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Homecoming 2018 To Welcome Alumni & Families

Homecoming 2018 To Welcome Alumni & Families

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. University of the Ozarks’ music department will present the 18th annual All Hallows Eve Concert in Munger-Wilson Chapel, beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27. The All Hallows Eve Concert is traditionally one of the University’s most popular musical events of the year and will feature music by the U of O music ensembles, under the leadership of choral director Dr. Jonathan Ledger, as well as by Walton Professor of Music and University organist Dr. Sharon Gorman. Dr. Gorman will present organ music that will include the traditional Toccata in D minor of J. S. Bach, as well as selections from Harry Potter, Superman, Stars Wars and other popular movies. The choral numbers have traditionally included, Little Shop of Horrors, Shakespeare’s MacBeth, Sam Pottle’s Jabberwocky, Mendelssohn’s Hexenlied and Disney movies Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Little Mermaid. There is no cost for admission to the concert and it is open to the public. The program is child-friendly and audience members are invited and encouraged to come in costume. The University of the Ozarks’ Alumni Association will recognize four distinguished alumni as well as a family with deep ties to the University during its annual Alumni Awards Ceremony, scheduled to take place during Homecoming 2018, Oct. 25-28. The awards ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, in the Rogers Conference Center. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at or by calling the Alumni Office at 479-979-1234. This year’s honorees 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 ’52 and Laura Anne (Self) Thames ’52 family with the Alumni Legacy Award. Fidel Samour ‘08 Samour serves as the director of community clinical programs at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, where he has worked since 2008. He manages statewide mobile dental clinics that reach underserved children in Arkansas and is also leading a telemedicine pilot program in several Arkansas schools.  Samour, who earned an MBA from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2014, serves as board president of Reach Out and Read Arkansas, an early literacy program that works with pediatricians across the state to encourage reading in children under the age of five. He is also a board member for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkoma. Maria Denise Duarte ‘08 Duarte is the country manager in her home country of Nicaragua for Agora Partnerships, a non-profit organization that helps entrepreneurs throughout Latin America access the resources they need to grow. She leads a team of consultants in projects to assist women entrepreneurs through both traditional and innovative programs. The former Walton Scholar at Ozarks graduated with Summa Cum Laude honors in accounting, marketing and management and went on to earn an MBA from the Hult International Business School in San Francisco. She has also worked as a financial auditor at PwC Nicaragua and PwC Panama from 2008-12. She and her husband, Alvaro Artiles, have a young son. Kent Cecil ‘80 Cecil is president and CEO of Cecil Hardware in Clarksville, a business that has been a staple in downtown Clarksville since his parents, Jack and Katie Cecil, purchased the former Rice Hardware business in 1960. A business major at Ozarks, Kent has worked at Cecil Hardware since he graduated from college and began managing it in 2006 when his father, Jack, passed away. Known for their customer service and civic-mindedness, Cecil Hardware remains a true family business. Katie is still involved in the business, as are Kent’s wife, Terri; children, Chase Cecil and Amber (Johnson) Cecil; and daughter-in-law, Derenda (Landry) Cecil. Kent and Terri have been married for 39 years. Kaye (Bagsby) Person ’77 Person recently retired after 39 years as a teacher and educator, including 32 years teaching music in Tuckerman, Ark. She began her teaching career in 1977 as a teacher/director of the Taylor Street Child Development Center in Clarksville before spending the next five years teaching in Wynne (Ark.) schools. A native of Clarksville who graduated from high school at age 16, Person earned a bachelor’s degree from Ozarks in applied voice and music education. In 1974, she became the first person of color to win the Miss College of the Ozarks Pageant and went on to become the first black woman to finish as high as second runner-up in the Miss Arkansas pageant, where she won the Coleman Dairy Overall Talent Award. After graduating from Ozarks, she earned a master’s degree in elementary education from Arkansas State University. She met her husband, Paul Person ‘78, at Ozarks and they have one child. The Jimmie ’52 and Laura Anne (Self) ’52 Thames Family The Thames family has