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Ozarks Team Places Second at State Mathematics Competition

Ozarks Team Places Second at State Mathematics Competition

The University of the Ozarks team of David Bondy, Juan Fernando de la Cruz, Nicolas Dunsworth and Richard Javier Rodriguez took home second place overall in the 2020 Arkansas Undergraduate Mathematics Competition, held Feb. 29 at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia.

It is the second consecutive year that a team from Ozarks has finished in the top two in the state-wide competition. Rodriguez and de la Cruz were part of Ozarks’ first-place team in last year’s event, the first U of O team to ever finish first overall in the AUMC.

A total of 10 teams from five universities competed in this year’s event, with Henderson State taking first place.

Also competing for Ozarks were, Jonathan Duffel, Nadine Karabaranga, Dakota Frits, Brilliant Pasipanodya, Misael Perez-Medina and Carlos Leon Beauregard.

Students competed in teams of 2-4 with no calculators, computers, books or notes available to them on the three-hour, 10-question test that emphasized problem-solving skills. Teams received 10 points for every correct answer and partial credit for incomplete but significant work.

The final results of the competition were not tabulated and confirmed until more than two weeks after the competition. The students learned of the results last week, according to the U of O team’s sponsor, Dr. Matt Myers, professor of mathematics. “All of our students competed with character and integrity and we are proud of the way they represented Ozarks,” Myers said.

“All of our students demonstrate a true passion for mathematics and they enjoyed the opportunity to test their skills against other top students from throughout the state.”

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 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. The University of the Ozarks’ Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) team captured a total of 20 top-five finishes at the 2018 PBL State Leadership Conference, held April 6-7 in Little Rock.


PBL members from U of O tallied two first-place awards, seven second-place finishes, four third-place awards and seven other top-five honors during the annual state-wide event that draws PBL chapters from universities and colleges throughout the state. For Ozarks, the team of Jose Salinas, Franchesca Garcia, and Luis Robles took first place in the category of Global Analysis & Decision Making. In the category of Marketing Analysis & Decision Making, the Ozarks team of Falon Hanson, Katherinn Lopez, and Henry Marin also won first-place honors. The University’s second-place finishers included Oscar Roldan in Entrepreneurship Concepts, K.C. Nkalari in Future Business Executive and Public Speaking, Gladis Alvarez in Human Resource Management, Laura Gochez in Management Concepts, Thibault Melchior in Marketing Concepts and the team of Lorenzo Bac and Maria Corea in Strategic Analysis & Decision Making. The third-place finishers for Ozarks were Ohany Roman in Accounting Principles, Melchior in Macroeconomics, Marin in Client Services and Rowan Westheimer in Social Media Challenge. Other students who placed in the top five were, Yailin Blackman, Melisa Brenes, Isaias Zapata, Ester Lopez and Ronald Flores. There are several events for the community that the University will be presenting this Halloween season.

Friday, October 27

The University will host a Safe Trick or Treat Night for children from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Rogers Conference Center. Both events are free and open to the public. The All Hallows Eve Concert will begin at 7 p.m. in the Munger-Wilson Chapel. The Safe Trick or Treat Night is presented by the Residential Hall Association (RHA) and will include candy, books and interactive programming for children 12-and-under. Children are encouraged to wear their costumes and parents can accompany their children. The All Hallows Eve Concert will feature University organist and pianist Dr. Sharon Gorman as well as the Chamber Singers, under the direction of Dr. Jonathan Ledger. Pianist Bethany Qualls and Professor of English Dr. David Strain will also accompany the performance. The program will include selections from Beauty and the Beast, Jurassic Park, Tangled, 101 Dalmatians, Wonder Woman, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Star Wards and Phantom of the Opera.  The concert is child-friendly and audience members are invited and encouraged to come in costume.

