Articulation agreement reached with NWACC

University of the Ozarks has entered into an articulation agreement with Northwest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) in Bentonville, Ark., to simplify the process for students at NWACC who want to transfer to U of O.

Under this new partnership, a number of NWACC degrees—Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S), Associate of Arts (A.A.) and Associate of Science (A.S)—are now acceptable for transfer articulation to bachelor degrees at Ozarks. The transferring students would be admitted to Ozarks with junior status and could complete their bachelor’s degree in two years.

Dr. Alyson Gill, provost at U of O, said the agreement will allow NWACC students to start their education with quality courses, close to home, and know that their coursework will count toward a four-year degree at U of O later.

“The role that NWAAC plays in the state of Arkansas is an essential one, and this agreement recognizes that students often wish to begin their educational journey close to home while taking high-quality courses leading to an associate degree,” Gill said. “The importance of this agreement is that it creates a clear and open road forward for NWAAC students following graduation—allowing them to transfer to U of O in a seamless way. This will, in turn, make them more marketable should they be moving into the workforce after graduation or allow them to move easily into a competitive graduate program.”

The agreement was finalized in a memorandum of understanding signed by U of O President Richard Dunsworth and NWACC President Dr. Evelyn Jorgenson earlier this semester. It officially begins in the Fall 2018 Semester.

“This partnership allows us to provide a strong liberal arts education to students from one of the fastest growing areas in the United States,” said Reggie Hill, U of O’s assistant vice president for advancement and director of enrollment management. “It sets a clear pathway from Northwest Arkansas Community College to University of the Ozarks and these students will go back to Northwest Arkansas and become leaders in their communities.”

Established in 1990, NWACC has more than 7,200 students enrolled in more than 50 academic and technical programs.

University of the Ozarks receives Chamber honor

University of the Ozarks was selected as the 2017 Corporate Business of the Year at the annual Clarksville-Johnson County Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet, held Feb. 3 at the Cabin Creek Lookout in Lamar.

In presenting the award, chamber officials cited the University for its record enrollment of 755 students during the fall semester as well as its current $55 million Climb Higher fund-raising campaign to increase student scholarship opportunities and to enhance science and athletic facilities.

Representatives of University of the Ozarks celebrate their award

Representing the University at the banquet included, (pictured from left) Joey Long, a freshman biology major from Cabot; Pat Pearson, administrative assistant for alumni relations; Chris Allen, a member of the Board of Trustees; Brett Wood, director of alumni relations; Nicole Wood, a senior health science major from Clarksville; Ruth Walton, director of career services; Larry Isch, director of public and media relations; Dr. Scott Sheinfeld, assistant professor of business; and Ramona Cogan, office manager for marketing and public relations.

Also at the Chamber Awards Banquet, El Parian restaurant was named the 2017 Small Business of the Year, Tom Cogan was presented with the Lee White Legacy Award and Carol Martin was honored with the Pillar of Progress Award.

Pattersons establish education scholarship at University of the Ozarks

The Pattersons

The Pattersons in front of Walker Hall

University of the Ozarks alumna Edna Elkins Patterson (Class of 1967) and her husband, John, have created a new scholarship endowment at Ozarks to assist elementary education students from Johnson County.

The long-time Clarksville residents established The Edna Elkins Patterson and John S. Patterson Education Scholarship recently with a gift commitment of $100,000. The first preference for the scholarship is to assist students from Johnson County who are majoring in elementary education.

“The loyalty of our alumni and their desire to help students is one of the University’s strongest qualities and the Pattersons exemplify that commitment,” said Lori McBee, vice president for advancement. “We are grateful that the Patterson Scholarship will make it possible for many more students to excel at Ozarks, in their careers and in their communities.”

After graduating from Ozarks in 1967 with a degree in elementary education, Edna served more than 35 years as a teacher and media specialist, including 32 years in Clarksville elementary schools. She also taught in Van Buren, Ark.,, and Springdale, Ark.

Edna, whose family moved to Clarksville when she was 5, said that while she was a student at Clarksville High School she served as an aide to school librarian Lois Smith, wife of long-time Ozarks biology professor T.L. “Prof” Smith. Lois Smith encouraged Edna to attend then College of the Ozarks.

