Poff receives Fulbright Scholarship

Lyon College senior Jon-Michael Poff of Batesville has received an English Teaching Assistantship from the Fulbright Program. Poff will be traveling to the region of Cantabria in Spain in September where he will teach English for one year.

The Fulbright Scholarship is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Recipients of the grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

Poff originally heard about the program last year from friend and Lyon alumna Maci Powers, ’12. Last spring and summer, Poff researched more about the award, and, in early June, he met with Dr. Alan McNamee, who taught under the Fulbright Fellowship in Poland. Dr. McNamee is the Frank and Marion Bradley Lyon Professor of Accounting at Lyon.

During a sabbatical from 2000 to 2001, McNamee was selected to serve as Visiting Senior Lecturer in Accounting at the Leon Kozminski Academy of Entrepreneurship and Management in Warsaw, Poland. He has served as the campus Fulbright Program advisor for Lyon since 2002.

Over the next few months, Poff began the application process; this process included writing a statement of grant purpose and a personal statement, as well as meeting with a committee of faculty and staff who interviewed him for the program.

McNamee explains, “A campus evaluation committee of representative faculty and staff is convened to review the application and to personally interview the candidate. This committee then completes an evaluation form, which becomes part of the candidate’s application dossier.”

“I cannot thank them enough for their help in the application process,” Poff says about the faculty and staff committee, which included McNamee, Dr. Terrell Tebbetts, Dr. Monica Rodriguez, and Dean of Students Bruce Johnston.

Tebbetts said the selection for a Fulbright Fellow includes records, faculty and staff recommendations, and a self-presentation. “I helped him edit his written materials, but as anyone who’s seen Jon-Michael’s writing would guess, they needed very little editing. And anyone who’s heard Jon-Michael speak knows his interview must have gone beautifully.”

Poff said that in mid-October he and McNamee sent off the application. It took three months to hear that he was a finalist and then another three months to hear he had received the award.

“I got the e-mail around 10:50 a.m. as I was leaving my psychology class. [Senior] Hannah Williams was walking about 20 feet in front of me, so I yelled out, started running, and told her the news as I gave her the biggest hug of her life,” Poff said.

“I was thrilled to learn of Jon-Michael’s award of the grant in Spain. Assignments to Europe are extremely competitive, and this speaks highly of Jon-Michael’s ability as recognized by the Fulbright Committee,” McNamee says. “He will represent the United States, Arkansas, and Lyon College extremely well.”

In Spain, Poff will be working as a teaching assistant at a secondary school, teaching English and several other subjects, and helping with the school’s Model U.N. programs. Cantabria is a region in northern Spain on the coast of the Cantabrian Sea (Bay of Biscay).

Poff is a Batesville native; he has served the Student Government Association as secretary, vice president, and president. He has also been a part of the residence life staff as both a resident assistant and resident director in Spragins House, and is a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity, Alpha Chi National Honor Society, and numerous other campus organizations.

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas.

Robert Bailey, ’07, received a Fulbright fellowship in 2007 to teach English in Andorra. In addition to Dr. McNamee, Dr. Martha Beck, professor of philosophy, was awarded a Fulbright grant in 2011 that allowed her to teach in Indonesia for six months.

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Lyon board freezes tuition, fees for next year

The Lyon College Board of Trustees has frozen tuition and fees for the 2013-14 academic year in response to changes in the Arkansas lottery scholarship. It took this unusual action because it recognizes the need to keep Lyon affordable and accessible to students and their families, college officials said.

“The combined effect of the down economy, the uncertainty of the future, as well as the reduction in state scholarships has the families of our students and prospective students concerned,” President Donald Weatherman explained. “Lyon College does not want to add to their worries by placing an additional burden on them. That is the main reason the Board of Trustees decided to freeze tuition, room and board, and all fees at this year’s rate for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.”

Three and a half years ago, when the lottery scholarship took effect, most schools in Arkansas raised their tuition to match the new funds. Now, the Arkansas Legislature is lowering the amount available to incoming students. To help those students and their families access a premier liberal arts education, Lyon College has responded by freezing tuition and fees.

“The last few years have been very difficult for many families seeking higher education,” said David Heringer, vice president for administration. “Unemployment rates are high, prices on everything from food to gas have gone up, incomes have gone down, the Arkansas Challenge (lottery) Scholarship has been adjusted down, and the federal budget — which determines Pell Grants and student loan interest rates — is uncertain.