Friday - Sunday, October 27-29

The Campus Activities Board will present a Stephen King-themed Haunted House for middle school-aged children and older as well as adults. It is not recommended for young children. Admission to the Haunted House is $5 or free with an Ozarks ID. Proceeds will be donated to the Ozarks Annual Fund. The Haunted House will be held in Voorhees Hall on Johnson Street. Friday - 8-11 p.m. Saturday - 7-11 p.m. Sunday - 6-10 p.m. For more information on any of these events, please contact the University’s Office of Marketing and Public Relations at 979-1433. Former University of Maryland All-American and NBA player Adrian Branch will speak at University of the Ozarks at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 17, in the Rogers Conference Center. The event is sponsored by the University’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) as well as the athletic program. It is open to the public and there is no cost for admission. Branch was a two-time honorable mention All-American at Maryland and finished as the program’s third all-time leading scorer. He went on to play three seasons in the NBA, including on the 1987 NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. He has served in the ministry and as a television sports analyst since retiring from his playing career. Branch will speak on how taking life one day at a time in faith has assured him of being a “world champion.” One of the core values of University of the Ozarks is “the service of all of creation,” and that driving principle was on full display during a recent mission trip to El Salvador by the student organization Rotaract. Rotaract is a Rotary-sponsored university club for young men and women ages 18 to 30. A group of seven students from the organization traveled with advisor Cindy Lanphear, assistant professor of practice management and business, to El Salvador during the University’s spring break, from March 17-25. The group joined with local Rotary clubs in San Salvador to take part in several volunteer projects, including assisting in a Habitat for Humanity International project and providing shoes and backpacks filled with school supplies to rural children. The funding for the trip and projects were secured through a Rotaract swim meet fund-raiser as well as through donations from area Rotary clubs in Clarksville, Russellville and Dardanelle. The Rotaract group, which had about 28 students in the organization this academic year, also received an Alumni Enrichment Award from the U of O Alumni Association. Selena Haunty, a student from Belton, Mo., and president of Rotaract, said the mission trip was one she will never forget. “I think I learned for the first time what it really means to serve others,” said Haunty. “To see people from these different Rotary organizations come together and make a difference was amazing. It had a big impact on me.” In the Habitat for Humanity project, the students worked with limited tools to help dig a foundation and build the flooring and walls on a residential home.
"UniversityA group from the University’s Rotaract chapter recently took part in a mission trip to El Salvador, where they worked on a Habitat for Humanity International project.
“It felt great to work hard as a team and watch the difference you were making,” said senior Meghan Mansur. “We actually met and saw the people who were going to be living in the house, which made it even more special.” The projects with the school children also made an impact on the U of O students. “You saw things like one teacher for two different grades and even classes where the older children were teaching the younger ones because some of the teachers were absent,” said Ederlee Gomez of Clarksville. “We also saw really young children walking to school by themselves, something you’d never see in the United States. To know that we were able to provide shoes and school supplies to the children was very satisfying.” The students stayed with local host families, which enrichened the experience. “To live with the families and eat the local foods added to the total experience,” said senior Doug Rye. “It made me realize that in some ways the world is bigger than what I’d thought, but it also made me realize that people are the same in a lot of ways, no matter where they live.”
"UniversityWhile in El Salvador, the Rotaract group had dinner with several Ozarks alumni.
The students also has an opportunity to meet and interact with Rotarians from El Salvador as well as Ozarks alumni living in the area. “There were team-building events and cookouts with the other Rotarians, which was a great bonding and networking experience,” said Meghan. “It was also great to meet alumni and share our connections.” Lanphear said the mission trip to El Salvador epitomized what Rotaract and U of O are all about. “Part of Rotaract’s mission is taking part in international trips and exchanges and to serve others, which is also a part of this University’s mission,” Lanphear said. “Experiences like these make students more aware and appreciative of what we have here and it makes them realize that they can make a difference for people who are less fortunate. They have an increased awareness of what they can do in this world.” Valeria “Vale” Robleto is ready to get to work on behalf of her fellow classmates who elected her University of the Ozarks? Student Government Association president for the 2017-18 academic year.
"ValeriaValeria "Vale" Robleto was elected SGA president for 2017-18.