“Since there was no library degree available at C of O, I majored in elementary education,” she said. “Children’s literature, taught by Ruby Villines, was a class I especially enjoyed. She instilled in me a desire to teach. This gift is an expression of appreciation for all the wonderful teachers I had at C of O, now University of the Ozarks.”

Edna said attending Ozarks was one of the best decisions she ever made.

“My dad had been diagnosed with cancer so I knew I wanted to go college as close as possible so that I could be there with him,” she said. “I lived on campus for three years and had so much fun and met so many wonderful friends. My father died during my senior year, so I always felt blessed that I could be close to him in his final years and also receive a great education.”

The Pattersons, who will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in June, said the scholarship endowment stands as testimony to the faith journey they have had through their worship and service at First Presbyterian Church of Clarksville. The Patterson have two children, Page Patterson Hardin and Penny Patterson Coffman, and three grandchildren, Abigail, Regan and Graham.

John, a fourth generation Clarksville resident who retired in 2007 after serving as a circuit court judge in Franklin, Johnson and Pope counties, said he and his wife feel blessed to be able to help Ozarks students.

“Being able to establish a scholarship at this stage of our lives rather than through a will or estate gift makes this very special,” he said. “We will be able to see the scholarship benefit students in our lifetime and perhaps even be able to sit down and have coffee with some of the recipients in the future. That’s a true blessing.”

Gill Named Provost at University of the Ozarks

University of the Ozarks President Richard Dunsworth announced today the appointment of Dr. Alyson A. Gill as the University’s new provost.

Alyson Gill

Dr. Alyson A. Gill was appointed as provost of University of the Ozarks.

Currently the associate provost for instructional innovation at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Gill will begin her new duties at U of O on Feb. 1. As the chief academic officer at Ozarks, Gill will oversee all academic functions of the University, including the four divisions, the Jones Learning Center, and Student Support Services. She will also provide senior leadership in the areas of accreditation and assessment.

“Dr. Gill embraces the mission and core values of University of the Ozarks,” said Dunsworth. “She is a thoughtful, energetic and personable administrator who has demonstrated an ability to work collaboratively with students, faculty and staff to achieve goals. Her experience as a faculty member and administrator, her proven leadership in the areas of technology and innovation, and her natural curiosity make her the ideal candidate for the position of chief academic officer.”

Gill also is an associate professor of art history at UMass Amherst. She previously served 15 years as an instructor and professor of art history at Arkansas State University, earning tenure before leaving in 2015 to accept the position to lead instructional innovation at UM Amherst.

“From the moment that I first stepped foot onto the University of the Ozarks campus, I felt the spirit of this place and felt welcomed and at home,” Gill said. “As an art historian I often find myself in the role of storyteller—engaging through stories and bringing the past to life through words or interactive models. When I was on campus, I felt as if the story were instead being told to me, and in those narrative strands from students, faculty, staff, and community members, I not only saw a deep commitment and love of place, but I also felt a greater joining of my intellectual, leadership, and spiritual lives.”

At Arkansas State University, Gill served as the founding director for the Center for Digital Initiatives. At UMass Amherst, she led a staff of 30-40 providing innovative tools for faculty to use in their courses to support their pedagogies.

The six-month, nationwide search drew 76 applicants, according to Dr. Steve Oatis, dean of the Division of Humanities, Fine Arts and Communication and chair of the search committee. The committee narrowed the pool of candidates to eight for video interviews and three finalists were chosen for on-campus interviews.

“Dr. Gill is an innovative thinker who is well experienced in educational assessment and instructional technology, two areas that will be particularly important to our campus as we continue to grow in the coming years,” Oatis said. “The search committee also was very impressed by her enthusiasm, her communication skills, and her readiness and ability to understand many of the challenges and opportunities that are unique to Ozarks.”

Gill joins Ozarks during a time of record growth and amid one of the most ambitious capital campaigns in its history. The University hit an all-time enrollment high of 755 students during the Fall 2017 Semester and is in the third year of a five-year, $55 million campaign to enhance student scholarships and improve science and athletic facilities.

