First Week 2019 to Welcome New Class

First Week 2019 to Welcome New Class

University of the Ozarks will welcome more than 300 new students to campus on Aug. 16 for the start of First Week 2019, the official kickoff for the 2019-20 academic year. Classes for the Fall 2019 Semester will begin on Tuesday, Aug. 20.

Total enrollment is expected to top 900 for the first time in the University’s 185-year history.

The incoming class of first-time students is expected to include approximately 275 freshmen and 40 transfer students.

First Week, which runs from Aug. 16-19, is an on-campus orientation program to help new students become acclimated to the University.

First Week begins on the morning of Aug. 16 with faculty, staff and upper-class students helping the new students move into the residence halls. The residence halls will open at 9 a.m. for the new students to move in.

First Week 2019 will include a mix of developmental, academic, social and engagement orientation opportunities.

One of the highlights of First Week is the Matriculation Ceremony, where the University officially welcomes the new class to campus. The Matriculation Ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m., Aug. 16, in Munger-Wilson Chapel.

Highlights of First Week:

Aug 16 — A welcoming program at 1 p.m.; a parents resource fair at 1:45 p.m.; Matriculation Ceremony at 3 p.m.; a President’s Welcome Picnic at 5 p.m.; Clarksville social at the Chamber of Commerce at 7 p.m.
Aug 17 — Introduction to First Week at 8 a.m.; Student Life at Ozarks presentation at 12:45 p.m.; Choose Your Own Adventure sessions at 7 p.m.
Aug 18 — Chapel service at 11 a.m.; Ozarks Block Party at 7 p.m.
Aug 19 — Transfer and international student orientation at 8 a.m.; Student Resource Fair at 10 a.m.; Opening Convocation for all students at 4 p.m.; Welcome Back Tailgate for all students at 5 p.m.; Madness on the Mall at 7 p.m.
Aug. 20 — Classes begin

Important dates for the Fall 2019 Semester:

Labor Day Holiday: Sept. 2
Homecoming: Oct. 17-20
Fall Break: Oct. 24-25
Thanksgiving Holiday: Nov. 27-29
Last Day of Classes: Dec. 4
Final Exams: Dec. 6-11
Fall Commencement: Dec. 14

University of the Ozarks alumna Taylor Plugge, who has served in the Office of Admission since 2013, will transition into the director of student engagement position in the Office of Student Affairs, effective July 1.

A 2013 graduate of Ozarks, Plugge has been the assistant director of admission since 2017. As director of student engagement, she will lead the areas of student activities, new student orientation programs and student organizations.

“I am excited to be joining student affairs and working with a talented group of colleagues to build a student engagement program that is dynamic and inclusive,” Plugge said. “My goal is to work with students, faculty and staff from across campus to create a vibrant student experience that contributes to student success, retention and to the University’s mission.”

Plugge replaces Bendex Stevenson, who was named director of campus recreation in May.

“Taylor is an outstanding addition to the student affairs team,” said Luke Morrill, dean of students. “She has spent her career at Ozarks directly impacting the undergraduate experience and developing meaningful connections with all the students she interacts with. As Taylor transitions into her new role, I have no doubt that she will bring the same student centered approach to developing a vibrant student engagement program.”

As part of the admission staff, Plugge played an integral role in helping the University set record enrollments in each of the past three years.

Plugge said one of her priorities in leading student engagement is to support the integration of the University’s growing international student population into the campus community.

“Ozarks has one of the most diverse small campuses in the region and that’s part of what makes this University special,” Plugge said. “Ozarks has a long history of embracing student diversity through values such as hospitality, justice and inclusion. I want to help continue that legacy through the student engagement office.”

A native of Hartman, Arkansas, Plugge graduated from Ozarks with cum laude honors while earning a degree in economics. As a student at Ozarks she worked in the University’s Advancement Office in a work-study capacity.

She and her fiancé, Aaron, have a 4-year-old daughter, Addison. Outside of work, Plugge enjoys hiking with her family, camping on the weekends, exploring the different state parks around Arkansas, and spending time on her family’s farm.