Robleto, a senior-to-be chemistry and biology major from Nicaragua, was elected SGA president during the student elections, held April 20-21. She won the election by garnering 130 of the 183 votes cast. Robleto has served as president of the Catholic Campus Ministries, as vice president of the Alchemist and as an Orientation Leader. She is also a member of the university’s swim team and was the SGA vice president this past year. “I’m honored to be selected to represent t the students at Ozarks,” said Robleto, who served with SGA for two years. “To know that your classmates trust you to represent them is a very big responsibility and honor. I’ve got a lot of ideas and plans that I can’t wait to start working on.” Among the initiatives that Robleto hopes to work on for the student body are new social media platforms for students, enhanced security measures for students living in apartments adjacent to campus and more student involvement with the Clarksville community. “This is a great university and great campus, and we want to make it even better,” she said. Also during the elections, Eve Pinzon was elected SGA vice president. In other results, Chance Silvey was elected president of Campus Activities Board and Ethan Lubera was chosen as vice president of CAB. Paul Jarvis was elected president of Residential Housing Authority and Chance Shultz was selected as vice president. Nicole Justice was elected chair of the Budget Allocation Committee. SGA senators who were elected to serve one-year terms were, Zoe Sherman, Angelica Ordonez, Luis Robles, Yessina Alvarez, Gabriel Lavoi, Jake Sawyer, Robert Norton and Ben Howard. One of the University of the Ozarks' newest student organizations, Wordsmiths, recently spent a weekend in the Big Easy, soaking up the culture and gleaning inspiration from a regional poetry festival. Several members of Wordsmiths, the creative writing club that was organized in 2016, travelled to New Orleans to attend the second annual New Orleans Poetry Festival. They attended various panel discussions and poetry readings by well-known scholars and poets and also had the opportunity to meet and talk with many of them. The trip left a lasting impression on the five students who accompanied Ozarks professors Chris Carrier and his wife, Dawn Holder to the festival. Carrier is the advisor of the organization, which was named the University's Up-and-Coming Organization of the Year for 2016-17 during this week's Leadership Awards ceremony.
"MembersMembers of the University of the Ozarks' student organization Wordsmiths who attended the New Orleans Poetry Festival were (from left) Jake Sawyer, Lauren Dotson, Samuel Binns, Taylor Snellback, Ariana Lujan and Professor Chris Carrier.
"Although our time in New Orleans was short, I feel like we all walked away with new-found inspiration," said Ariana Lujan. "Sitting in each of the readings and panels made me realize the importance of listening to a variety of voices, and how we all have something to learn from those around us. Something that stuck out for me was the community that was present at the conference; readers or presenters from one panel would go to another, and that idea of 'community' is something that can be translated to education." The group had the opportunity to enjoy a walking tour of some of the cultural and literary sites in the French Quarter, including the Mississippi River, Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo, Preservation Hall Jazz Club, William Faulkner House of Books, and Tennessee Williams' residence. They also were able to see a jazz show and eat beignets at famous Caf? du Monde in the French Quarter. "The trip to the New Orleans Poetry Festival is going down as one of the coolest things I have done since coming to Ozarks, and that is saying a lot," said freshman Jake Sawyer. "The festival itself was amazing, being able to rub elbows with nationally known poets, talk about their work and listen to their readings. Then just the time we got to spend wandering around the French Quarter in New Orleans. We ate local Cajun and creole food for every meal, visited a bookstore in a house where William Faulkner lived and wrote, and listened to a New Orleans Jazz band in a cafe. As an English major with an interest in writing, being in a city with such a rich literary history and distinct feel was invaluable. I wrote more in those three days than I have in the last month. I've come away from New Orleans with a lot of new ideas, a couple new books, and a wealth of experiences that won't fade easily from my mind." Samuel Binns, president of Wordsmiths, said the trip was the perfect way for the club to celebrate National Poetry Month. "I greatly benefited from the intimacy of the New Orleans Poetry Festival as we were able to meet many writers, listen to them read, and contribute to discussions in the panels," Binns said. "We were also able to be a part of a broader creative writing community, which gave us a great example for our own facilitation and development of a creative writing community on campus. We explored the writing spirit that is unique to the city, and it was the perfect location to celebrate National Poetry Month and receive new material and encouragement for our endeavors." Wordsmiths, which has about 12 members this semester, seeks to promote the creation and appreciation of creative writing and the literary arts at U of O and for the members of its community through a variety of programs, including student-led workshops, group writing projects, community readings, and field trips. The University of the Ozarks' Enactus team won a regional championship for the 27th consecutive year during competition on April 8, in Dallas, Texas. The U of O chapter of the student business organization now advances to the 2017 Enactus United States National Exposition in Kansas City, Mo., from May 22-24. This year's team had 45 active members and completed seven projects, with 489 hours of community service and 6,025 individuals impacted. Among the projects the group took part in were Pro-English, a program designed to assist non-English speakers with English lessons, and programs to promote entrepreneurship and ethics awareness. It was the 27th consecutive year that the University's Enactus team has advanced out of regional competition and qualified for nationals. "I was so impressed to see the amount of community service that our Enactus members volunteered throughout the year," said Business Professor Dr. Rickey Casey. "They also did a tremendous job with their presentation at the regionals. To compete and win for 27 consecutive years is a testament to the dedication and talent of our students at University of the Ozarks."
"UniversityThe University's Enactus team advanced to national competition by winning a regional competition in Dallas, Texas, on April 8.