Hendrix Highlighted in National Voting Study

On-campus voting at Hendrix College increased by more than 20% between 2014 and 2018, according to a report by The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE). NSLVE is a project of the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University.

The College’s overall voting rate is higher than the national average. Hendrix also saw strong increases in voter registration and the voting rate of registered students from 2014-2019.

“Student-led voter registration outreach has been consistently strong, and student ownership of that process is a point of pride at Hendrix,” said. Hendrix politics professor Dr. Jay Barth ’87. “This certainly underscores the importance of having an on-campus voting site. Campus voting sites are crucially important to making voter participation easier for students.”

Support for campus voting sites is a clear indication of an institution’s commitment to civic engagement, Barth added.

Hendrix has been a precinct since 2004 and, since 2016, has been a voting center for students, faculty, staff, and Faulkner County residents.

According to the NSLVE’s national report Democracy Counts 2018: Increased Student and Institutional Engagement, college students across the United States more than doubled their rate of voting between the 2014 and 2018 midterm elections, and 40% of students who are eligible to vote cast ballots last year, up from 19% in 2014. The significant increases from 2014 to 2018 cut across many categories, from age to student demographics to fields of study.  

In addition to hosting a voting center, Hendrix is a member institution of Project Pericles, the national civic engagement initiative, and participates in a political polling project with Talk Business & Politics. Hendrix also hosts the Arkansas Policy Program, an undergraduate think tank where students conduct research and provide nonpartisan, original analyses of key public policy issues in the state. 

Watch Barth and fellow Hendrix alumnus Peter Butler ’17, then Hendrix Student Senate president, discuss their work to expand access to student voting sites on campus in this video

Lyon College’s Schwanke receives ‘extraordinary senior lecturer’ position in South Africa

A Lyon professor has been appointed to the post of extraordinary senior lecturer at North-West University in South Africa.

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Dr. Christopher Schwanke will have access to campus, academic journals, and travel funds through the position, which retroactively began Jan. 1, 2019, and will expire Dec. 31, 2021. The position can be renewed for another three years at that time.

Schwanke was a postdoctoral researcher at North-West University from 2015 to 2018. His wife still lives in South Africa, so he spends his summers there.

“My former supervisor thought it would be a good idea to nominate me for this appointment,” he said.

“It was an honor to have the university’s top-ranked officials give me this recognition. It’s a great opportunity to travel to South Africa to visit my wife and continue my research with my colleagues, who have similar interests.”

He is currently working on two research projects: further developing a theory of complex analysis from an order theoretic perspective and a theory of stochastic processes from an order theoretic perspective.

“In math research, we prove new theorems that could hopefully end up in textbooks one day, like the quadratic formula,” he said. “Someone had to prove that it actually works.”

The position is unpaid, but the South African government will award North-West University about $6,700 (100,000 rands) every time Schwanke gets an article published.

“I publish in both Lyon’s name and North-West’s name, so about 10 percent of that will go back to me for research costs, such as traveling to conferences and inviting colleagues [to North-West University].”

He plans to renew the position indefinitely.

“I plan on going to South Africa every summer right now to see my wife and then to see her family after she moves here,” Schwanke said.

“Most of my collaborators are in South Africa, so it makes sense for me professionally to be there over the summer anyway. Research is a big part of my job, and I’d like to continue this appointment.”

Women’s bowling comes to Lyon

Lyon College is setting up the pins for a women’s bowling team. The College is partnering with Hollywood Bowl to start the team.

Recruitment for players is starting this fall with the chance to compete in fall 2020. For more information, contact Director of Affinity Mentoring Tommy Newton at thomas.newton@lyon.edu.

JBU Exceeds Campaign For the Next Century Goal, Receives $156 Million

John Brown University is celebrating its centennial birthday during homecoming this weekend, but it is also celebrating what is believed to be the largest capital campaign for a private university in Arkansas.

At The Next Century Campaign Celebration dinner tonight,  Dr. Jim Krall, vice president for university advancement, announced that JBU’s seven year fundraising campaign exceeded its  $125 million dollar goal by $31 million dollars, receiving $156 million in gifts and pledges.