been associated with Ozarks for almost 70 years, dating back to when the late Rev. Jimmie Thames ’52 and Laura Anne (Self) Thames ’52 met at then C of O in the early 1950s. Jimmie and Laura were married for 26 years before she died in 1978. Jimmie, who served as a Presbyterian minister in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas for 42 years, passed away in 2015. Three of Jimmie and Laura’s four children — Alan Thames ’80, Jeff Thames ’85 and Elizabeth (Thames) Allcon ’91 — all graduated from Ozarks. The other child, Richard Thames, went into the United States Air Force out of high school. Both Alan and Jeff met their spouses at Ozarks — Alan’s wife, Judy (Cordle) ’81, and Jeff’s wife, Angela (Phelps) Thames ’86. In addition, family cousin Paul Beard ’83 also graduated from Ozarks. In keeping with the family tradition, Elizabeth’s daughter, Laura Allcon, is a freshman at the University this semester. Voorhees School, the University of the Ozarks’ iconic rock-walled building that has anchored the southwest corner of campus for nearly eight decades, has been selected for inclusion into the prestigious National Register of Historic Places. Known as Voorhees Hall for much of the past 70 years, it was among 30 properties throughout the U.S. named to the national register by the National Park Service earlier this month. The register is the official list of the nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Completed in 1941 as Voorhees School, it is the third U of O property on the National Register of Historic Places, joining Munger-Wilson Memorial Chapel (1933) and MacLean Hall (1927). “Voorhees School tells a story of alumni spirit and the University’s faithful tradition of service to its community, state, and nation,” said U of O President Richard Dunsworth. “The designation is important to University of the Ozarks because it’s a resource that will help the University continue to grow its legacy as a high-quality liberal arts college that honors the people who carved out such an impressive history in the landscape of time.” Construction on Voorhees began in the late 1930s as a joint project between the college and the Clarksville schools. It was built by the National Youth Administration (NYA) for $21,700 and named after Mary T. Voorhees of Clinton, N.J., who made several donations for the construction of the building. Voorhees School was originally used as a practice teaching school by the college’s education students to teach ninth-graders in the Clarksville area. It was used as a school for just over a year before the college turned over the campus to the U.S. Navy during World War II in 1944-45 to be used as a training facility. Voorhees was one of the primary teaching facilities for the early radar training during the 16-month period the Navy utilized the campus. Over the years, the building has housed the state’s first pharmacy school as well as a student union, alumni and public relations offices, an art museum and art classes, the Walton International Scholarship Program offices and psychology laboratories. It is currently being renovated and will be leased as a restaurant by Shane and Angela Kasper, former owners of Pasta Grill in Clarksville. Kasper’s restaurant is expected to open in January. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources. Pre-registration is currently underway for a wide variety of events and gatherings that will make up the University of the Ozarks’ Homecoming 2018, scheduled for Oct. 25-28. Formerly known as Alumni Weekend, Homecoming 2018 is a weekend for alumni and current students, as well as their families, to share and celebrate the special bond that exists between members of the Ozarks family. Family Weekend, which welcomes to campus the parents and other family members of current students, will also be held during Homecoming weekend this year. The activities will begin with a Paint the Town Purple event on Sunday, Oct. 21. Other highlights of Homecoming will include intercollegiate soccer matches, the Alumni Award Ceremony, Alumni Golf Tournament, a 5K fun run/walk, a bonfire pep rally, art reception and numerous class reunions. Many of the events are open to the general public. A new Homecoming event but long-time tradition at Ozarks is the All Hallows Eve Concert, scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27, in Munger-Wilson Chapel. In its 18th year, this annual late-October concert is one of the University’s most unique and popular traditions. Featuring organist Dr. Sharon Gorman and the University’s music ensembles, led by Dr. Jonathan Ledger, this concert features traditional as well as pop culture pieces ranging from Harry Potter to Phantom of the Opera. There is no cost for admission to the concert. For more information or to register, please visit University of the Ozarks senior Jae Lynn Huckaba’s essay titled, “Regnant Populus,” took top honors in the University’s 13th annual Earth Day Essay