint as director of assessment from 1986-91. “It has been a joy to work with Dody as the JLC assistant director for the past 12 years and to watch her become a highly respected colleague not only in the JLC, but also campus wide,” Frost said. “I am confident in her leadership abilities as she builds on the JLC past successes and looks forward with a new vision for its future.” The Jones Learning Center is a comprehensive support program for students with documented learning disabilities, Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with average or above average intellectual abilities. It was established at U of O in 1971 as one of the first of its kind in the country. University of the Ozarks officials are reimagining the campus bookstore in order to streamline the learning materials process, provide expanded inventory and offer additional programming. The University will take over management of the campus store beginning this summer. Valerie Hardesty will continue as the manager of the store and it will be housed under the University’s Office of Enrollment and Marketing. Though the campus store will not change its physical location, there are numerous changes planned to enhance the student experience, beginning in the Fall 2019 Semester. “With the University managing the campus store, we believe we can make the distribution of books and learning materials much easier and more efficient,” said Reggie Hill, vice president for enrollment and marketing. “We will also be able to provide more diversity in apparel and other items and we can offer new programs and events. It will enhance the entire student-campus store engagement.” One of the major enhancements includes a partnership with eCampus as the University’s new textbook provider through their ALL Access learning materials program. Under this program, students will be provided with all of their course materials a week before classes begin each term. An annual learning materials fee ($1,000) will cover the cost of all course materials, including books, access to online learning platforms (when added by faculty), open-educational resources and all course fees, with the exception of individual music lessons. “We are excited to partner with eCampus to bring digital and print course materials, access to online learning platforms, and open-educational resources to our students in the fall,” said Alyson Gill, University provost. “Students will also have the ability to choose their preferred text format and have it delivered in print or digitally as a rental. This program not only underscores our commitment to accessibility, it also lowers costs for our students and ensures that they have the materials that they need on the first day of class.” Under eCampus’ All Access program, once students register, the course materials will be reserved and individually packaged for each student based on their schedule. Students will then pick up all materials before the first day of class in the campus store. By providing course materials ahead of the first day of class, students will be better positioned to succeed while the costs of materials are decreased. eCampus will also simplify the return process by setting up a pop-up return station at the end of the semester where students can return their books. “We are streamlining the learning experience at Ozarks as we bring textbook delivery or the learning materials themselves directly to the iPads that the students use through our Compass learning initiative,” Gill said. Hill said that University also plans to take advantage of the campus store’s proximity to Campus Perks, the adjacent coffee shop. “We want the store to have a seamless integration with Campus Perks and offer events like author talks, community-based book readings with local school children and open-mic type events,” Hill said. “We want it to be a place where the campus and Clarksville communities can come, have coffee and listen to authors, poets and other speakers.” In addition, the campus store is expected to offer a wider variety of clothing, accessories and other items, according to Amy Lloyd, director of marketing. “We will have more control over what we can carry and that will lead to more options and diversity in apparel,” said Lloyd. “We will have both local and national brands that we haven’t been able to offer before. We will also have a wider selection of books beyond those that are required for classes.” Lloyd said the new campus store will most likely be renamed and undergo a rebranding initiative this summer.The University of the Ozarks’ Student Success Center and Student Support Services honored both graduating seniors and outstanding tutors during its 2019 Tutor Awards and Graduation Celebration on April 30, 2019. Tutor awards were given based on several factors, including evaluations from students receiving tutoring, GPAs, and staff members’ interactions and observations. During the fall semester alone, over 1,500 tutoring hours were provided. Over the course of the academic year, 86 tutors were hired and trained. During the celebration, Trio Student Support Services also honored 32 students slated to graduate. These academic support programs are staffed by, Connie High, director; Kimberly Spicer, program specialist; Lauren Gentry, advisor and skills coach; Charmaine Hutchinson, administrative coordinator; Vanessa Hollowell, academic coordinator; and Ashley Bryant, office manager. Brenda Sandoval, a senior international business and history major from Guatemala City, Guatemala, was selected as overall tutor of the year. The tutors who were recognized included (pictured, front row, from left) Sandoval; Maria Corea, writing tutor of the year; Feri Hernandez, science tutor of the year in chemistry; Shelby Morales, psychology tutor of the year; (back