Dr. Freed Named Director of Teacher Education at University of the Ozarks

Dr. Allison Freed, assistant professor of education/science education, has been appointed director of the Pat Walker Teacher Education Program, University of the Ozarks officials announced this week.

Dr. Allison Freed

The promotion is effective immediately for Freed, who has taught at Ozarks since 2015.

“It’s an honor to be named the director of teacher education,” Freed said. “Moving forward, our department will continue our collaborative efforts to provide comprehensive teacher education for Ozarks students. My hope is to continue to support the strengths of the program while also working to meet the needs of our future teachers in an ever-changing world.”

A native of Michigan, Freed earned her Ph.D. in educational psychology and educational technology from Michigan State University. She has taught school in rural Michigan, London and Chicago, completed a fellowship in Botswana, been a wilderness trip leader in Wyoming, and served as a study abroad program leader in The Netherlands, France and Germany.     

“I am delighted that Dr. Freed has stepped into this role at the University and look forward to seeing how the Pat Walker Teacher Education Program moves forward under her leadership,” said University Provost Dr. Alyson Gill. 

Freed published two pieces of research and will or has presented at two international conferences this year. The first publication, The Journal of Sustainability Education, examines the relationship between university students’ environmental identity, decision-making process, and behavior. She also published a book chapter in Pedagogies and Pedagogical Challenges.  Her presentations this year are at the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) and the Council for International Education Exchange (CIEE) conferences.

Freed also serves as the advisor of the Ozarks Student Education Association and the Planet Club.

University of the Ozarks Ranks Among Top in “Grateful Grads” Index

University of the Ozarks ranks among the top colleges in the country in producing “happy and successful alumni,” according to Forbes magazine’s 2019 Grateful Graduates Index.

Announced in August, the 2019 index ranks U of O first among Arkansas universities and No. 87 in the country. The index ranks the top 200 private, non-profit institutions by examining the percentage of alumni who make donations to their colleges and the total amount of those donations, adjusted for enrollment.

Forbes describes the index as “an alternative measure of colleges’ return-on-investment (ROI) that takes more of a Marie Kondo approach to college ranking. We boil down the analysis to a single factor. Does your alma mater ‘spark joy’ in your heart, enough to cause you to reach into your wallet and show your gratitude in the form of a donation?”

Forbes’ look at this return on investment measures gratitude in two ways, the seven-year median gifts per full-time enrolled student and the average percentage of alumni who give back, regardless of the amount donated.

“University of the Ozarks has a long and proud tradition of philanthropy and each year our alumni and friends of the University show their support of the University’s mission through their gifts,” said Lori McBee, vice president for advancement and alumni engagement. “The Grateful Graduates Index is another testament to the generosity and loyalty of our alumni and friends.”

During the 2018-19 fiscal year, which ended June 30, Ozarks received $7.2 million in gifts from alumni and friends of the University for scholarships, academic programs, facilities and campus operations. The University recently surpassed the $47 million mark in its current $55-million Climb Higher Campaign, which runs through December 2020.

University of the Ozarks to Present Halloween Concert, Trunk-or-Treat

The University of the Ozarks will present a pair of family-friendly events for the local community during the week of Halloween.

The music department will present the 19th annual All Hallows’ Eve Concert on Monday, Oct. 28, in Munger-Wilson Memorial Chapel. In addition, the Office of Student Affairs will sponsor a Trunk-or-Treat event from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31.

The concert begins at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Audience members are encouraged to come in costume.

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. Bethany Walker will serve as collaborative pianist and Dr. David Strain, professor of English and classics, will be the event’s narrator.

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, Hocus Pocus, The Phantom of the Opera, Jurassic Park and other popular movies.

Presented by the University’s Eagle Productions and Residential Life, Trunk-or-Treat will be held in the parking lot of the Walton Fine Arts Center. Children are encouraged to dress in costume and candy will be handed out by U of O students and employees.

For more information on these events, please contact the Office of Public Relations at 979-1433.