competition, announced during Honors Day. Huckaba, an English and Spanish major from Forrest City, Ark., won the $400 first-place Workman Award for her essay. Prizes for the top four places were donated by long-time Ozarks supporters Dr. Wayne and Betty Workman. Huckaba’s essay examined the efforts that the city of Clarksville is doing to combat environmental threats and to promote sustainability, such as the Scenic Hill Solar Plant, the Food for Thought Garden, and the expansion of the Spadra Creek Nature Trail. Huckaba wrote: “Though Clarksville, Arkansas, only occupies a small, rural portion of Arkansas, and an even smaller portion of the United States, the city’s citizens and its recent initiatives are proving that no challenge is too insurmountable for a united community to overcome. To ensure environmental progress and effectively address contemporary environmental challenges, citizens of the United States must begin taking initiative and accept their responsibility in promoting positive environmental change. Though many European nations have proved their environmental competence and willingness to foster change, the United States does not have to search as far as another continent for inspiration. The people rule, and regarding progress towards addressing contemporary environmental challenges, the people of small-town Clarksville, Arkansas, are setting an example worthy of emulation.” The second-place prize of $300 went to Erika Henderson’s essay titled, “Our Environmental Progress.” Third place went to Dax Clark’s essay, “Improvements Toward a Greener Earth,” and fourth place went to Jasmine Rosales’ “Essay in Honor of Earth Day.” Event organizer Brian Hardman, professor of English, said 16 students submitted essays in this year’s contest. The judges for this year’s competition were Dr. Eddie Ardeneaux, Debbie Eldridge, and Dr. Warren Sconiers. University of the Ozarks presented its top division and university academic awards on May 2 during the 61st annual Honors Day ceremony, held in the Walton Fine Arts Center.

Hurie Award

Hailey Hardgrave Hurie AwardHailey Hardgrave, a senior biology major from Hartman, Ark., was presented the Hurie Award as the outstanding member of the Class of 2018 by University President Richard Dunsworth. Named for former Ozarks President Wiley Lin Hurie, the award is selected by the faculty and given to the outstanding member of the senior class. Hardgrave serves as the president of both the Ozarks Biological Society and the University chapter of the Tri-Beta national biology honor society. She has made the U of O President’s List academic honor roll in each of her semester’s at Ozarks. She has completed two summer internships at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and has worked as a clinical research assistant at the hospital. Hardgrave will pursue a medical degree at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in the fall. Hardgrave was also named the Outstanding Senior in Biology.

Honors Day Recipients

Other Honors Day recipients for 2018 included, Roseanna Ezell (Outstanding Student in Accounting), Kelli Palmer (Outstanding Student in Business Administration), Miguel Cuellar (Outstanding Student in Economics), Dalton Schultz (Outstanding Student in Management), Chance Silvey (Outstanding Student in Marketing), Kelechi Nkalari (Outstanding Service Award in Business), Ariana Lujan (Outstanding Student in Education), Maranda Watson (Outstanding Student in Secondary Education), Stephanie Alderson (Outstanding Student in Elementary Education), Stephanie Payton (Amanda Alders Pike Award in Art), Aubree Sisson (Imogen Ragon Award in Art), Azalia Molina (Outstanding Student in Art), Berenice Osorio (Outstanding Student in Communication and the Robert Berry Fulton Award in Communication), Luis Alfaro (Robert Berry Fulton Award in Communication) and Andres Jimenez (Robert Berry Fulton Award in Communication). Also receiving awards were, Jake Sawyer (Outstanding Student in English), Haley Hanks (Outstanding Student in History), Megan Ahne (Outstanding Student in Music), Emilie “Weave” Williams (Outstanding Student in Philosophy), Catherine Varvel (Outstanding Student in Religion), Jae Lynn Huckaba (Outstanding Student in Spanish), Kimberly “Layce” Day (Outstanding Student in Theatre), Valeria Robleto (Outstanding Senior in Chemistry), Nicole Wood (Outstanding Student in Health Science), Jelena Petrovic (Outstanding Student in Mathematics), Nicole Justice (Outstanding Student in Political Science), Elias Loria (Bachelor of Science in Psychology Award), Bahar Yapal (C. Wright Mills Award in Sociology), and Haley Deatherage (Outstanding Environmental Student Award.) Ariana Lujan, Shelby Morales and Ana Sofia Camargo Montenegro took home the top honors at the 2018 A.R.C.H. (Advanced Research and Creative Highlights) Symposium. The competition was held on April 23 and the winners were announced on May 2 at the University’s 61st annual Honors