Heringer continued: “Given the current climate in higher education and obstacles facing families seeking a chance for their children, higher education must be sensitive to students and families’ needs. Lyon especially considers cost because of the composition of our student body. Nearly 50 percent qualify for low-income Pell Grants and 70 percent come from Arkansas. These are students and families potentially taking a double-hit from recent changes to the Arkansas Challenge Scholarship and rising tuition. But we’re doing what we can to help families.”

Heringer said the board’s action means “absolutely zero increase in cost of attendance — tuition, room, board, or fees — for the following school year. We are committed to keeping higher education affordable for students, their families, and our community.”

According to The College Board, the average 2012-13 tuition increase was 4.2 percent at private colleges, and 4.8 percent at public universities. The 10-year historical rate of increase is approximately 6 percent.

Lyon College has long been recognized as one of higher education’s best bargains among private, selective liberal arts colleges. More than 95 percent of Lyon students receive some form of financial assistance.

Lyon’s tuition for 2012-13 is $23,370; room and board is $7,560; and the student activity fee is $224, making a total comprehensive fee of $31,154. With the board’s action, the same fees will apply for 2013-14.

Last fall, Lyon made the list of 26 national liberal arts colleges whose students owed the least amount of money upon graduation, according to U.S. News & World Report.

U.S. News compiled a list of schools whose Class of 2011 graduated with the heaviest and lightest debt loads. The data include loans taken out by students from their colleges, from private financial institutions, and from federal, state, and local governments.

According to U.S. News, 44 percent of Lyon graduates were debt free, while 56 percent owed money when they graduated. The average amount of debt for Lyon’s 2011 graduates was $17,092, U.S. News said. Lyon is the only Arkansas college or university on the “Least Debt” list.

Vestal hired as Lyon College VP for institutional advancement

Jon Vestal has been hired as the new vice president for institutional advancement at Lyon College.

Vestal will begin the position Feb. 3, 2013. His duties will include securing philanthropic gifts, aligning all institutional advancement activities with the college’s mission and strategic priorities and working with the public to improve the college’s profile.

He said he plans to work with trustees, alumni, and friends to exceed fundraising goals and strengthen connections throughout the college’s broad constituency. Vestal said he also hopes to carry the message of the college to expanded audiences both regionally and nationally.

Vestal is currently the director of development at Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis. Previous to his position at Missouri Baptist University, Vestal was the Division Director for Robert Half International.

Vestal received a bachelor’s of science degree in finance from the University of Central Missouri and his master’s in business administration from Missouri Baptist University.

“We all look forward to having Mr. Vestal join us at Lyon,” said Lyon College President Dr. Donald Weatherman. “He will add considerable energy and a fresh perspective to both the advancement and marketing efforts of the college.”

Vestal is a member of the Baptist General Convention of Missouri, Future Leadership Foundation Advisory Board, International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities, Missouri Colleges Fund, St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association Higher Education Advisory Council and Sunset Hills Rotary Club. He is also a deacon at the First Baptist Church in Ellisville, Mo.

Vestal and his wife Maegan have two children, Mackenzie, 6, and Jackson, 2.

Vestal said he is looking forward to meeting the people who make Lyon what it is.

“I am excited to immerse myself into the rich culture and history of Lyon College, especially our Scottish heritage program,” he said.

“Lyon College has a heritage of success and strong reputation of academic excellence,” Vestal said. “I believe, under Dr. Weatherman’s leadership, the best days are ahead. I look forward to partnering with my staff and fellow cabinet members in further strategic advancements.”

Lyon College awarded Military Friendly Schools designation

Lyon College has been named to the list of Military Friendly Schools by Victory Media. The 2013 Military Friendly Schools list honors the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans, and spouses as students and ensure their success on campus.

“Inclusion on the 2013 list of Military Friendly Schools shows Lyon College’s commitment to providing a supportive environment for military students,” said Sean Collins, director for G.I. Jobs and vice president at Victory Media. “As interest in education grows we’re thrilled to provide the military community with transparent, world-class resources to assist in their search for schools.”

The Military Friendly Schools media and website, found at www.militaryfriendlyschools.com, feature the list, interactive tools and search functionality to help military students find the best school to suit their needs and preferences. The 1,739 colleges, universities and trade schools on this year’s list exhibit leading practices in the recruitment and retention of students with military experience.