row, from left) Ohany Roman, business tutor of the year in accounting; Anicka Wilcox, humanities tutor of the year; Petron Brown, science tutor of the year in natural science; Georgia Warren, business tutor of the year in accounting; and Isaac Julio, math tutor of the year. Those not pictured included, Brooklyn Keeling, political science tutor of the year; Yeimy Rodriguez, political science tutor of the year; Elodie Jabouin, psychology tutor of the year; and Laura Gochez, Spanish tutor of the year. After three decades as a champion and advocate for students with learning disabilities, Julia Frost is retiring as the director of the Jones Learning Center at University of the Ozarks. Frost, who has served as the director of the JLC since 1994, recently informed U of O officials that she will retire this June. Her 30 years in the JLC included a stint as director of assessment from 1986-91. “I am extremely fortunate that for the majority of my career I have had a job that I consider to be my calling,” Frost said. “It has been such a blessing to be involved in the lives of college students with disabilities and their families at such a pivotal time in their lives. Watching scared freshmen with little self-confidence grow into college graduates who are ready to take on the world has been a joy beyond any I could have imagined in my life’s work.” Frost said she will miss working with her colleagues and students in the JLC. “I have had the privilege of working with JLC staff members who are dedicated, compassionate and skilled in working with our population of students,” she said. “Our students become a part of our JLC family, and they remain so even when they leave Ozarks. I am confident that will be the case for me as well.” University Provost Dr. Alyson Gill thanked Frost for her commitment to Ozarks and its students. “Program directors don’t often have the luxury of sowing organizational seeds, watching them grow, and then seeing their impact over the years. Julia has been able to do just that in her 25 years as the director of the JLC,” Gill said. “Julia has positively impacted hundreds of students through her work in providing a nurturing, supportive environment in which to serve students with learning differences. Thanks to Julia and her staff’s efforts, the JLC will continue to play a key role for years to come in assisting students who learn differently. I am grateful for her enduring commitment to our students and to the University community as a whole. She will be missed greatly and we wish her well in retirement.” Frost, who was the recipient of the University’s Alvin C. Broyles Outstanding Staff Award in 1995, said she had been considering retirement for the past couple of years and felt the timing was right. “It is bittersweet to announce my retirement,” Frost said. “Besides the JLC staff and students, there are many, many staff and faculty across campus that I have loved having in my life since I began working here and who will continue to be dear to me in retirement. John and I are planning to continue to live in Clarksville, and while we are planning to travel, we plan to be back on campus for special events.” Frost worked eight years as a school psychologist in Arkansas public schools and two years as a music and English teacher. She has served as the president of the Arkansas School Psychology Association and as a board member for the Arkansas Association for Higher Education and Disability. She served for two years on the Adult Topics Committee of the Learning Disabilities Association of America and has been its chair for the past five years. She is a nationally certified school psychologist and frequently presented at both state and national conferences. Frost and her husband, John, have three adult children. The Jones Learning Center is a comprehensive support program for students with documented learning disabilities, Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with average or above average intellectual abilities. It was established at U of O in 1971 as one of the first of its kind in the country. Julia Frost, director of the University of the Ozarks’ Jones Learning Center, will make a presentation at the Learning Disabilities Association of America’s annual conference in Fort Worth, Texas, on Feb. 20. Frost’s presentation will be titled, “Transitioning to Employment for Adults with Learning Disabilities.” Frost will lead the full-morning workshop with a disability service provider from another institution and two successful adults who have learning disabilities. One of those adults is Eric McGehearty, an Ozarks alumnus who will also serve as the Adult Luncheon speaker following the workshop. The conference brochure describes the presentation this way: “The transition from an educational setting to employment can be one of the most challenging transitions for anyone, but when you have a learning disability, the challenges are often multiplied. This panel, made up of two adults with learning disabilities and two college disability program directors, will focus on effectively preparing for this transition, what challenges to be prepared for, and how to meet these challenges in a manner that will result in successful long term employment. Also covered will be understanding the laws that cover employment, disclosing the disability, exploring assistive technology, and learning effective self-advocacy skills.” “During this workshop, you will hear from two individuals who have had to decide whether to disclose their learning disabilities to their employers, why they made the decisions that they did, and how they chose to proceed. They will also share compensatory strategies they developed to enable their employers to assist them in implementing effective, reasonable accommodations so that they could succeed