Helms team wins U of O Golf Tournament

Helms team wins U of O Golf Tournament

The father-son duo of Kyle Helms and Quintin Helms shot a 13-under 59 to capture the University of the Ozarks’ Alumni Golf Tournament, held Oct. 18.

Kyle Helms, a 1986 U of O graduate, and his son topped 14 other teams to win the annual two-person scramble, held at the par-72 Clarksville Country Club course.

The team of Bo Funderburk ’00 and Daniel Nichols took second with a score of 61, winning a tiebreaker over the third-place team of Greg Thompson ’91 and Tom Wolf, who also shot a 61.

A total of 30 golfers took part in the annual Homecoming tournament.

Clarksville Mayor David Rieder and Johnson County Judge Herman Houston joined University President Richard Dunsworth and alumna Lisa Gruben-Inness in a proclamation signing event declaring October 14-20 as University of the Ozarks 2019 Homecoming Week throughout the city and county.

The proclamation signing took place on Oct. 14 in front of the Johnson County Courthouse and was part of a pep rally that included more than 100 students from the University. Following the pep rally, many of the students decorated downtown businesses with University signs and decals in a Paint the Town Purple event.

Houston is a 1973 graduate of U of O and Gruben-Inness is a 1993 graduate of the University.

Homecoming 2019 will include a variety of events and reunions. For a complete schedule, please visit www.ozarks.edu/homecoming.

University of the Ozarks alumnus Dylan Eakin of Seattle, Wash., will present his art show titled, “The Machines Are Taking Our Jobs So I’ll Take One of Theirs,” from Oct. 14 to Nov. 7 in the University’s Stephens Gallery.

The show is a part of the University’s Artist of the Month Series. There will be a reception to meet the artist from 5-6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18, in the gallery, located in the Walton Fine Arts Center.

A 2013 art graduate from Ozarks, Eakin was initially focused on sculptural art. He began training himself in photorealism in 2016 because “it was cheaper than pursuing a career in figurative ceramics.”

Dylan's Artwork“Adapting myself into the regiments of photorealistic drawing requires an assimilation into automata,” Eakin said. “There’s not a single facet of the genre that doesn’t necessitate a direct confrontation towards a shopping list of personal weaknesses. Reforming my process of art production becomes a reconfiguration of human habits into mechanical ones, a method of self-improvement via photographic translation and a stick of charcoal.  Delete subjectification. Delete inspiration. Draw the picture. Beep Boop.”

The exhibit is open to the public for viewing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday when the University is in session. There is no cost for admission.

Six University of the Ozarks alumni from a variety of professions will discuss their jobs and career choices during the annual Ozarks Speaks event, scheduled for 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18, in Rowntree Hall.

The panel discussion is part of Homecoming 2019 and will feature alumni Ian Bryan ’13, Shannon Huggins ’91, Amy Patton ’10, David Ray ’07, Rev. Bruce Williams ’43, and Tyler Wilson ’11.

The event is free and open to the public.

Ian Bryan ’13

Ian Bryan of Russellville, AR, recently joined Simmons Bank in Russellville as a community banker after serving the previous four years at Arvest Bank. In his role at Simmons, Bryan’s primary focus is on commercial lending, but also works in in treasury management, merchant services, and other services provided by the bank. A baseball player and cross country runner at Ozarks, Bryan has remained involved with his alma mater, serving on the University’s Sports Hall of Fame Committee as well as the Alumni Association Board of Directors. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at

Arkansas Tech University. He and his wife, Lauren (Rogers) Bryan, have been married since 2016. He enjoys serving at New Life Church in Russellville, outdoors activities and travelling.

Shannon Huggins ’91

Shannon Huggins of Arlington, TX, is the senior vice president for contract strategy and population health at Methodist Health System. She began with Methodist in 2002 and has system responsibilities for contracting and payor relations on behalf of Methodist. Additionally, she has operational responsibilities for the Methodist Patient Centered ACO (MPCACO). Huggins has more than 25 years of experience in contracting, payor relations, population health, financial analysis and decision support. She earned a master’s degree health care administration from Texas Woman’s University in 1993. She and her husband, Bryan, have two sons, both in college. In her free time, she has volunteered in various civic, educational and church committees. She enjoys being outdoors, spending time with friends and helping others.