Now in its fourth year, the 2013 list of Military Friendly Schools was compiled through extensive research and a data-driven survey of more than 12,000 VA-approved schools nationwide. Ernst and Young LLP independently verified the survey tabulation process, methodology and weightings that comprise the 2013 list.

A detailed list of 2013 Military Friendly Schools will be highlighted in the annual G.I. Jobs Guide to Military Friendly Schools, distributed in print and digital format to hundreds of thousands of active and former military personnel in early October.

Lyon College in top tier of U.S. News rankings for sixth consecutive year

Lyon College is ranked in the top tier of the best national liberal arts colleges for the sixth year in a row, according to the 2013 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges guidebook. Lyon also made the list of colleges whose studentsgraduated with the least debt load.

The Princeton Review also recently recognized Lyon as a “Best Southeastern College” in its annual report for the eighth consecutive year and Lyon is included in Forbes.com’s “America’s Best Colleges” ranking. In August, Washington Monthly magazine’s annual College Guide named Lyon to its list of the nation’s most socially beneficial liberal arts colleges.”

“The quality and value of a Lyon College education has once again been validated by these national rankings of the best colleges in America,” said Dr. Donald Weatherman, president of Lyon. “This is a tribute to the dedicated faculty, staff, and the Board of Trustees, who support our mission of providing the best education possible for our students.”

U.S. News categorizes the 1,391 ranked colleges by mission and — for regional institutions — by region. According to U.S. News, the national liberal arts colleges “emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half their degrees in the arts and sciences.” In Arkansas, only Lyon, Hendrix College and Ouachita Baptist University are included in this category.

U.S. News also ranks national universities, which offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master’s and Ph.D. degrees, and emphasize faculty research; regional universities, which offer undergraduate degrees and some master’s programs but few, if any, doctoral programs; and regional colleges, which focus on undergraduate education but grant fewer than 50 percent of their degrees inliberal arts disciplines. These last two categories are further classified by geographic region.

U.S. News also compiled a list of schools whose Class of 2011 graduated with the heaviest and lightest debt loads. The data include loans taken out by students from their colleges, from private financial institutions, and from federal, state, and local governments. Loans to parents are not included. Lyon made the list of 26 national liberal arts colleges whose students owed the least amount of money upon graduation.

According to U.S. News, 44 percent of Lyon graduates were debt free, while 56 percentowed money when they graduated. The average amount of debt for Lyon’s 2011 graduates was $17,092, U.S. News said. The college whose graduates had the “most debt” was Burlington College in Vermont. U.S. News said 90 percent of its graduates owed money and their average debt was $55,240. Lyon is the only Arkansas college or university on the “Least Debt” list.

Among the factors weighed in determining the Best Colleges rankings, the key measures of quality for national universities and national liberal arts colleges are: undergraduate academicreputation, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving, high school counselor ratings, and graduation rate performance.

The data collected from the survey of counselors was combined with that obtained from a survey of college presidents, provosts and deans to calculate the “undergraduate academic reputation index,” which replaced the “peer assessment” factor used in previous years.

The 2013 edition of U.S. News’ Best Colleges guidebook goes on sale Sept. 18. The rankings are posted today on www.usnews.com/colleges.

New building ready for fall term

Less than two years after the original Edwards Commons was destroyed by fire, a new campus center bearing the same name is ready for the fall term at Lyon College. The first meal was served in the new dining hall Aug. 13.

Construction on the new 44,000-square-foot building began in October 2011. The top floor, which houses the dining hall, kitchen and The Scot Shop, is virtually complete. Finishing touches are being made to the lower level, which houses the Bistro, game room and student life offices.

A ribbon cutting and rededication of the new center will be held Oct. 19 immediately following the annual Founders’ Day Convocation at 11 a.m. in Brown Chapel. Former Lyon President John Griffith, who served from 1989 to 1997, will deliver the keynote address at the convocation.

Lyon College President Dr. Donald Weatherman said the campus hasn’t been the same without the place that was affectionately known as “Eds.” With the completion of the new student center and dining hall, the “heart” of the campus has been restored, he said. Students will once again have a central location to gather, eat, study, play games and hang out.

The loss of Edwards Commons left students eating meals in the Small Gym portion of Becknell Gymnasium before moving last fall to a 270-seat temporary dining facility known as The Temp. The new dining hall will seat 350.

