Signing Proclaims 2019 Homecoming Week

Signing Proclaims 2019 Homecoming Week

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

Thirteen University of the Ozarks students from six different countries and representing a variety of majors from around campus are coming together this semester as part of a global fellowship program. Their goal is to help improve food security on campus.

The students were selected as 2019 Millennium Fellows. The fellowship is a semester-long leadership development program developed as a partnership between the Millennium Campus Network and the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) initiative. Fellows are leading projects that advance the United Nations’ sustainable development goals and the UNAI’s principles in the students’ communities and beyond.

The Class of 2019 includes 1,092 Millennium Fellows from 69 campuses across 16 nations. Ozarks was among only 6% of the world’s higher education institutions selected to host Fellows this year.

The U of O Fellows include, Jarret Bain, a junior psychology major from The Bahamas; Yailin Blackman, a senior business administration major from Panama; Ohany Roman Blandon, a senior accounting and management major from Nicaragua; Melissa Brenes, a senior business administration major from Nicaragua; Petron Brown, a sophomore environmental studies and theatre major from The Bahamas; Ralph Jean-Pierre, a business administration major from Haiti; Misael Perez-Medina, a sophomore mathematics major from Clarksville; Hendrick Octavius, a sophomore business administration major from Haiti; Rebecca Peterson, a junior environmental studies major from Coweta, OK; Kenia Roa, a sophomore business administration major from Costa Rica; Richard Rodriguez, a junior business administration and political science major from Nicaragua; Kengor Thermozier, a sophomore biology major from Haiti; and Christina Waddle, a junior environmental studies major from Pleasant Hill, MO.

Blandon and Rodriguez are serving as co-directors for the group and took the lead on writing the proposal and organizing the team. The group’s faculty advisors are Dr. Kim Van Scoy, professor of environmental studies and sustainable agriculture, and Dr. Allison Freed, assistant professor of education.

The U of O group’s project is called, “Student Initiative on Food Security,” and is aimed at improving food security for vulnerable students at the University. They will meet regularly throughout the semester with their campus cohorts to network, learn from each other and develop a range of leadership and professional skills such as grant writing and strategic planning.

Blandon cited a 2019 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office that reported that between 9 and 50 percent of college students have faced food insecurity.

“At this University, there is a significant population of students who are at risk of food insecurity, especially during the holidays and breaks when the cafeteria closes,” said Blandon. “This was a project that we felt like we had the resources to take on and one that we felt could be impactful. We feel like we can come up with effective strategies where students can work hand-in-hand with other members of the campus community to help alleviate this problem and make a difference for many students.”

The diversity of the group is one of its strengths, according to Rodriguez.

“We wanted to find students who were already working on, or at least aware of, the problem and could bring different perspectives to the team,” Rodriguez said. “Some of the students work in food banks, some work with the campus garden and some have been personally affected by food insecurity. We really didn’t go into it planning to have such a diverse group, but that’s kind of how it turned out. I definitely think it’s a plus.”

While the fellowship technically just runs through the fall semester, Blandon hopes to continue the project through the academic year and beyond. One of the ways he plans to do that is to create a permanent campus working group.

“We believe this is something that shouldn’t just be a short-term project,” Blandon said, “We want to develop something that is going to be sustainable and that will make a difference for many years to come, so we don’t just want to work on it this semester and then stop. We’re looking at this is an ongoing project.”