University of the Ozarks Theatre will wrap up its 2018-19 season with a three-show performance of A.R. Gurney’s modern comedy Sylvia on April 26, 27 and 28. The production, which contains mature language and content, will begin at 7:30 p.m. on April 26 and 27 and at 2 p.m. on April 28 and will be held in the Seay Theatre in the University’s Walton Fine Arts Center. The public is invited to attend and tickets are $8 each. Sylvia revolves around Greg and Kate, who have moved to Manhattan after 22 years of child-raising in the suburbs. Greg’s career as a financial trader is winding down, while Kate’s career, as a public-school English teacher, is beginning to offer her more opportunities. Greg brings home a dog he found in the park—or that has found him—bearing only the name “Sylvia” on her name tag. A street-smart mixture of Lab and Poodle, Sylvia becomes a major bone of contention between husband and wife. She offers Greg an escape from the frustrations of his job and the unknowns of middle age. To Kate, Sylvia becomes a rival for affection. And Sylvia thinks Kate just doesn’t understand the relationship between man and dog. The marriage is put in serious jeopardy until, after a series of hilarious and touching complications, Greg and Kate learn to compromise, and Sylvia becomes a valued part of their lives Rebecca Bailey, assistant professor of theatre, is the director of the play. The cast includes, Tiffany Quinton as Sylvia, Rhett Sells as Greg, Haley Hanks as Kate and Haley Wheeler as Tom, Phyllis and Leslie. The crew includes, Lucas Hoiland as lighting designer, Jimmy Reiner as stage manager, Petron Brown as assistant stage manager, Billy Wilburn as costume designer, Quinton as assistant costume designer, Mason Clough as set designer, Hannah Bradow as sound designer, Wheeler as graphic designer, Nichole Finch as props master, Daniel Hall as technical director, Sydney Ward as light board operator and Kenzie Lewis as sound board operator. Other crew members are, Fion Chen, Taylor McFarland, Kevin Nawa, Lacye Day, Ethan Lubera, Haley Grace Clark and the stage craft class. The New York Times said, “Dramatic literature is stuffed with memorable love scenes, but none is as immediately delicious and dizzy as the one that begins the redeeming affair in A.R. Gurney's new comedy, Sylvia…” The New York Daily News said, “I can only call it one of the most involving, beautiful, funny, touching and profound plays I have ever seen…” Backstage said, “Gurney's mad comedy is the most endearing good time to trot down the pike in many a moon. Howlingly funny…” 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. University of the Ozarks and the Clarksville-Johnson County Chamber of Commerce will present the inaugural First Friday in downtown Clarksville on Friday, April 5. The community event will be held on the corner of Main Street and the Spadra Trail and will run from 5-8:30 p.m. 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. The entertainment for the inaugural event will feature Arkansas singer-songwriter Shannon Wurst, whose musical style has been described as “indie folk country rootsy goodness.” A native of Alma who currently lives in Fayetteville, Wurst said her musical influences include Carol King, Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt, Alison Krauss, Elizabeth Cotton, Emmylou Harris and James Taylor. According to her website, “Blending classic country with traditional bluegrass, Wurst’s musical arrangements effortlessly push her style into new territory. This work has landed her national attention. The timeless, roots-based songs from her latest album Sugar and Kerosene (released in Spring 2018) like “Better Than Bourbon” and “Devil and Saint” have a yearning tension that she delivers with sweet smile.” A review from Sing Out Folk Music Magazine stated, “Shannon Wurst is among that rare breed who can make you sit upright and wonder aloud, ‘Who is that?’ She is unquestionably arresting. Shannon Wurst is a rising star who has opened for Robert Earl Keen, Railroad Earth and Carlene Carter.” The food trucks will also be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the same location on April 5. University of the Ozarks will examine the powerful therapeutic benefits of music and art in a program titled, “Healing Through the Arts,” on Thursday, April 11. The program, which is part of the University’s Walton Arts & Ideas Series, begins at 7 p.m. in the Rogers Conference Center on campus. It is free and open to the public “Healing Through the Arts” will feature Dr. Amanda Alders Pike (pictured, right), a 2005 U of O graduate and a board-certified art therapist from Florida, as well as Dr. Ellary Draper, assistant professor of music therapy at the University of Alabama. Art and music therapy is practiced in various clinical and community settings, including hospitals, psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, wellness centers, schools, crisis centers, forensic institutions, senior communities and private practice. After graduating from Ozarks, Pike moved to Mexico to focus on her art, teach English and attend an art therapy program. The experience helped her become bilingual in English and Spanish. Later, she earned a master’s degree in New York and a Ph.D. from Florida State University. From there, she developed an eclectic professional background, encompassing education, counseling, business and marketing. Pike established a private practice in South Florida as an art therapist which grew into a staffing company. She hired, trained, placed, and supervised art therapists in locations such as assisted living facilities, homeless shelters and eating disorder and substance abuse recovery treatment centers. In 2017, her company was purchased by a larger company. Pike currently works as in educational leadership and as a curriculum content manager with the American College of Education. Draper holds degrees in music education from Westminster Choir College and music therapy from Florida State University. Her Ph.D. is in music and human learning from the University of Texas at Austin. She previously worked as a music therapist with a variety of ages and populations outside of Houston. She also has experience as an elementary general music teacher. Her research interests are in the areas of children with disabilities, particularly in inclusive music classrooms. Currently, she serves as the Chair of Special Education for the Alabama Music Educators Association and Chair of the Standards of Clinical Practice Committee for the American Music Therapy Association. A regular presenter at national and regional music therapy and music education conferences, her research is also published in the Journal of Music Therapy, Journal of Research in Music Education, Music Educators Journal, UPDATE: Applications of Research in Music Education, General Music Today, imagine, and Ala Breve. 