In addition to the new dining hall and kitchen, the new building will house The Scot Shop (college store); a bistro; student life offices; student mailboxes; student programming space; a game room featuring table tennis, pool tables,Foosball, and Wii; a cardio exercise room; student government offices; conference rooms; the counseling center; and the health and wellness clinic. The dining area also includes a balcony that overlooks Bryan Lake and surrounding trees.

The student programming space includes Maxfield Room, where music can be performed and movies shown. The room is named for the Maxfield family of Batesville. Two Maxfields, Charles and Mary, were in the first graduating class at what wasthen Arkansas College in 1876. Theo Maxfield was a college trustee and president of Maxfield Bank & Trust Co. in Batesville.

A fire destroyed the original Edwards Commons in October 2010. The building had been a staple of the Lyon College community since the late 1970s, but the dining hall portion of Eds was completed in 1983. Dr. Weatherman said he ate one of the first meals served in Eds and one of the last meals the day of the fire.

Edwards Commons was named for the late John W. and Lucille Welman Edwards of Batesville. Mr. Edwards was a former trustee and a banker who had given the largest gift for the dining hall project and the largest ever by a Batesville resident.

“I believe the Board of Trustee’s decision to keep theEdwards name on the campus center is very fitting,” he said. “John Edwards and his family were very strong supporters of the College and I am pleased their name will still be featured on this prominent building on campus.”

Funding for the $9.6 million project came from insurance proceeds from the Edwards Commons fire and from donations.

The remodeled building used as a temporary dining facility, The Temp, will once again house the Scottish Heritage Program and a fine arts studio. A portion of the building may be used for meeting space in the future.

Washington Monthly ranks Lyon College as a socially beneficial college for 7th year

Washington Monthly magazine’s annual College Guide has again named Lyon College to its list of the nation’s most socially beneficial liberal arts colleges. Lyon is ranked 117th, up from 200 last year. Lyon has made the magazine’s list of top colleges for the last seven years.

Unlike most other college guides, the Washington Monthly guide asks not only what colleges are doing for students, but also what colleges are doing for the country.

Washington Monthly came up with three indicators of how much a school is contributing to the public good. The magazine ranked schools in three broadcategories: social mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and Ph.D.’s), and service (encouraging students to give something back to their country).

So this year, the rankings incorporate a new measure called the “cost-adjusted graduation rate.” This involves tweaking the calculations the magazine has long used to derive a school’s social mobility score. In the past, the annual college guide predicted a college’s graduation rate using the median SAT/ACT score of each school and the percentage of its students receiving Pell Grants and then compared it to the actual graduation rate. This year, they made two changes. First, to increase the ability to predict graduation rates, they used additional student and institutional characteristics, such as the percentage of students attending full time and the admit rate. Second, to get at cost-effectiveness, they took the gap between the predicted and actual graduation rate of a school and divided it by the net price of attending that institution. (Net price represents the average price that first-time, full-time students pay after subtracting the need-based financial aid they receive.) The aim of the new cost-adjusted graduation rate is to highlight those collegesthat use their resources to effectively educate students at a relatively low cost.

Washington Monthly is a magazine based in Washington, D.C., which covers American politics and government. For more information on the list, see www.washingtonmonthly.com.

Princeton Review names Lyon College to list of ‘Best Southeastern Colleges’ for 9th consecutive year

For the ninth year in a row, The Princeton Review has named Lyon College a “Best Southeastern College,” based on results from its “2013 Best Colleges” survey.

Lyon College is one of 136 schools receiving the Best in the Southeast designation, and one of only four Arkansas institutions on the list compiled by the education services company headquartered in Massachusetts.

“We’re pleased to recommend Lyon College to users of our site as one of the best schools to earn their undergrad degree,” said Robert Franek, Princeton Review’s senior vice president and publisher. “We chose it and the other terrific institutions we name as ‘regional best’ colleges mainly for their excellent academic programs. From several hundred schools in eachregion, we winnowed our list based on institutional data we collected directly from the schools, our visits to schools over the years, and the opinions of our staff, plus college counselors and advisors whose recommendations we invite. We also take into account what students at the schools reported to us about their campus experiences at them on our 80-question student survey for this project. Only schools that permit us to independently survey their students are eligible to be considered for our regional ‘best’ lists.”