Local musician Ryan Harmon will highlight the second First Friday in downtown Clarksville, scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 3. Presented by University of the Ozarks and the Clarksville-Johnson County Chamber of Commerce, First Friday is a community event held on the corner of Main Street and the Spadra Trail. It will feature live music, a variety of food trucks and vendors as well as lawn games. There is no charge for admission and the public is invited to attend and encouraged to bring lawn chairs. Harmon is a singer-songwriter from Lamar. With musical influences like Travis Tritt, Ray Charles and Bob Seger, and lyrical influences like Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson and Roger Miller, Harmon carries on the long tradition of "three chords and the truth." Combined with a commanding stage presence and fun, lively performances, he seeks to push the boundaries of what a solo acoustic act can be. Though commonly categorized as country music, Harmon's music more specifically fits Americana, a sub-genre of country. He describes Americana by saying, "You can put Hank Williams, Bob Seger, Ray Charles and Bill Monroe all in the same room, and it makes perfect sense." In 2017, Harmon released his self-titled, debut album. Taking all modern production standards and throwing them out the window, Harmon created a stripped-down, low-fi recording that allows the songs to stand on their own, good or bad. "I hear so much stuff where it seems like they put more focus on the production than the song. I love listening to old Hank Williams or Robert Johnson records where the word 'production' didn't even come into it. Press the 'record' button, and off you go! Get a performance of the song and that's it," Harmon said. From the rocking, early Johnny Cash influenced "Hold On Sally," to the powerful "Ride The Wind," and the emotional "Find Your Heart," Harmon's songwriting focuses on real life and real people. One of the album's more prominent songs, the humorous, yet true, anthemic country heartbreak "You Left, My Dog Died, and My Heart Did Too," was featured on an NPR Music playlist of dog-themed songs in January 2018. In 2019, Harmon is continuing that same style of writing, with new music coming soon. "It doesn't matter if it's a love song, a sad song, a funny song, etc. Life throws all of those different emotions at us. As long as people can relate to it and enjoy it, I feel like I've done my job." This will be the final First Friday of the spring semester. It will start again in September when the fall semester is underway. Something good has come out of those pesky parking tickets. Thanks to a new Food 4 Fines program, the University of the Ozarks’ Office of Public Safety on Friday donated a large barrel of canned goods to the Clarksville School District’s backpack program, which serves underprivileged families. The Food 4 Fines program was started earlier this semester and allows students, faculty and staff who receive parking tickets on campus to donate $10 worth of food to pay off their first parking ticket, which typically runs $50. “As you can imagine, this program has been quite popular,” said Larry Graham, director of public safety. “When people realize that they have the option of bringing in canned goods instead of paying a $50 fine, they’re usually pretty happy. Plus, they feel good about doing something that benefits the community and children.” University Chaplain Rev. Jeremy Wilhelmi and several students helped Graham box up the canned goods and deliver them to Pyron Elementary School, where they will be distributed through the school’s backpack program. Graham said the idea for the program came from U of O Wrestling Coach LeRoy Gardner, who had seen a similar program at another university. He said approximately 30 people have donated canned goods this semester in lieu of paying their parking fines. “We feel like the program has been a success and we plan to keep it going,” Graham said. “We feel like there are still deterrents to illegal parking, but that this program gives first offenders an option to turn something bad, like a parking ticket, into something positive, like helping people.” University officials said the Food 4 Fines program applies only to first-time offenders.

Dining Hall

Closes after lunch 3/15. Re-opens for dinner service 3/24.

Eagles Nest

Closes at 3 p.m. 3/15. Re-opens at 10 a.m. 3/25.

Campus Perks

Closes at 3 p.m. 3/15. Open 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. 3/18 – 3/22. Re-opens for normal hours 3/24.

Residence Halls

Open as normal 3/18 – 3/22.

Post Office

Open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. 3/18 – 3/22.


Open 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. 3/18 – 3/22.

Ozarks Shuttle

Open 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. 3/16 & 3/29.

Ozarks Outdoors

Open 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. 3/18 – 3/22.


Closed 3/18-3/22.

Clarksville Community Resources

Clarksville Aquatic Center open 5 a.m. – 10 p.m. U of O Planet Club Presents: Star Party – 10 – 10:30 p.m. March 20 ($6 admission fee) Water Coloring at the Chamber of Commerce – 6 - 8 p.m. March 21 (Free admission) City Metro Taxi 479-979-4142 Clarksville - Johnson County Chamber Events University of the Ozarks will present a concert by up-and-coming Arkansas country music musicians Heath Sanders and Mallory Everett on Saturday, April 13, on the campus mall. The concert, which will begin at 6 p.m. on the campus mall, is part of the inaugural Ozarks Fest, an event for current and prospective U of O students. The public is invited to attend the concert and there is no cost for admission. Sanders, who grew up in Marshall, Ark., and graduated from Ozark (Ark.) High School, is a former oilfield worker turned full-time musician whose popularity skyrocketed after a performance on The Bobby Bones Show in early 2018. Bones found a cover that Sanders put online of Chris Stapleton’s “Either Way,” and invited him to perform on his show. While on the show, Sanders sang his song, “Bloodline,” which quickly went viral and has been viewed more than 1.2 million times.  Since then, he has been selling out shows every weekend across the country. He’s opened up for Drake White and Cory Smith and has been invited to open for Bones’ own band, The Raging Idiots. In February he release a new single, “Down on the South.” Sanders is associated with L3 Entertainment, management home to Justin Moore, Tyler Rich, Leah Turner and Scott Stevens, and recently signed a publishing deal with Sony ATV. His music has been called authentic and country as they come, with a powerfully rich voice and a life story that needs to be told. Everett, who will open the concert with a 60-minute set, is a country music artist hailing from a rice farm in the Arkansas Delta.  She learned to sing whatever the tractor's radio would pick up and now she plays acoustic acts Mallory Everettthroughout the mid-south.  Her album "Arkansas" has sold in the thousands and her fan base continues to grow. Everett’s style has been described as “full of soul with a natural country twang that is sure to have you toe tapping.” Her second album is currently underway in Nashville and will be ready in 2019. There will be food vendors and food trucks available at the event for guests. Audience members are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.