“This is an incredibly exciting time to be at Ozarks and I am thrilled to be part of this place and the leadership team,” Gill said. “I see opportunities to not only build on the campus vision set forth through the strategic planning process and master plan, but to work collaboratively across campus to hone and build on that vision. I am looking forward to exploring new ways together to further engage our students through student-centered learning and a personalized educational experience, to create collaborative learning spaces, to help faculty realize their goals as teachers and scholars, and to celebrate the unique place that is University of the Ozarks.”

Gill earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She earned a master’s degree in art history from University of California-Irvine and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Memphis. She is currently working on an MBA at UMass Amherst. Her husband, Dr. Eric Cave, is a professor of philosophy at Arkansas State University.

She replaces Dr. Travis Feezell, who left Ozarks in 2017 to accept the presidency at Hastings College in Nebraska.

ROTC program is re-established at U of O

For the first time in almost 30 years University of the Ozarks students will have the opportunity to participate in the U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program.

The University has re-established its ROTC program for the Spring 2018 Semester in collaboration with the University of Central Arkansas’ (UCA) ROTC program. Ozarks last had ROTC on campus in the late 1980s.

According to U of O Assistant Vice President for Advancement Reggie Hill, approximately a dozen current Ozarks students have shown interest in being part of the new program that prepares selected students to serve as commissioned officers in the active or reserve components of the Army.

“We are excited about providing our students with another pathway to long-term success and with additional career options,” Hill said. “ROTC is a first-class leadership and management program that offers an unparalleled opportunity for personal development. ROTC is also one of the nation’s leading sources of college scholarships, which is another great benefit to our current students as well as prospective students.”

University of the Ozarks ROTC

U of O’s new program will fall under the administration of UCA’s program, which includes eight Arkansas colleges and universities and forms the Bayonet Battalion, headquartered at UCA. Ozarks is planning to add a minor in military science for the Fall 2018 Semester, according to Hill. U of O students enrolled in the ROTC program will take military science classes and leadership labs as well as conduct physical training through the Arkansas Tech University affiliate program in Russellville.

According to CPT Matthew Sweeney, assistant professor of military science and officer in charge at ATU, there are 35 students enrolled in the ROTC program at Tech.

“I am honored to be a part of helping re-establish the program at Ozarks and to help attract, motivate and develop good young officers for either the U.S. Army’s reserve components or active duty,” Sweeney said. “I’m well aware of the great academic reputation of Ozarks and I know it has high-quality students. We’re here to give those students who might have an interest in the military another option and to continue to expand the pipeline for top-quality officers as much as we can.”

Army ROTC offers two, three and four-year scholarships, awarded strictly on merit. The scholarship covers full tuition and fees. Additionally, they receive a stipend of $300 a month as a freshman, $350 a month as a sophomore, $450 a month as a junior, and $500 a month as a senior, as well as a stipend for books.

The Army ROTC Program is of modular construction and is composed of a basic and an advanced course. Enrollment in the basic course is open to all full-time students, and it carries with it no obligation for military service. Completion of the basic course is a prerequisite for application to the advanced course. Upon successful completion of the program and graduation from college, young men and women become an Army Lieutenant in either the active Army, Army National Guard, or the U.S. Army Reserve.

For more information on the University’s ROTC program, please contact the U of O Office of Admission at 479-979-1227.

U of O Alumni Association to honor eight

The University of the Ozarks Alumni Association will honor eight of the university’s distinguished graduates during the 2017 Alumni Awards Banquet on Friday, Oct. 13.

The awards banquet, which is part of this year’s Homecoming ceremonies, begins at 6 p.m. in the Rogers Conference Center. The banquet will also include the Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased by calling the Office of Alumni Relations at 479-979-1234.

The recipients of the 2017 alumni awards include Lonnie and Levada (Mathis) Qualls of Clarksville, both 1956 graduates who will received the Alumni Merit Award; Ray Hobbs ’77 of Springdale, Ark., and Peter Van Dyke ’87 of Chicago, who will each receive the Alumni Achievement Award; Ian Bryan ’13 of Russellville, Ark., and Lauren Ray ’13 of Jasper, Ark., who will each receive the Young Alumni Award; and the Rev. Dr. Ralph Ehren ’56 and his wife Betty (Hodges) Ehren ’53 of Plano, Texas, who will receive the Alumni Legacy Award.