The 136 colleges The Princeton Review chose for its “Best in the Southeast” designations are located in twelve states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana,Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The Princeton Review also designated 222 colleges in the Northeast, 122 in the West, and 153 in the Midwest as best in their locales on the company’s “2013 Best Colleges: Region by Region” lists. Collectively, the 633 colleges named “regional best(s)” constitute about 25% of the nation’s 2,500 four-year colleges.

For this project, The Princeton Review asks students attending the schools to rate their own schools on several issues — from the accessibility of their professors to quality of the campus food — and answer questions about themselves, their fellow students, and their campus life. Comments from surveyed students are quoted in the school profiles on The Princeton Review site.

One of the student comment sections of the website says:

Considered “one of the best liberal arts colleges in the South,” Lyon College offers a rigorous education in a “friendly, safe, and welcoming environment.” With a tiny undergraduate enrollment, the “intimate setting and individual attention” is what really characterizes Lyon. “Classes are extremely small,” naturally fostering “close relationships” between students and faculty. At the same time, Lyon professors are “very knowledgeable in their respective fields,” and most try to make lectures engaging or to “bring humor into the classes.”

“The workload here is challenging,” yet, according to most students, “Learning at Lyon is easy as long as you are willing to step forward and actively participate.” Does all the hard work and individual attention pay off? Students say it does: “If you graduate from Lyon with a good GPA, chances are you have written enough good papers to be ahead of the curve in any grad school or profession.” An anthropology major tells us, “After being a student here I feel that I can handle just about anything.”

The Princeton Review does not rank the 633 colleges in its “2013 Best Colleges: Region by Region” list hierarchically or by region or in various categories.

The Princeton Review is a known for its test prep courses, education services and books. It has conducted the “Best Colleges” survey since 1992, when it first published its annual guide, the only one offering college rankings based on student ratings of their schools and reports of their experiences at them. Headquartered in Framingham, MA, with editorial offices in New York, the Princeton Review, which is a privately held company, is not affiliated with Princeton University.

Forbes.com ranks Lyon College one of ‘America’s Best Colleges’

Forbes.com has once again ranked Lyon College as one of “America’s Best Colleges.”

Forbes.com, in conjunction with the Center for College Affordability & Productivity (CCAP), has released its 2011 rankings, with Lyon College ranked 370th out of 650 undergraduate institutions.

Lyon College also ranked 275th in the private colleges category.

The rankings are based on five general categories: post graduate success (32.5 percent), which evaluates alumni pay and prominence; student satisfaction (27.5 percent), which includes professor evaluations and freshman to sophomore year retention rates; debt (17.5 percent), which penalizes schools for high student debt loads and default rates; four-year graduation rate (11.25 percent); and competitive awards (11.25 percent), which rewards schools whose students win prestigious scholarships and fellowships or go on to earn a Ph.D.

Forbes.com, Inc. is a leading Internet media company that includes real-time original reporting on business, technology, investing and lifestyle, stock and mutual fund quotes, comprehensive company profile and the complete online editions of Forbes’ magazines.

Bell wins piping championship

Lyon College Piper Major James “Jimmy” Bell won the overall professional title at the 26th annual United States Piping Foundation Amateur and Professional Piping Championships held June 16 at the University of Delaware in Newark, N.J.

Lyon student bagpiper Avens Ridgeway of Union, Maine, won second place honors in both the amateur piobaireachd competition and the amateur Amateur March, Strathspey, and Reel Competition.

Bell took the overall title by winning the Professional Piobaireachd Competition and finishing second in the Professional March, Strathspey, and Reel Competition.

The professional competitor with the highest point accumulation from the Piobaireachd and MSR competitions receives the USPF Silver Buckle. In addition to prize money, the overall winnerwill also receive trans-Atlantic airfare from the East Coast to Glasgow or Edinburgh Scotland if he is eligible to compete in the Northern Meeting Clasp or the Argyllshire Gathering Senior Piobaireachd.

Bell is pipe major of the Lyon College Pipe Band and director of the Scottish Heritage Program at Lyon.

“I have been trying to win this event for over 20 years,” Bell said. “I am very pleased with the weekend’s results.”

Competing in the professional events for the first time was Lyon College student Elliot Smith of Concord, N.H. Smithmoved into the professional ranks this year after winning numerous competitions as an amateur.

“Avens did a great job in the amateur division,” Bell said, “and Elliot was a strong competitor in his first professional USPF championships.”

There were 11 pipers from throughout North America in the amateur events, and 12 in the professional events.