“As JBU rejoices in its 100th anniversary this weekend, we are pleased to announce the successful conclusion of our historic Next Century Campaign,” said Dr. Chip Pollard, JBU president. “We are so grateful to the many alumni, friends, and foundations who have given or committed over $156 million to support the next century of JBU’s mission. Generations of future JBU students will benefit from these gifts, and we are deeply thankful to God for his blessings.” 

Through these gifts the university has been able to build or renovate eight facilities and fund programs in nursing, computer science, art, entrepreneurship, track and field and archaeology. Of the $156 million raised, over $42 million is designated toward financial assistance for students through the JBU Scholarship Fund and endowed scholarships. Campaign donors established 83 new endowed scholarships and increased 97 existing endowed scholarships, a total value of over $13 million.

This was the first JBU campaign that included estates for future gifts which account for over $30 million, many that will go toward future scholarships.

“We are blessed to have an incredible community of people who support JBU financially,” said Dr. Jim Krall, vice president for university advancement. “Nearly 9,000 alumni, parent, employees, foundations, corporations and friends of the university have given to support JBU during the Campaign because they believe in the value of Christian higher education and they desire to impact current and future students.”

Campaign donors, alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends of the University were all in attendance to hear the campaign total that will build on the university’s previous commitments and strengthen JBU’s capacity to offer a hope and a future to students into the next 100 years of the University’s existence.

Ouachita’s Blake Johnson receives $75,000 grant from UAMS’ Arkansas Breast Cancer Research Program

Dr. Blake Johnson, assistant professor of biology at Ouachita Baptist University, has been awarded a $75,000 grant from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ (UAMS) Arkansas Breast Cancer Research Program (ABCRP) to support his project “Identification and functional characterization of exosome-derived GPI anchored proteins in breast cancer.” The goal of Johnson’s research is to discover new and less-invasive methods to detect breast cancer earlier and to monitor the disease’s progression during treatment instead of relying on intrusive surgery for testing.

Johnson’s research and funding for the grant is supported by UAMS and its breast cancer research program, ABCRP. The research program, a division of UAMS’ Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, has promoted innovative cancer research aimed at early detection and therapeutic intervention for more than 20 years.

“Grants of this significance indicate the type of work that our faculty are capable of doing,” said Dr. Tim Knight, dean of Ouachita’s J.D. Patterson School of Natural Sciences. “It is a credit to Dr. Johnson that he has built the potential for us to participate in this type of research in the short time he has been a part of the faculty.”

Johnson’s research began in September 2019 and will continue through August 2020. He will be joined in his research by Dr. Yuchun Du of the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville.

In contrast to utilizing methods that test and diagnose breast cancer through surgical procedures, Johnson plans to research biological markers of breast cancer that could be detected in real-time from body fluid.

“Various molecular cancer diagnostic assays have been developed for the management of early-stage breast cancer,” Johnson said. “These assays, however, capture only a limited amount of tumor information as they rely on invasive biopsy tissue. This is problematic as aggressive tumors are often highly heterogeneous and not accurately assessed by small portions of tumor cells.

“Unlike tissue-based biopsies, which require invasive surgical procedures, extracting biological information from cancer-specific exosomes is non-invasive and would allow for early disease detection, as well as ongoing monitoring for signs of potential disease progression during therapeutic intervention,” Johnson explained. “Diagnostic assays that provide real-time information and can be readily performed using only a small portion of bodily fluid are desperately needed in breast cancer.”

Johnson began working at Ouachita in 2017. Originally from El Dorado, Ark., he graduated from Ouachita in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in biology. He later earned his Master of Science in human molecular genetics from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and his doctorate in biomedical sciences from the University of Texas’ M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Johnson also was trained as a post-doctoral fellow at UAMS’ Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute and has served as a visiting scientist at Stanford Research Institute.

For more information, contact Dr. Tim Knight at knightt@obu.edu or (870) 245-5528.

Williams Baptist University Launching Student Work Initiative

Williams Baptist University will soon give students a chance to work their way through college, with the potential to graduate debt-free.  The private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge, Ark., announced Monday that it is launching an initiative known as Williams Works, a program that will allow students to work part-time jobs to have their tuition and fees completely covered.

“WBU understands the financial strain students and their families are facing.  It is a hurdle that makes it very difficult for many to even attend college, so we are providing a way for students to get past that financial hurdle and receive an outstanding, Christ-centered education at Williams,” said Dr. Stan Norman, president of WBU.