Arcia Selected as New Chief Financial Officer at University of the Ozarks

Gloria M. Arcia has been selected as the new vice president for finance and administration at University of the Ozarks. She will begin her duties on Nov. 1.

Arcia has worked at Broward College in Pembroke Pines, Fla., for the past two years as the college’s dean of business affairs for its South Campus and Partnership Centers. Previously, she was the assistant dean for business and finance at Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla., from 2014-17.

At U of O, Arcia will be the chief financial officer, serve on the executive management team and lead the University’s administrative and finance operations.

“I am honored and very eager to be joining the University of the Ozark family,” Arcia said. “Giving back is a tremendous part of my personal philosophy and I was excited to see that U of O shares similar philosophies. I am grateful to be welcomed to an institution that values not only my management and financial skills but my personal philosophies as well.”

Arcia has an associate’s degree from Miami Dade College, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Florida International University and an MBA with a specialization in Management from Barry University. She is completing an Ed.D. in organizational leadership and learning with a specialization in human resource development from Barry University.

Arcia worked for Barry University for 11 years, with increasing responsibilities. She served as an administrative assistant and business manager before being promoted to assistant dean for business and finance. At Miami Dade College she served as academic advisor to the Honors College.

At Broward, Arcia managed all operation and financial management of the college’s South Campus and its Partnership Centers. She also managed all construction and renovation projects and served as the deputy incident commander for the campus and centers during emergencies and critical incidents.

Arcia is bilingual in both Spanish and English. She and her husband, Aaron, are foodies and enjoy watching films and cruising. They have a son, Alexandre (13), and a daughter, Alexis (5).

Arcia replaces former CFO Jeff Scaccia, who resigned in the spring to accept a position in South Carolina.

University of the Ozarks Ranked 7th by U.S. News

University of the Ozarks has once again been featured in multiple categories in U.S. News & World Report’s annual college rankings.

In its 2020 edition of Best Colleges, released this week, U of O ranked 7th overall among more than 80 regional colleges in the South — the 21st consecutive year Ozarks has been ranked in the “top tier” among regional colleges in the South.

Ozarks has been ranked among the top 10 in the 12-state South Region in each of the past nine seasons. The overall rankings examine such criteria as academic reputation, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.

In addition, Ozarks ranked 19th among the “Best Value Schools” in the South. The value rankings evaluate the cost of attending a university relative to the quality of the institution and takes into account such things as the percentage of students receiving need-based financial aid and the average institutional aid those students receive.

“These rankings continue to confirm that University of the Ozarks is providing a high-quality, personalized and innovative education at a great price,” said President Richard Dunsworth. “We remain committed to controlling costs and limiting student debt while fulfilling the mission of the University.”

The magazine’s annual late summer publication that analyzes institutions of higher education also had U of O ranked No. 1 in the South Region in the category of “Most International Students,” with 21% percent. The University was also ranked 25th in the South in the category of “Campus Ethnic Diversity.”

The publication’s South Region consists of primarily undergraduate colleges and universities in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia.

University of the Ozarks Fall Semester Enrollment at 825

A record number of students from both Johnson County and abroad highlight University of the Ozarks’ 2019 Fall Semester enrollment numbers.

A total of 825 students are enrolled at U of O as of Tuesday afternoon, the official day of record for the semester. It’s the second-largest enrollment in the University’s 185-year history and 47 students fewer than last year’s all-time high of 872.

This year’s numbers include 112 students from the University’s home county, Johnson County — the most in the history of the college. There are also a record 183 students from the Arkansas River Valley counties of Johnson, Pope, Conway, Franklin, Logan and Crawford.

Reggie Hill, vice president for marketing and enrollment, said the University continues to emphasize the River Valley in its recruiting efforts.

“We’ve been successful in conveying the message that high school students from the River Valley don’t have to leave the area to get a high-quality, private education,” Hill said. “It makes our jobs easier when these students we’re recruiting have heard of the successes of other students from their schools who have come to Ozarks. Those students came to Ozarks, received a great education, graduated in four years and went on to get accepted into top graduate schools or found great jobs in their chosen profession. These are wonderful testaments of the value of an Ozarks education.”