at work and life. You will also hear from two college disability program directors who have seen their former students experience both success and failure in the world of work. From their experiences, they will share what strategies the students who were successful used and suggest what steps others might take to reach the same success. If you are an adult with LD or if you work with or parent of an adult with LD, this session will help you to make this transition a much smoother one.” For more information on the services of the Jones Learning Center, please contact Frost at 479-979-1401 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Monica Frizzell has been named the new registrar at University of the Ozarks, effective Jan. 2. A 2002 graduate of Ozarks, Frizzell has served in the Registrar’s Office for more than 15 years, including 11 years as assistant registrar. “I am very excited about Monica stepping into the role of registrar,” said Jeff Scaccia, vice president for finance and administration. “She brings considerable experience working in the Registrar’s Office and is very familiar with the requirements and responsibilities of the position. Her background will also give her insight into where improvements may be made to better the student experience and to continue improving operational efficiency for the office and how it interacts with the rest of the campus.” Frizzell worked in the Registrar’s Office from 2001 to 2005 and served as assistant registrar from 2005 to 2014 before leaving the University in 2014. She returned in 2017 as assistant registrar. She also previously worked as the office manager in the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts from 2000 to 2001. She replaces Wilma Harris, who retired in December. “I have had the pleasure of serving students, faculty and staff at Ozarks for many years in the Registrar’s Office and I’m excited for the opportunity to continue to serve the campus as registrar,” Frizzell said. “I look forward to continuing to help students achieve their degrees and to see them succeed.” The Registrar’s Office maintains the official repository of student enrollment, registration and academic records of current and formerly enrolled students. It is responsible for registering U of O students, reporting grade information and maintaining academic records. The office is responsible for maintaining an accurate schedule of courses and provides assistance to students with name and address changes, enrollment certifications, registration, schedule adjustments after the drop/add period and graduation. Frizzell and her husband, Jeff, live in Clarksville and have one daughter, Abby. Julia Frost, director of the University of the Ozarks’ Jones Learning Center, will be making presentations at national conferences in Los Angeles and St. Louis during the month of November. On Nov. 7-9, Frost will be attending the Independent Educational Consultants’ Association (IECA) conference in Los Angeles. She will be part of a panel presentation on Nov. 7 titled, “Post-Secondary Options for Students with LD/ADHD/ASD.” The conference will include representatives of diverse educational models from various locations throughout the United States who will provide an overview of their university and the comprehensive support provided at each institution. In addition, a diplomat from Eye to Eye National will discuss how a young person with LD/ADHD can create a chain of confidence in different learners that could change the world. Frost will also have a table at the conference’s College and School Fair on Nov. 8. On Nov. 9-11, Frost will be attending the 2018 Annual International Conference on ADHD in St. Louis. She will make a presentation titled, “Life After High School – Is There Really Another Option,” with a colleague from Brehm Preparatory School in Illinois. She will also be a part of a panel presentation titled, “Tribe Time.” Her portion of that workshop will be “How to Flunk Out of College Even if You’re Really Smart.” An Ozarks alumnus, Mark Schneider, will also be a part of the panel presentation. He will talk about learning to manage AD/HD symptoms in college and beyond. The title of his portion is “Party! Party! Party!” For more information on these presentations or the Jones Learning Center, please contact Frost at 479-979-1401 or email@example.com. University of the Ozarks has launched a campus-wide digital learning initiative that will support and enhance teaching and learning by providing every student and faculty member with an Apple iPad. Compass is a comprehensive student-success program that will provide universal access to a common set of learning technologies. As part of the initiative, the University has collaborated with Apple to distribute nearly 1,000 Apple iPad devices, Apple pencils and smart keyboards to its students and faculty. Most of the students, including almost 300 incoming freshmen, received their iPad on Monday, Aug. 20, the day before classes begin for the Fall 2018 Semester. A majority of the faculty, as well as about 70 students, received their iPad in the spring, during the first phase of the program rollout. “We believe Compass will transform the teaching and learning experience at Ozarks by creating a dynamic and integrated environment of innovation, creativity and discovery,” said University President Richard Dunsworth. “Students will be able to access content in a way that supports their personal learning style and it will increase accessibility for all of our students.” The iPad devices will be used by the approximately 880 full-time students and 100 faculty and staff, including adjunct faculty, administrators and athletic coaches. The University has invested $1.3 million in the Compass initiative, which includes training seminars, equipment such