The University of the Ozarks’ Office of Advancement and Alumni Engagement has scheduled several alumni events throughout the region as well as other areas starting in mid-January and stretching into April.
The events are opportunities for Ozarks alumni to hear from University representatives about the University and to meet and reconnect with fellow alumni. All events are free to attend and alumni are encouraged to bring their family members.
If you would like to learn more information about an upcoming event, suggest an area to have an alumni gathering or RSVP for an upcoming event, please contact the Office of Advancement and Alumni Engagement at 479-979-1234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming U of O alumni events:
• Jan. 16: 6:30 p.m. at MASH’D, 2948 Crockett St, Fort Worth, TX
• Jan 17: 11:30 a.m. at The Henry, 2301 Akard Street, Suite 250, Dallas, TX
• Jan 17: 6:30 p.m. at Sixty Vines , 3701 Dallas Pkwy, Plano, TX
• Feb 4: 6:30 p.m. at McNellie’s Pub, 409 E 1st Street, Tulsa, OK
Little Rock, Arkansas
• Feb 6: 11:30 a.m. at Trio’s, 8201 Cantrell Rd, Little Rock, AR
• Feb 6: 6:30 p.m. at The Copper Grill, 300 E 3rd St, Ste 101, Little Rock, AR
• Feb 27: 11:30 a.m. at Crystal Bridges, 600 Museum Way, Bentonville, AR
• Feb 27: 6:30 p.m. at Farrell’s Lounge Bar & Grill, 311 W. Dickson St, Fayetteville, AR
• March 2-5: To Be Determined
• March 5-6: To Be Determined
• March 20: 7:00 p.m. at SPIN Chicago, 344 N State St, Chicago, IL
Fort Smith, Arkansas
• March 31: 6:30 p.m. at Stonehouse Chaffee Crossing, 8801 Wells Lake Rd, Fort Smith, AR
• April 2: 6:30 p.m. at Kasper’s, 501 N Johnson St, Clarksville, AR
The University of the Ozarks Alumni Association is currently taking applications for positions on its board of directors.
The Alumni Association Board of Directors represent the greater alumni body. Directors serve three-year terms and meet three times a year on campus.
The board is currently made up of four committees: executive, finance, connections and nomination. During their time on campus, directors get updated on everything Ozarks and discuss ways to improve alumni engagement. The board also provides valuable insight into the needs of alumni to the University’s alumni office.
The alumni board currently has vacancies that will be filled at the February board meeting. The board is looking for alumni who are dedicated to Ozarks and willing to commit time and energy to the efforts of the institution.
Anyone interested may apply by visiting https://ozarks.edu/alumni/alumni-board-association/ and completing the board application. The deadline to apply to be considered for the February appointments is Feb. 8.
For more information, please contact the alumni office at email@example.com or 479-979-1234.
Approximately 25 graduating seniors are expected to receive their diplomas during the University of the Ozarks’ 2019 Fall Commencement ceremony, scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 14.
The ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. in Munger-Wilson Memorial Chapel. Immediately following Commencement, there will be a reception for the graduates and their families and friends in the Rogers Conference Center.
Dr. Angela (Wheeler) Spencer, a 1998 graduate of Ozarks, will serve as the keynote speaker during the ceremony. A native of Lamar, Ark., Spencer serves as the Undergraduate Program Coordinator in the School of Accounting at Oklahoma State University, where she also holds the Lanny G. Chasteen Chair and Haskell Cudd Professorship. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses at OSU, including courses on accounting theory and accounting tools, technologies, and innovation. Her research interests primarily focus on issues related to financial reporting, including off-balance sheet items and disclosure.
Spencer, who earned an MBA from the University of Central Arkansas and her Ph.D. from OSU, has received a number of awards related to teaching, research, and service, including the Federation of Schools of Accountancy FSA/Mark Chain Innovation in Graduate Teaching Award, the Kenneth D. and Leitner Greiner Teaching Award and the Phillips 66 Exceptional Service Award. She previously served as treasurer of the U of O Alumni Association and currently serves as a member of the American Accounting Association’s steering committees for the Conference on Teaching and Learning in Accounting and the Intensive Data and Analytics Summer Workshop, City of Stillwater Audit Committee, and Stillwater Medical Center Finance Committee.
Spencer lives in Stillwater, Okla., with her husband, Shawn, and sons Jack and Jamie.
The senior welcome will be provided by Janae Williams, an environmental studies major from Nassau, The Bahamas.
Commencement week will also include a senior dinner in the Rogers Conference Center at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12, and a brick ceremony on the campus mall at 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 13.
University of the Ozarks ranks among the top colleges in the country in producing “happy and successful alumni,” according to Forbes magazine’s 2019 Grateful Graduates Index.
Announced in August, the 2019 index ranks U of O first among Arkansas universities and No. 87 in the country. The index ranks the top 200 private, non-profit institutions by examining the percentage of alumni who make donations to their colleges and the total amount of those donations, adjusted for enrollment.
Forbes describes the index as “an alternative measure of colleges' return-on-investment (ROI) that takes more of a Marie Kondo approach to college ranking. We boil down the analysis to a single factor. Does your alma mater ‘spark joy’ in your heart, enough to cause you to reach into your wallet and show your gratitude in the form of a donation?”
Forbes’ look at this return on investment measures gratitude in two ways, the seven-year median gifts per full-time enrolled student and the average percentage of alumni who give back, regardless of the amount donated.
“University of the Ozarks has a long and proud tradition of philanthropy and each year our alumni and friends of the University show their support of the University’s mission through their gifts,” said Lori McBee, vice president for advancement and alumni engagement. “The Grateful Graduates Index is another testament to the generosity and loyalty of our alumni and friends.”
During the 2018-19 fiscal year, which ended June 30, Ozarks received $7.2 million in gifts from alumni and friends of the University for scholarships, academic programs, facilities and campus operations. The University recently surpassed the $47 million mark in its current $55-million Climb Higher Campaign, which runs through December 2020.
The 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 nephew, Quintin, 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.”
“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.