The Qualls, who have been associated with Ozarks for more than 65 years, will receive the Merit Award for meritorious work on behalf of the university. They first arrived on campus as students in the early 1950s. Lonnie coached numerous sports, including football, baseball and tennis, at Ozarks from 1962 until his retirement in 1995. Levada served as a health and physical education instructor at Ozarks for more than 35 years. They celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary in August. They have both stayed involved with the university since their retirements.

“When we were working at Ozarks, it never seemed liked a job,” Levada said. “The relationships that we made and the fun that we had is what stands out to me. We felt like we were making a difference.”

Hobbs serves as the president and CEO of Hart Tackle Company. A native of Clarksville, he is also president of the Economics Arkansas Foundation. He previously served as president and CEO of Daisy Manufacturing Company, Inc., and as a senior vice president for merchandising of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. He worked for Wal-Mart for 24 years. Hobbs has worked as a merchandising consultant for firms like Hanna’s Candle Co. in Fayetteville and Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Missouri. He served as Interim CEO of Bass Pro for 14 months before being recruited by Daisy.

Van Dyke is a senior litigation counsel for CAN Insurance, where he manages and resolves many of the company’s most significant commercial insurance claims. A graduate of Notre Dame Law School, Van Dyke worked in private firms in Florida and Indiana before joining CAN in 2004 to help the company manage its highest exposure litigation on a national level. He was elected to a three-year term on the university’s Board of Trustees in January 2017.

Bryan is a business development officer for Arvest Bank in Russellville. The former baseball player at Ozarks is on the Alumni Association Board of Directors and is an alumni representative on the university’s Sports Hall of Fame Committee. He is also a member of the River Valley United Way Board of Directors and a graduate of the 2017 Leadership Russellville program.

Ray works for the National Park Service as the upper district interpreter at Buffalo National River. As a student, Ray was heavily involved with Ozarks Outdoors and the Planet Club, and these leadership experiences shaped a clear career path for her after graduation. Today, she is known by many as the “Rapping Ranger.” She produces educational music videos about various issues in the national parks in order to promote preservation and resource protection. She was named 2013 Student Conservationist of the Year by the Arkansas Wildlife Federation and 2014 Environmental Educator of the Year by the Arkansas Environmental Education Association.

The Ehrens are retired in Plano. A graduate of Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, Ralph served as a Baptist minister for 34 years in churches in Wyoming, South Dakota, Maryland, Arkansas and Texas. He also taught at Houston Baptist University before retiring in 2000. Betty served as a media specialist for 18 years for several schools before retiring in 1991. The Ehrens, who will celebrate their 64th wedding anniversary on Dec. 19, have both served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Four alumni will also be inducted into the U of O Sports Hall of Fame during the Oct. 13 banquet — Steve Higgins ’79 of House Springs, Mo., a former baseball standout; Don Kessler ’70 of San Diego, an accomplished collegiate and professional athletic trainer; George Loss ’54 of Little Rock, a highly successful high school football coach; and Lindy (Swatzell) Mantooth ’05 of Kansas City, Mo., a former soccer star at Ozarks.



U of O enrollment hits all-time high

Bolstered by the largest incoming class in its history, University of the Ozarks’ enrollment for the Fall 2017 Semester has reached an all-time high.

A total of 755 students are enrolled at U of O this semester, an increase of 10 percent over last fall and eclipsing the university’s previous all-time high of 731 students in 2003. Enrollment at Ozarks has increased 29 percent since 2013 when 585 students were enrolled.

The incoming class, which includes first-time freshmen and transfer students, is 305, a 30 percent increase over the 2016 incoming class and the largest new class in the university’s 183-year history.