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. Award-winning filmmaker Morgan Dameron, who has worked on Hollywood blockbusters such as “Star Trek: Into Darkness” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” will speak about the making of movies in a public event at University of the Ozarks on Thursday, March 7. The event, which is part of the University’s Walton Arts & Ideas Series, begins at 7 p.m. in the Rogers Conference Center. It is open to the public and admission is free. A native of Kansas City, Mo., Dameron has worked as a writer, director and producer. She has worked on numerous major films, including “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation.”  Her talk at U of O is titled, “Hollywood Behind the Scenes: The Making of a Movie.”  Using her extensive experience on the set of some of the most popular movies of the 21st Century, as well as her own projects ranging from feature films to commercials, Dameron will discuss scripts, pre-production, casting, cinematography, special effects, distribution and other aspects of filmmaking. There will also be a Q & A session following her talk. Morgan DameronDameron served as the personal assistant to filmmaker J.J. Abrams, who directed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and she even had a credited cameo appearance in the movie as resistance officer Commodore Meta. When writing the film's script, Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan used Dameron's surname for the title character of Poe Dameron, feeling it had a very Star Wars feel to it. Dameron first picked up a video camera at age eight and has not set one down since. She received a Trustee scholarship to the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts, where she graduated summa cum laude. Her award-winning short films have been selected to play at film festivals worldwide. Her feature directorial debut, “Different Flowers,” premiered to sold out crowds at the 32nd Santa Barbara International Film Festival and opened theatrically with AMC Theatres. “Different Flowers,” which Dameron also wrote, tells the story of combative sisters Millie and Emma. On the day of Millie’s wedding, Emma helps her run away, and they hit the road together. The film can now be seen on all digital platforms and was sold to Showtime. Dameron has also directed branded content garnering tens of millions of views. She was selected for the Ryan Murphy HALF Foundation Director mentorship program, and shadowed director Gwyneth Horder-Payton on the set of American Horror Story Season 7.  She recently received the “Spirit of Kansas City” award from Kansas City Women in Film and Television for her work furthering the filmmaking community. She lives in Los Angeles with a growing collection of ukuleles. 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 is expected to welcome more than 500 alumni, friends and family members to campus for a variety of events and reunions during Homecoming 2018, scheduled for Oct. 25-28. In recent years, the University has combined its traditional alumni weekend with homecoming to make one larger campus-wide celebration. This year, family weekend will also be a part of Homecoming 2018. “We combined the events a couple of years ago so that alumni and current students would have more opportunities for interaction and it’s worked out even better than we had anticipated,” said Lori McBee, vice president for advancement. “This year we have an added bonus of family weekend being a part of Homecoming, so it will be a great opportunity for our alumni, current students and their parents to take part in a large number of events we have scheduled.” The weekend will include numerous family-friendly events, including a Raku pottery workshop on Friday, an alumni and friends fun run and walk on Saturday morning, soccer matches and a tailgate and family carnival on Saturday afternoon, a youth cheer camp on Saturday afternoon and the All Hallows Eve Concert on Saturday evening. There will also be the annual Alumni Awards Ceremony on Friday evening in the Rogers Conference Center. This year’s recipients will include, Fidel Samour ’08 of Little Rock, Ark., with the Young Alumni Service Award; Maria Denise Duarte ’08 of Managua, Nicaragua, with the Young Alumni Achievement Award; Kent Cecil ’80 of Clarksville with the Alumni Achievement Award; Kaye (Bagsby) Person ’77 of Tuckerman, Ark., with the Alumni Merit Award; and the Jimmie ’53 and Laura Anne (Self) Thames ’52 family with the Alumni Legacy Award. Other events throughout the weekend include, the alumni golf tournament on Friday morning, a bonfire on Friday evening, a Walton Arts & Ideas Series lecture by 3-D printing prosthetics advocate Jen Owen on Thursday evening, Yoga on the Mall on Saturday morning, a Fall Festival on the campus mall on Saturday evening, a Memorial Chapel Service on Sunday morning and various decade reunions. “We’ve got more than 30 different events throughout the weekend for our alumni, students and families to enjoy,” McBee said. “This is by far the most events we’ve ever had for Homecoming weekend and we believe we have something everyone.” Most of the events are open to the public and many do not have a cost for admission. For a complete schedule or to register, please visit or contact the Alumni Office at 979-1234.