Amy Patton ’10

Amy (Smedley) Patton of Bryant, AR, is a laboratory manager and partner at PinPoint Testing, LLC; a position she has held since 2014. Her responsibilities include maintaining competency in a number of highly complex analytical techniques and mass spectral plat-forms. Previously, she was a chemist at the Arkansas Public Health Laboratory, working in the chemical terrorism section following a year as an APHL Environmental Public Health Fellow. Patton’s research articles have been published in Analytical Chemistry, Forensic Science International, The Journal of Forensic Science, and Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. Her abstracts and presentations have taken her across the nation, where she has spoken in numerous venues on emerging drugs of abuse. For the past 11 years, she has maintained certification as an Arkansas-licensed and nationally-registered emergency medical technician. Patton received a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary biomedical sciences from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 2013. She and her husband, Wesley, have two dogs.

David Ray ’07

David Ray is the chief of staff to Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin. Ray has spent more than a decade working in electoral and issue politics in eight different states. He has managed two congressional races as well as a statewide race for attorney general. He also served as the communications director for U.S. Senator Tom Cotton's successful 2014 campaign. Most recently, he was the state director for Americans for Prosperity Arkansas. Ray currently lives in Maumelle, AR, and is married to his wife Jessica. They have one daughter, Charlotte.

Rev. Bruce Williams ’43

The Rev. Bruce Williams of West Columbia, Texas, who turned 99 in August, is a retired U.S. Navy and prison chaplain. After graduating from Ozarks, Williams spent three years in the Navy, serving as an officer during World War II. He left the Navy to attend Princeton Seminary and was ordained in 1949. He was called to serve as a pastor for Buckingham Presbyterian Church in Berlin, Maryland. Williams stayed at Buckingham for three years before returning to the Navy. For the next 30 years, Williams served as a Navy chaplain. In addition to his time in World War II, Williams served in both the Korean and Vietnam wars. He retired from the Navy as a commander in 1975. Afterward, he served as interim and pulpit supply in several churches in Texas as well as a chaplain in the Texas Department of Corrections facility at the Clemons Unit in Brazoria, Texas.

Tyler Wilson ’11

Tyler Wilson lives in Oklahoma City where he is an associate’s attorney at the National Litigation Law Group, the largest consumer litigation law firm in the United States. He is responsible for assisting clients against predatory lending practices. He also manages attorneys in over 15 states and has helped clients settle more than $25 million worth of debt.  Wilson graduated from Ozarks with honors with a degree in biology. During his time at the University, he was a four-year starter on the tennis team and held numerous officers’ positions in various clubs, including president of the RHA.  He also served on the Alumni Board, including a term as treasurer. After Ozarks, he went on to attend the University of Oklahoma College of Law and College of Public Health. He graduated with honors in 2015 with a master’s degree in public health policy and administration and a juris doctorate. He was the first student at Oklahoma to obtain this dual-degree. After law school he would work as the senior associate attorney at Velie Law Firm, a world renown immigration law firm.  During his time there he would represent numerous high-profile clients, including internationally ranked tennis players, NFL and NBA players, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the OKC Thunder.

Dr. Eric Steinmiller ’02 (right) and Dr. Kendall Wagner ’06 have been chosen to receive the inaugural Emerging Philanthropist Award by the University of the Ozarks’ Office of Advancement and Alumni Engagement.

The awards will be presented during the Ozarks Awards Ceremony, scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18, in the Rogers Conference Center. The ceremony is part of Homecoming Week 2019.

The Emerging Philanthropist Award is a newly established honor by the University to recognize individuals age 40 or under who have demonstrated a record of exceptional generosity in support of Ozarks’ mission and who have inspired others to give similarly.