as Wi-Fi-connected Apple TVs in classrooms and an enhanced wireless infrastructure for greater bandwidths and faster internet speeds. The current students will not incur additional costs to participate in the Compass program and officials believe that future costs of the technology will be more than offset by decreasing the amount students pay for traditional textbooks and other material. “The bottom line is that Compass will allow us to lower the direct costs students pay to attend college,” Dunsworth said. “This is especially important as the University seeks to control, and in some cases decrease, the cost of attendance while also improving the educational experience.” The students will be able to keep their iPad if they complete six semesters at Ozarks. Upper class students who will graduate before the six-semester limit will have the option to purchase the iPad at a reduced cost. Dr. Alyson Gill, provost at the University whose office coordinated the development and implementation of the program, said Compass “promotes an active learning environment in which students and faculty engage with the material and each other both inside and outside the classroom.” “We’re effectively creating a classroom without walls,” Gill said. “Compass will be a key driver as we support this pedagogical practice in which we move towards a student-centered learning model where students are actively involved in creating content for their courses and engaging with each other and their curriculum.” Dr. Caleb J. Keith, assistant provost for institutional effectiveness and strategic priorities, said Compass ties into the University’s mission and core values. “Compass seeks to create equity for students at University of the Ozarks by providing all learners with technology in the classroom,” Keith said. “As opposed to the typical bring-your-own-device initiatives on many campuses, this program will ensure that all students have access to the same level of technology, irrespective of socioeconomic or financial background. This essentially evens the playing field for all learners, meaning everyone starts the race from the same starting line. This has a direct connection to the University's core value of justice, as it focuses on economic justice. Additionally, there is a connection to the University's mission to accept students from diverse economic backgrounds and prepare them to live life fully.” On a campus where approximately 40 percent of the students are eligible for federal grants, Keith said lowering the cost of attendance was a major driving force in the Compass initiative. “Students will no longer have to purchases five or six traditional hard-copy textbooks or a computer,” Keith said. “By utilizing open education resources (OER) and digital texts, we can actually decrease the cost students pay for course materials. However, in order to do so, all students need access to reliable technology that will allow them to engage with these resources, and that’s what Compass allows us to do.” Dr. Amy Oatis, associate professor of English and a member of the Compass steering committee, was one of the professors who used the iPad in the spring—for her academic writing course. “Faculty members are extremely excited about this program,” Oatis said. “We still use a traditional writing manual in our academic writing courses, but our digital text allows students four years of online access to an updated style guide for less than the price of a print book that students might keep for only one semester. I saw students’ engagement and creativity increase through the use of the iPad that I didn’t see in my other classes that didn’t have the devices. The convenience, efficiency and effectiveness of the technology in the classroom helps eliminate barriers and allows professors to do what they do best—build relationships with students. It allows us to be 21st Century teachers.” Oatis said she was particularly surprised about how Compass has fostered and promoted collaboration between students. “Everyone having the same equipment really facilitated peer sharing and collaboration,” Oatis said. “There was a lot of spontaneous collaboration between the students as well as between the students and faculty that was surprising. It actually enhanced communications and team-work because it is so easy to share files and projects or just comments.” Susan Edens, assistant professor of practice of communication and advisor for the University radio and TV stations, said she is looking forward to using the technology in her classrooms in the fall. “If a professor encounters something that they think will illustrate a point in class they can capture the image or the event and easily prepare it for distribution by email, drive, or Air Drop,” Edens said. “I plan to Air Drop exercises to students as they come into class, have radio production students using their iPad to record audio essays and as a transmission and mixing device for live remotes and have my students in media law and ethics listen to the landmark decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court and read the summaries.” Officials said there will be several training and workshop opportunities for faculty and staff throughout the school year, including a weekly noon event at the on-campus coffee shop that Oatis coordinates called Appy Hour. “We wanted a place where students, faculty and staff could come together and share stories, best practices or their favorite educational apps,” Oatis said. “We started Appy Hour in the spring and it was really well-received by the entire campus community. I love how students and faculty who might not normally encounter each other are able to collaborate. Everyone is excited about the opportunities and possibilities that are out there. They really are limitless.”