“This is an exciting time in the University of the Ozarks’ long and rich history,” said U of O President Richard Dunsworth. “The record number of students who are coming to Ozarks recognize the value of higher education and especially the value of an Ozarks education. Our administration, faculty, staff and trustees at Ozarks are committed to delivering on the university’s mission of providing a high-quality, Christian, private college education to students from diverse backgrounds and preparing them to live a full life.”

Dunsworth said enrollment has been energized by a five-year tuition freeze and a mission-driven approach to financial aid.

“Disciplined price management is part of an ongoing strategy by the University to keep an Ozarks education affordable for both current and future students and to reduce the amount of debt our students incur,” Dunsworth said. “We were able to develop and implement a sound financial aid strategy in line with our mission of serving and preparing students from diverse backgrounds. We also continue to grow in so many positive ways, including broader academic opportunities, increased international partnerships and enhanced facilities.”

Reggie Hill, assistant vice president for advancement and director of enrollment management, said the university has placed a renewed emphasis on the Arkansas River Valley area in recent years. This year’s student body includes 166 students from the River Valley counties of Johnson, Pope, Conway, Franklin, Logan and Crawford. The incoming class has 36 students from the university’s home county, Johnson County.

“It’s about building relationships, the human element to enrollment,” Hill said. “We’ve placed an emphasis on building better relationships and letting high school students in this region know what we have to offer. Students don’t have to leave Johnson County to receive a top-notch education.”

This year’s enrollment is also one of the most geographically diverse in the university’s history with 135 international students coming from 23 countries, including, Belgium, France, Haiti, Panama, Mexico, the Bahamas, Honduras, Rwanda, El Salvador, Nicaragua, New Zealand and South Korea. Ozarks also has students from 32 states and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

“Our institution truly mirrors a global community,” Hill said. “Approximately 18 percent of our student population comes from outside the United States and that’s extremely beneficial to our campus community. We believe our students from Arkansas have something to teach the world and that our students from around the world have something to teach our students from Arkansas,”

Hill said the reasons students choose Ozarks include location, a sense of community, and an opportunity for customized educational experiences.

“We are finding that students love the natural environment and outdoor opportunities that this area has to offer,” Hill said. “That and the fact that they can be a part of a close-knit campus community and receive a personalized education make Ozarks an attractive choice.”

Other facts about the university’s Fall 2017 Semester enrollment: 48 percent (366) of the student population comes from Arkansas; 42 percent (317) are considered student-athletes and compete on one of the university’s 21 men’s and women’s intercollegiate athletic teams; 102 students (14 percent) hail from Johnson County; and 88 students (12 percent) call Clarksville home.

State law requires universities to take an official enrollment snapshot at the end of the 11th day of classes, which fell on Sept. 6 for U of O this year.

Maher to perform concert at U of O Sept. 22

Eight-time Grammy-nominated contemporary Christian singer and songwriter Matt Maher will perform a concert at University of the Ozarks on Friday, Sept. 22, as part of the university’s 2017-18 Walton Arts & Ideas Series (WAIS)

The concert, which begins at 6 p.m. on the campus mall, is being held in conjunction with the college’s Family Weekend. The public is invited to attend and there is no cost for admission. Guests are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs.

Since his 2008 major label debut, Maher has become a staple in the artistic and songwriting community. He has garnered multiple radio successes writing and recording songs like “Lord, I Need You,” “Hold Us Together,” “Christ Is Risen,” “All The People Said Amen” and “Your Grace Is Enough.”

Maher has penned songs recorded by Chris Tomlin, Crowder, Third Day, Matt Redman, Hillsong, Passion, Jesus Culture and Bethel among others. In 2015, he was presented Dove Awards for Songwriter of the Year and Worship Song of the Year.

Originally from Newfoundland, Canada, Maher got his start in church music at St. Timothy Catholic Church in Mesa, Arizona, while studying jazz at Arizona State University.

He has written and produced seven solo albums, three of which have reached the Top 25 Christian Albums Billboard chart. Four of his singles have reached the Top 25 Christian Songs chart. Maher has written or co-written five No. 1 radio singles.

In a 2013 career highlight, he performed in Rio de Janeiro before Pope Francis and a crowd of three million. In 2015, Maher was awarded his first RIAA Gold certification for “Lord, I Need You.”