“We appreciate our many supporters and we’ve always recognized and honored them in a variety of ways over the years, but we’ve never had a specific award for our younger donors,” said Lori McBee, vice president for the Office of Advancement and Alumni Engagement. “This award will allow us to recognize our younger alumni supporters who have demonstrated a commitment to Ozarks and to our students. Eric and Kendall exemplify the type of community-minded, philanthropic young alumni we had in mind when we created this award.”

A 2002 graduate of Ozarks, Steinmiller is an educator and school administrator. A native of Arkadelphia, Ark., he has served as a teacher and administrator in Texas, Louisiana and Illinois, where he is currently an assistant principal at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Chicago. His vision is to create professional learning communities that use data to inform instructional practices, student achievement and student interventions. Steinmiller earned a master’s degree in art history from the University of North Texas and an Ed.D. in urban education and leadership from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He and his wife, Jaclyn, reside in Chicago.

Wagner, who graduated from Ozarks in 2006, a primary care physician in Fort Smith, AR. A native of Waldron, Ark., Wagner was the recipient of the University’s Hurie Award in 2006 as the outstanding member of the senior class. He went on earn his medical degree from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). He completed a residency program in internal medicine-pediatrics, leading to specialized board certification in both adult and pediatric care. He and his wife, Kathie, have two children, Averie and Grayson. Wagner remains an active supporter of Ozarks and also serves on the board of the Harvest Time Kids Academy. The Wagners are active in their church and are ardent supporters of Christian education.

To purchase tickets to the Ozarks Awards Ceremony or for more information on Homecoming 2019, please contact the Office of Advancement and Alumni Engagement at 479-979-1234.

The University of the Ozarks Alumni Association will present its 2019 alumni awards to three distinguished alumni — Ananias “A.B.” Blocker ‘70 of Laurel, Md.; Paulette Nieuwenhof ’80 of Maumelle, Ark.; and Boulton “Bo” Thomas ’14 of Fayetteville, Ark.

The awards will be presented as part of the Ozarks Awards Ceremony at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18, during the University’s 2019 Homecoming Week. Tickets for the awards ceremony can be purchased by calling 479-979-1234 or online at www.ozarks.edu/homecoming.

Here is a look at the Alumni Association’s 2019 award recipients:

Alumni Merit Award

Ananias “A.B.” Blocker ’70 is the recipient of the 2019 Alumni Merit Award for meritorious work on behalf of his alma mater. An accounting and business administration major at Ozarks, Blocker went on to have a 43-year career in business and management in New Jersey and Maryland after leaving Ozarks. He spent 26 years as a manager for Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) before joining ManTech International Corp., as a program manager from 2002 until his retirement in 2013. Despite being on the East Coast, Blocker stayed involved with Ozarks, serving three decades as one of the leaders of the University’s Black Alumni Association. Through their work, they helped improve conditions on campus for black students and created scholarships for minority students. Blocker and his first wife, alumna Myrtis (Watson) Blocker, were married for 42 years before she passed away in 2009. Blocker, who played tennis at Ozarks, remained active in the sport, even serving as a youth tennis instructor. He has also recently turned a hobby of making his homemade barbeque sauce into an online business called A. B. & C. Southern Barbeque Sauce. Blocker has a son, Ananias Blocker III, and two grandchildren, Phillip and Lindsay. He remarried in 2016 to his current wife, Cherry.   

Alumni Achievement Award

Paulette Nieuwenhof ’80 is the recipient of the 2019 Alumni Achievement Award for outstanding recognition in her chosen professional field. Nieuwenhof is the executive director of the Arkansas Blood Institute, a non-profit organization based in Little Rock that provides blood products and services to over 40 hospitals throughout the state. She is responsible for the overall operations of the blood bank and donor centers located in Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Hot Springs. A 1980 business administration graduate of Ozarks, she previously served as the business development director for The Poultry Federation. In addition to her management experience, Nieuwenhof has an extensive background in business development, public relations, and marketing in diverse industries including healthcare, agriculture, and automotive. She was chosen for the 2018 Arkansas 250 List, which is Arkansas Business’ annual selection of “people who are shaping the way we live, learn and do business in the state.” She currently serves as an honorary commander at the Little Rock Air Force Base and is serving a three-year term on the University’s Alumni Board. The youngest of six children, Nieuwenhof was born in Balikpapan, Indonesia. Due to the political climate, the family was compelled to move to the Netherlands. In 1961, the family immigrated to the United States. She has two daughters, Anneke Bollman and Megan Toland, and three grandchildren, Halle, Braden and Jett. She is engaged to be married to the Rev. Dr. Jim Freeman.