University of the Ozarks’ MacLean Hall is currently undergoing a $10 million renovation, the most extensive refurbishment project in the building’s 92-year history.

Construction began in December on the stately “H” shaped, three-story student residence hall that was completed in 1927 and sits on the east side of College Avenue. The current project is expected to be completed in early August, in time for the start of the 2019-20 academic year.

The renovation will include a fire sprinkler system, new central heat and air systems, an elevator, and all new mechanical, electrical and plumbing components. The student housing capacity will increase from 170 to 220 and additional common areas and laundry facilities will be created.

Most of the work this semester is being performed on the lower level after approximately 40 students who resided there in the fall were accommodated in other campus housing. The remainder of the renovations will take place during the summer break.

MacLean Hall-Common Area“This is a full renovation of MacLean Hall,” said Jeff Scaccia, vice president for finance and administration. “Basically we’re taking all the deferred maintenance out of the building and putting in new systems and components that are more modern and energy efficient. And, in many ways we’re restoring the building to its historic look.”

One example of reverting to the original look will be at the front of the building. With the inclusion of the fire sprinkler system, the external staircases that were added in the early 2000s are no longer needed and will be taken down.

The addition of an elevator to the historic building, as well as an ADA entrance door on the east side, will make MacLean Hall much more accessible.

MacLean Hall BallroomThe renovation project will also include new bathrooms, LED lightning and furnishings throughout the building. The large second-floor ballroom will also be renovated and a gas fireplace added. A courtyard will be created in the back of the building and new landscaping will be incorporated.

MacLean Hall was constructed in 1926-27 at a cost of $150,000. It was named in honor of Marie MacLean of Atlantic City, N.J., who was inspired to donate $60,000 for the project after hearing then-Ozarks President Dr. Wiley Lin Hurie speak at her church. Much of the original design and construction was completed by Ozarks’ faculty and students.

MacLean has undergone major renovations in 1968, 1976, 1988 and the early 2000s.

The current project’s construction company is Nabholz Corp., and Credo Design Architects is the architectural firm.