Day. The sixth annual A.R.C.H. competition is an opportunity for Ozarks students to showcase their research and art projects from throughout the academic year. This year’s event drew 40 students and 35 projects across a wide variety of disciplines. Lujan, a senior elementary education major from Little Elm, Texas, took first place in the oral presentation category for her project, “Pioneers of Poetry: Reflections on Student Learning.” Thomas Ross was the runner-up in the category with his presentation titled, “Analysis of the Traveling Salesman: Problem and Combination of the Random Tour and Nearest Neighbor Algorithms.” Morales, a senior biology and chemistry major, took first-place honors in the poster presentation category for her project, “The Effect of Serotonin on Brain Endothelial Cells.” The second-place finisher in the poster category was Julio Molina Pineda for his poster titled, “Comparing Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Between Organic and Pesticide/Herbicide-Treated Soils.” Camargo Montenegro, a junior art major, won top honors in the visual arts category for her artwork, “Hablando Flores.” The runner-up in visual arts was Aubree Sisson for her project, “Family Ties.” The University of the Ozarks’ Board of Trustees presented its annual faculty and staff awards during the 2018 Trustees Awards Banquet, held April 27 in the Rogers Conference Center. Among the recipients for 2018 were (pictured, from left) Patti Schuh, enrollment data manager; Debbie Siebenmorgen, accountant; Tammy Harrington, professor of art; Susan Edens, assistant professor of practice for communication; and Lisa Gruben-Inness, office manager for the Jones Learning Center. Harrington and Edens each received the Richard and Katherene Bagwell Outstanding Faculty Award. Gruben-Inness was honored with the Arnold G. Sims Outstanding Staff Award and Siebenmorgen earned the Alvin C. Broyles Outstanding Staff Award. Schuh was presented the 2018 Dr. Rick and Sheree Niece President’s Above and Beyond Outstanding Service Award. Several other faculty and staff members also received service awards, including Heather Dickerson, Gruben-Inness, Dr. Joel Hagaman, Dr. Brett Stone, Greg Stone, Marilyn Harris and Susan McKee for 10 years of service; Monica Frizzell, Dr. Deborah Sisson, Eddie Wood and Glenda Wood for 15 years; Felecia Atkinson, Lou Chapman, Edens and Kimberly Spicer for 20 years; Dawn Schull Dvoracek for 25 years; and Deborah Mooney and Stuart Stelzer for 35 years. The trustees also recognized five employees who announced their retirements this year: Marian Askins, office manager for the Mathematics and Sciences Division; Dr. Rickey Casey, professor of management and former director of the Walton International Scholarship program; Lou Chapman, academic program coordinator in the JLC; John Hodge, maintenance technician; and Carl Ramsey, head women’s basketball coach. University of the Ozarks will award bachelor degrees to 101 graduating seniors during its 2018 Spring Commencement ceremony, scheduled for 10 a.m., Saturday, May 12, on the campus mall. Dr. Eric Steinmiller, a 2002 Ozarks graduate who is an educator, instructional leader and administrator in Chicago, will serve as the keynote speaker during Commencement. A Baccalaureate service will be held at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 11, in Munger-Wilson Chapel, followed by the Brick and Coin Ceremony on the campus mall. Families of the graduates are invited to attend Friday’s events. Originally from Arkadelphia, Ark., Steinmiller has served as a teacher and administrator for 15 years in Texas, Louisiana and Illinois. Currently, he has taken on a new role as an administrator for an under-performing, under-resourced neighborhood school at Roosevelt High School in Chicago. He is leading the development of the Special Education program, English Language Learners program servicing a large number of refugee students. He is building instructional practice and accountability while establishing systems and structures for continuous improvement. He was recently the head master and principal at Sutherland Elementary in Chicago, where he developed an International Baccalaureate curriculum and eliminated the achievement gap between white and African American students in reading and math, while demonstrating increasing performance on national growth in both areas. He also improved special education student performance from 52nd to 99th percentile in reading and 56th to 86th percentile in math amongst national peers. After graduating from Ozarks, Steinmiller went on to earn 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. The student’s welcome at Commencement will be provided by Ariana Lujan, an elementary education major from Little Elm, Texas. University Chaplain Rev. Jeremy Wilhelmi will provide the proclamation during the Baccalaureate service. The Commencement ceremony will be livestreamed on the University’s Facebook page.