Young Alumni Achievement Award

Boulton “Bo” Thomas ’14 is the recipient of the 2019 Young Alumni Achievement Award, given in honor of an alumnus under the age of 35 who has gained recognition in his or her chosen profession.. Thomas is a co-founder and chief operating officer of Nature Backs, a Northwest Arkansas-based e-commerce adventure lifestyle brand. A native of Mountain Home, AR, Thomas graduated with honors from Ozarks in 2014 with a degree in environmental science and political science. He was also a member of the University’s baseball team. Soon after graduating from Ozarks, Thomas and his best friend began traveling the country to start their business to inspire people to experience the moment. Three and a half years later, Nature Backs is headquartered in Fayetteville and has grown to a team of 27 to inspire more adventures. In his free time, Thomas enjoys traveling, hiking, music festivals, disc golf, and simply sitting on his front porch.

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.

Though they’re doing it in markedly different ways, 2016 graduates Liliam López and Debora Castro are each using their University of the Ozarks business degrees to make a positive impact in their respective Central America countries.

The two former Walton International Scholars visited campus recently and talked about their professional careers.

López, (pictured, left) a marketing and management/business administration major living in Choluteca, Honduras, is an analyst coordinator for the Agrolibano Group, one of the top cantaloupe-producing companies in the Americas.  Castro, an international business and management major living in San Salvador, El Salvador,  is a partnership/advocacy technical assistant for a USAID project called Bridges to Employment, which helps at-risk youth in the country gain training and find employment.

The Agrolibano Group exports more than 4,000 large shipping containers of melons each growing season, which runs from December to May. While the fruit is shipped around the world, about 50 percent of the melons head to either the United States or Europe. López is the coordinator of the Great Britain account, handling financial reports, quality control and customer service.

López, who has worked for the company for almost three years, said it is especially satisfying to know that she is helping to promote and advance Honduras through her work.

“I’m really proud when I hear about melons from Honduras that are eaten around the world,” she said. “People will send me pictures of the stickers and it’s really neat to see. I know the passion that the growers in Honduras have for their melons and I know the work that is done to produce them, so I’m especially proud to play a small role in producing something that is in demand all over the world.”

López credited Ozarks’ diverse student population for helping her prepare to work for a global company.

“At Ozarks, you learn to get along and interact with so many different cultures and that’s been very beneficial to me,” she said. “I work with clients from all over the world and I strongly believe that my time at Ozarks has helped me in my daily interactions with my clients. Ozarks helped instill in me a cultural sensitivity and openness to others.”

Castro has worked for almost three years for the non-profit Bridges to Employment project, which is funded by USAID and implemented by DAI Global, LLC.  The program works with at-risk and vulnerable youth between the ages of 16-29 in El Salvador to “successfully integrate them into the workforce as fully qualified and productive citizens to help boost the economy, lower crime, and reduce illegal immigration.”

Castro said the type of work she is doing is what she envisioned when she first came to Ozarks as a Walton Scholar.

“When I was selected as a Walton Scholar, I had dreams of going back home and helping my country, but I didn’t know exactly what that would look like or how I could do that,” Castro said, “Now I’m working with a program which uses national and international cooperation that, working together, we actually change things for the better. It’s very fulfilling, professionally, for me because I’m contributing to the development of my country and actually making an impact. That’s exactly what I wanted to do.”

Castro said her time at Ozarks and her involvement in service-oriented organizations like Enactus, PBL and Alpha & Omega helped her understand and appreciate the importance of giving back.

“The volunteering and service opportunities I had at Ozarks really opened my eyes to the impact that we all can have on others,” Castro said. “My desire to help others was definitely boosted at Ozarks and now that’s what I do for a living. My education and experiences at Ozarks prepared me perfectly for this.”