Caitlin Huckfeldt has been named the new director of residential life at University of the Ozarks, effective immediately. Huckfeldt has served as the assistant director of residence life and student engagement at Ozarks since July. In her new duties, she will provide leadership and administrative direction to a comprehensive and vibrant student housing program, including the overall administration of a variety of University residential facilities. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to invest in our residential community at University of the Ozarks and excited to be a part of the continued development of our program and operations,’ Huckfeldt said. With an almost 50 percent growth in enrollment over the past five years, Luke Morrill, dean of students, said it was time for the University to have an administrator solely focused on residential life. “With the continued growth and development at the University, moving forward with an individual serving solely in the director of residential life leadership role is critical to the success of the student on-campus living experience,” Morrill said. “After conducting a national search, we identified Caitlin as the best person to lead us in that area. In her short time here she has had an incredible impact on the Office of Student Affairs. I am excited to work with her in this new role as she continues to provide visionary leadership and facilitate continued development to all aspects of residential living at University of the Ozarks.” Prior to arriving at Ozarks, Huckfeldt served as a graduate assistant in the Office of Dean of Students at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, where she also earned a master’s degree in leadership, student affairs in higher education. She earned her bachelor’s degree in social work and Bible and theology at Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Huckfeldt also has experience as a social caseworker and as an academic advisor. Her husband, Austin, serves as a public safety officer at the University. Lauren Dotson, a senior English major from Harrison, Ark., took home top honors in Season 13 of the University of the Ozarks' Project Poet competition. A total of 28 students entered the annual multi-week, fall semester competition that started in mid-September. In the following weeks, several poets went out of print until five remained, competing against each other in a lively finals episode on Oct. 26. Dotson won the top prize of $1,000 and the title of Poet Laureate of the Spadra Valley for 2018. Rebekah Moore, last year's co-champion, finished runner-up and took home the $500 second prize. Chava Roberts, Jarret Bain, and Marcelina Pop received $250, $150, and $100, respectively "Over the course of the season all Project Poet poets wrote thought-provoking poems about various subjects, poems infused with love and grief and grace," said Chris Carrier, adjunct English professor and coordinator of this year’s competition. "They made Ozarks a richer, more beautiful place." Project Poet began in 2006 as the brainchild of Ozarks’ Professor of English, Dr. David Strain, and his former colleague, Dr. Kendrick Prewitt. The competition challenges students to draw on their creative writing skills and their wit, and is open to students from any program on campus. Based on Bravo TV’s program "Project Runway," the poetry competition presents contestants with a new challenge each week. Contestants read their entries before the panel of three faculty/staff judges, and the audience, who acts as the fourth judge. When all votes are tallied, one contestant wins immunity for the next week’s challenge, while two or three others go “out of print.” The contestants who make it through to each successive round are given more difficult challenges as the competition progresses. Since 2006, more than 300 students have competed in Project Poet. University of the Ozarks continues to be one of the fastest-growing universities in the region, shattering enrollment and admission records for the second consecutive year and topping 800 students for the first time in its history. A total of 872 students are enrolled at U of O for the Fall 2018 Semester, the most in the University’s 184-year history and a 15 percent increase over last year's previous record of 755 students. Enrollment at Ozarks has increased 49 percent since 2013, when 585 students were enrolled. The incoming class, which includes first-time freshmen and transfer students, is 323 — the largest incoming class in the University's 184-year history and a 38 percent increase over the incoming class of 2016. The university also reported a retention rate of 75 percent for last year's freshman class from fall 2017 to fall 2018, a 15 percent increase over the fall-to-fall retention rate from the previous year. “There is growing energy and excitement throughout the campus as we continue to reach notable milestones in this University’s long history,” said U of O President Richard Dunsworth. “The growth reflects the University’s positive image and reputation in higher education here in the River Valley and across the region, nation and world. With a record number of new students choosing Ozarks as well as a significant increase in retaining our current students, this success is reflective of the outstanding work of our dedicated faculty and staff.” This year’s student body is one of the most geographically diverse in the University’s history with182 international students from 25 countries, including the Bahamas, Belgium, Haiti, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Malaysia, Panama, Russia, Rwanda, South Korea, Spain and Zimbabwe. Ozarks also has students from 27 states and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. The University is also setting records for enrolling local students, with 169 students from the River Valley counties of Johnson, Pope, Conway, Franklin, Logan and Crawford. A total of 104 students hail from the University’s home county of Johnson, including 40 in the incoming class. Dunsworth said the University and its board of trustees have worked to hold, and in some cases decrease, the cost of attending Ozarks for students and their families over the past six years by eliminating fees, freezing tuition, increasing scholarship support and placing an emphasis on technology. “We remain committed to keeping an Ozarks’ education affordable and reducing the amount of debt our students incur and I think prospective students and their families see that,” Dunsworth said. “We’ve implemented a sound financial aid strategy that is in line with our mission of serving and preparing students from diverse backgrounds. When you combine that with increased academic opportunities, broader international partnerships and more innovative programs and curriculum, you have an educational experience that is truly top-notch.” Reggie Hill, vice president for marketing and enrollment, said the University closed admission in June for the second consecutive year. “We’re seeing more students applying early, completing applications and confirming their attendance at Ozarks well before the deadline,” Hill said. “This tremendous enrollment growth is a consequence of building strong relationships locally and abroad, strategic enrollment planning and a significant increase in retention. It’s a wonderful testament of the value of an Ozarks education as well as the campus-wide efforts we are putting into recruiting students who desire a high-quality, personalized education.”