His latest album release in 2015, “Saints and Sinners,” is a call for social justice rooted in the work of historic faith leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mother Teresa.

Maher currently lives in Nashville with his wife and children.

The theme for this year’s seven-event Walton series is Music: The Universal Language. The series is presented by the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation. A list of the upcoming events can be found at

Photgraph of Matt Maher taken Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, at Century II in Wichita, Kansas.

University signs covenant with Clarksville First Presbyterian Church

University of the Ozarks and First Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) of Clarksville have entered into a covenant that will allow the church to hold its weekly services in the University’s Munger-Wilson Memorial Chapel.

The covenant, which recognizes the long-standing partnership between the two institutions, was signed in June by University President Richard Dunsworth and Dr. Pat Farmer, Clerk of Session for the church and a U of O professor emeritus.

Farmer, who taught theatre at Ozarks from 1987 to 2011, said a declining membership prompted church members to look for alternative venues to hold its weekly services.

“As is the case with many other mainline churches who are declining in membership, First Presbyterian, Clarksville, was financially unable to maintain its 100-year-old building,” he said. “Knowing that the church is the people and not the building, the congregation unanimously voted to leave its historic home and to start a new and exciting chapter in our life as we discover what it means to be a church without property.”

The church held its first Sunday service in Munger-Wilson Chapel on Pentecost Sunday, June 4.

Dunsworth said the agreement “is a celebration of the partnership in ministry and service that these two institutions have had for more than 150 years.”

“Moving forward, it will help us realize the potential for mutually energizing, mutually beneficial partnerships and collaboration, particularly in programmatic areas where our separate missions intersect or overlap,” Dunsworth added. “As we enter into this covenant, it’s an affirmation that both institutions will work together to enhance each other’s mission and core values.”

The agreement provides the church use of the chapel and the adjoining Wilson Plaza for its weekly 11 a.m. Sunday worship service, preceded by 10 a.m. programming for Bible study, as well as other special services throughout the year. It also sets up a Covenant Committee to “facilitate and emulate a spirit of cooperation” between the two institutions.

The University has been affiliated with the Presbyterian Church since it was founded in 1834 by Cumberland Presbyterians in Cane Hill, Arkansas. That relationship continued when the University moved to Clarksville in 1891. The University temporarily moved its operations to the First Presbyterian Church facility for two years during World War II when the U.S. Navy took over the campus for radar training.

Munger-Wilson Chapel underwent a $2.75 million renovation in 2015 thanks to a gift from Mrs. Frances E. Wilson of Tulsa, Okla. The renovation included a new center for student spiritual development as well as a plaza that contains a 125-seat amphitheater.

President Dunsworth named to APCU board

University of the Ozarks President Richard Dunsworth, J.D., has been elected to the board of directors for the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities (APCU)

Dunsworth’s three-year term begins immediately on the board of the independent, non-profit association that is dedicated to assisting the more than 50 Presbyterian-affiliated colleges and universities throughout the U.S.

“I am honored to have been elected to serve as a director for the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities,” Dunsworth said. “The Presbyterian Church in its many forms and iterations has played a significant role in the landscape of higher education. The APCU serves as an additional link between our 56-member organization and the presidents and chaplains who have been called to serve them. Having recently renewed our covenant with the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), I believe I have a realistic view of our collective reality. I look forward to exploring ways we can continue to serve our Lord Jesus Christ and each other as we grow and develop as people and as organizations, but ultimately, as the body of Christ.”

University of the Ozarks has been affiliated with the Presbyterian Church since it was founded by Cumberland Presbyterians in 1834 in Cane Hill, Arkansas.

John Comerford, president of Blackburn College, was selected to serve as the APCU chair-elect for 2017-18.

As part of its mission, the APCU advocates the important, ongoing role that higher education plays within the Presbyterian Church (USA) and assists presidents in the development of strategies that fulfill their respective institutional missions.  APCU member institutions are eligible to participate in APCU-sponsored programs that include an insurance and risk management program, an international student exchange with institutions in Northern Ireland and a tuition exchange for children of faculty and staff members.