Justin McCormick has joined University of the Ozarks as the new associate director of alumni engagement.

McCormick will be a part of the University’s Advancement and Alumni Engagement Office and, working with the director of development and alumni engagement, will lead Ozarks’ alumni relations efforts. He brings experience in event planning, fundraising and managing volunteers.

He most recently served as events and tours manager for the Peel Compton Foundation in Bentonville, AR. Before that he was the coordinator of Parent and Family Programs at the University of Arkansas from 2017 to 2019. He also served as a graduate assistant in the Office of Greek Life at the University of Missouri from 2015 to 2017. In all of these capacities, McCormick engaged in fundraising and relationship building.

“I am honored and excited to work with the amazing network of alumni who have established their commitment to Ozarks, while assisting in the expansion of alumni engagement opportunities for future graduates,” McCormick said. “My hope is to bring my knowledge of working with students, alumni and families from other institutions and apply it to a University that means a great deal to the area that I love.”

McCormick earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas and a master’s degree in educational leadership and policy analysis from the University of Missouri.

“I am looking forward to finding engaging ways for our alumni to stay connected to Ozarks and bring innovative ideas to the table,” he said. “Working with diverse individuals in a higher education setting is my passion. This position will allow me to work directly with current students and alumni so that they know how important they are to the University and its mission.”

A native of nearby Altus, McCormick and his husband, Jerred, have been married for a little over a year and have one son, Hayden. His hobbies include, being outdoors, hiking, four wheeling, kayaking and traveling to new places with his family.

He is also an animal lover, with three dogs and two cats. He is an advocate for children in foster care and children with disabilities and also dabbles in event planning, photography, interior design and florals in his spare time.

The University of the Ozarks’ Alumni Association Board of Directors mixed business with a dose of community service during its recent board meeting on July 27 in Clarksville.

Following its annual summer meeting, several board members took part in a community service project to paint the outside store front of a downtown business, Master Printing of Clarksville, Inc.

It’s a new tradition for the board to give of their time to benefit the University and the city of Clarksville. Last summer, board members volunteered in the University’s Food for Thought Garden.

Alumni Community Service“As alumni of the University, it is a pleasure to give back to a community that meant so much to us while we were students at Ozarks,” said Shannon Huggins ’91, president of the alumni board. “We appreciate the Alumni Engagement Office and the Chamber of Commerce for connecting us with Master Printing to provide this volunteer opportunity. We come together for the Alumni Association board meetings a few times a year so it provides us a chance to give as a group. Last year we pulled weeds in the garden, and this year we painted a downtown store front. Who knows what we will be doing next time.”

Master Printing owner Danna Schneider said she “cannot fully express my appreciation to the University of the Ozarks Alumni Association board members for painting the front of my shop.”

“They worked tirelessly and professionally until the job was completed and I couldn't be happier with the outcome,” Schneider said. “What a privilege to have U of O alumni who volunteer their time to the community they called home while attending school here.  Clarksville is fortunate to have a University that produces such civic-minded graduates. A special thanks also to Jessica Gunn with the Clarksville-Johnson County Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Arkansas for pulling it all together. They are making an impact on our downtown, with help from University graduates and others.”

Gunn, executive director of the Clarksville-Johnson County Chamber of Commerce, said the board members’ assistance in painting the store front is part of a larger plan to revitalize downtown Clarksville.

“I am so grateful to have had the U of O Alumni Association volunteer in our community revitalization project this past weekend,” Gunn said. “It was especially interesting that many of the volunteers had moved and no longer live in the community. To see them working hard for their alma mater's home speaks volumes for the University’s ability to build connections.”

Among the board members who helped with the project included, Huggins, Cori Dyson ’97, Lisa Gruben-Inness ’93, Scarlett Morris ’86, David Morris ’83, Wendy Blackwood ’90, Courtney Taylor ’09, Elizabeth Allcon ’91 and George Pittenger ’91. Also helping was alumnus Dan Dooley ’90.