This year’s student body is one of the most geographically diverse in the University’s history with a record 213 international students from 21 countries, including the Bahamas, Brazil, Chile, Congo Republic, Haiti, Guatemala, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Panama, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.

“We continue to build strong relationships both locally and abroad,” Hill said. “The geographic diversity of our student body is one of the things that makes an Ozarks education unique and special. Providing a high quality education in a multinational environment helps prepare our graduates to work in an increasingly global economy.”

A total of 363 students hail from Arkansas, with 39 of the state’s 75 counties represented. Ozarks also has students from 25 states, stretching from Alaska to Florida.  The top states represented include Texas (119), Oklahoma (44), Florida (14) and Missouri (9) and Tennessee (9). 

The incoming class, which includes first-time freshmen and transfer students, is 240, one of the largest incoming classes in the University’s history.

Enrollment at Ozarks is up 41 percent since 2013, when 585 students were enrolled.

University of the Ozarks Alumni Board Adds Community Service Component

The University of the Ozarks’ Alumni Association Board of Directors mixed business with a dose of community service during its recent board meeting on July 27 in Clarksville.

Following its annual summer meeting, several board members took part in a community service project to paint the outside store front of a downtown business, Master Printing of Clarksville, Inc.

It’s a new tradition for the board to give of their time to benefit the University and the city of Clarksville. Last summer, board members volunteered in the University’s Food for Thought Garden.

Alumni Community Service

“As alumni of the University, it is a pleasure to give back to a community that meant so much to us while we were students at Ozarks,” said Shannon Huggins ’91, president of the alumni board. “We appreciate the Alumni Engagement Office and the Chamber of Commerce for connecting us with Master Printing to provide this volunteer opportunity. We come together for the Alumni Association board meetings a few times a year so it provides us a chance to give as a group. Last year we pulled weeds in the garden, and this year we painted a downtown store front. Who knows what we will be doing next time.”

Master Printing owner Danna Schneider said she “cannot fully express my appreciation to the University of the Ozarks Alumni Association board members for painting the front of my shop.”

“They worked tirelessly and professionally until the job was completed and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome,” Schneider said. “What a privilege to have U of O alumni who volunteer their time to the community they called home while attending school here.  Clarksville is fortunate to have a University that produces such civic-minded graduates. A special thanks also to Jessica Gunn with the Clarksville-Johnson County Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Arkansas for pulling it all together. They are making an impact on our downtown, with help from University graduates and others.”

Gunn, executive director of the Clarksville-Johnson County Chamber of Commerce, said the board members’ assistance in painting the store front is part of a larger plan to revitalize downtown Clarksville.

“I am so grateful to have had the U of O Alumni Association volunteer in our community revitalization project this past weekend,” Gunn said. “It was especially interesting that many of the volunteers had moved and no longer live in the community. To see them working hard for their alma mater’s home speaks volumes for the University’s ability to build connections.”

Among the board members who helped with the project included, Huggins, Cori Dyson ’97, Lisa Gruben-Inness ’93, Scarlett Morris ’86, David Morris ’83, Wendy Blackwood ’90, Courtney Taylor ’09, Elizabeth Allcon ’91 and George Pittenger ’91. Also helping was alumnus Dan Dooley ’90.

University of the Ozarks Education Program Receives Accreditation Through 2024

The University of the Ozarks’ Pat Walker Teacher Education Program has been granted accreditation by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) through 2024.

U of O’s program was granted accreditation at the initial-licensure level and was one of 42 providers (colleges and universities) from 23 states and the District of Columbia that earned accreditation from CAEP during its spring review for their educator preparation programs (EPPs). These providers join 196 previously accredited providers in promoting excellence in educator preparation, bringing the total of CAEP-accredited EPPs to 238.

Created by the consolidation of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council, CAEP is the single specialized accreditor for educator preparation in the United States.

Dr. Brett Stone, dean of the education program, said, “I am extremely proud of the education faculty and staff for their steadfast commitment to making our program, students and curriculum the best it can be.  The accreditation process is certainly challenging, but is critical for maintaining a quality program that produces competent teachers for the state of Arkansas.”

Stone also credited area school partners as well as other Ozarks faculty members for the success of the education program.

“I am certainly grateful for the support and participation from our program partners, particularly for their necessary role in helping us produce quality teachers,” he said. “I would like to specifically credit the U of O faculty, our cooperating classroom teachers and the administrators from area school districts for their involvement throughout this process.”

The CAEP Accreditation Council held its spring 2019 review in May, during which 42 providers were approved under the rigorous, nationally recognized CAEP Teacher Preparation Standards.

“These providers meet high standards so that their students receive an education that prepares them to succeed in a diverse range of classrooms after they graduate,” said CAEP President Dr. Christopher A. Koch. “Seeking CAEP accreditation is a significant commitment on the part of an educator preparation provider.”

CAEP is the sole nationally-recognized accrediting body for educator preparation. Accreditation is a nongovernmental activity based on peer review that serves the dual functions of assuring quality and promoting improvement. Approximately 800 educator preparation providers participate in the CAEP Accreditation system, including some previously accredited through former standards.

Educator preparation providers seeking accreditation must pass peer review on five standards, which are based on two principles:

  1. Solid evidence that the provider’s graduates are competent and caring educators, and
  2. Solid evidence that the provider’s educator staff have the capacity to create a culture of evidence and use it to maintain and enhance the quality of the professional programs they offer.

If a program fails to meet one of the five standards, it is placed on probation for two years. Probation may be lifted in two years if a program provides evidence that it meets the standard.

Pelts Named Director of University of the Ozarks Jones Learning Center

Dody Pelts has been named as the new director of the Jones Learning Center at University of the Ozarks, effective July 1

Pelts has worked in the JLC for the past 18 years, including the last 12 as the center’s assistant director. She replaces Julia Frost, who announced her retirement in April after serving the past 25 years as the director.

“I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to serve Ozarks and the JLC,” Pelts said. “By building upon her rich history and sturdy foundation crafted by many dedicated professionals who served before me, the JLC is well-prepared to launch into the future.”

Woman wearing blue denim shirt stands on a sidewalk on a college campus.
Dody Pelts

Pelts, who has also served as the JLC’s school psychology specialist, said that unemployment and underemployment for students with learning disabilities, specifically for those impacted by social skills challenges, will be an area of emphasis for the JLC staff.

“Helping graduates gain skills beyond those of the classroom to obtain meaningful employment will be a focus of our efforts to support students as they seek to truly live life fully,” she said.

Pelts worked as the school psychology specialist for the Dover Public Schools in Dover, Arkansas, before coming to Ozarks in 2001 as the school psychology specialist. She started teaching developmental classes in the JLC a few years later and was named assistant director in 2007.

Pelts has presented at various state and national level learning disability association conferences and is a nationally certified school psychologist, a psychological examiner, and a certified school psychology specialist in Arkansas.  She is married to Jeremy and has two children: Macy, who will be a freshman at Ozarks in the fall, and Ike, a senior at Lamar High School.

“I am delighted that Dody will be taking on the new role of director of the Jones Learning Center,” said University Provost Dr. Alyson Gill. “I know that the JLC will continue to grow under her leadership and she brings with her new ideas that I am excited to explore with the group. I look forward to working with her as we think about how best to use this incredible resource.”

Frost has served as the director of the JLC since 1994. Her 30 years in the JLC included a stint as director of assessment from 1986-91.

“It has been a joy to work with Dody as the JLC assistant director for the past 12 years and to watch her become a highly respected colleague not only in the JLC, but also campus wide,” Frost said. “I am confident in her leadership abilities as she builds on the JLC past successes and looks forward with a new vision for its future.”

The Jones Learning Center is a comprehensive support program for students with documented learning disabilities, Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with average or above average intellectual abilities.  It was established at U of O in 1971 as one of the first of its kind in the country.