The centerpiece of Williams Works will be Eagle Farms, a fruit and vegetable farm where students will plant, cultivate and harvest the crops, as well as market the produce. The farm will be located at the northwest corner of the WBU campus, on land that is currently undeveloped.

“This initiative will involve a farmers market and several other outlets for our produce, and we also plan to develop our own line of WBU-branded products.  With over 100 pecan trees already on our campus, we plan to sell Eagle Farms pecans as well as other specialty farm products,” Norman said.

Norman said Eagle Farms will begin by growing fruits and vegetables in the early stages, but future plans call for the addition of agri-tourism elements, such as a fall festival, and he said the farm will expand into other endeavors as needed to provide jobs for students.

WBU will also utilize community partners to provide jobs, including industries in the nearby Walnut Ridge Industrial Park.  Custom Pak, the nearest industry to the Williams campus, has agreed to hire 25 students through Williams Works when the program launches in the fall of 2020.  The company has expressed interest in expanding that number in future years.

“To be clear, Williams Works will involve real jobs with real responsibilities,” Norman said.  “This program is for students who are prepared to work through the college years.  Those who do so will be rewarded richly with the chance to avoid student loan debt after they graduate.”

The WBU president noted that Williams Works is more than just a program for the university.  Rather, he said it marks an institutional turning point.

“The current tuition-driven model of higher education is not working as it should for students or for the institutions.  The costs to students are higher than many can afford.  Colleges and universities are facing declining enrollments and falling revenue.  The paradigm needs to shift, and Williams Works reflects our commitment as a university to move in an entirely new direction,” Norman commented.

WBU will accept 40 incoming freshmen into Williams Works next fall, and it anticipates adding 40 more freshmen into the program in each of the next two years.  The university plans to add greater numbers to the works initiative in subsequent years.

Norman said the work initiative is a natural fit for WBU on many fronts.  The university is in a rural setting and has land available on its campus to be developed into a farm.  The concepts of work and farming are reinforced in the regional culture.

It also reflects the history of the school.  Dr. H.E. Williams, who founded the institution as Southern Baptist College in 1941, operated a print shop, a woodworking shop, a rice and soybean farm, an auto repair business and other enterprises created to provide jobs for many students in the early decades of the school.

Norman noted that work matches the spiritual and academic standards of WBU, as well.

“The Bible begins with God at work in creation, and we read that work was God’s plan for Adam and Eve even before the fall.  Scripture is filled with numerous examples and exhortations about work.  This initiative gives us a great new platform for teaching a Christian ethic of work to our students,” he said.

“Educationally, we are equipping tomorrow’s leaders for work across a broad spectrum of careers.  Incorporating the values of hard work and responsibility into the educational process will be of great value to these students and their future employers.”

Students who are selected for Williams Works will agree to work 16 hours per week, and they will work every week of the fall and spring semesters.  Those who complete their assigned hours will have their cost of education covered, which includes tuition and fees.

Some students will also be allowed to work in the summer months to cover their room and board expenses for the following year.

“It has become painfully clear to us that many students and families have reached the point where a university education is a significant financial burden.  Williams Works is our attempt to ease that burden for those families, and to give graduates a chance to start their adult lives without a crushing amount of student loan debt,” said the president.

Williams Works is open to first-time freshmen who have a 2.6 cumulative high school GPA or higher and an ACT composite score of at least a 19.  The initiative aims to help those with the greatest financial need, so primary, though not exclusive, consideration will be given to applicants who are eligible for federal financial aid.  Students must be willing to work at least 16 hours per week during the fall and spring semester and be enrolled full-time.

Applications for the inaugural class of Williams Works will be accepted through February 1, 2020.  Interested students can get more information and apply for the initiative at williamsbu.edu/WilliamsWorks.

“We believe it is time to change the paradigm of higher education, to make it financially obtainable for every qualified student.  As Williams Works expands in coming years, we expect to produce graduates free from the burden of excessive student loans.  These graduates will be able to pursue careers of their choosing without those undue financial constraints,” Norman said.

Work will begin in coming weeks to develop the first phase of Eagle Farms, and the farm operation is expected to be fully functional by the start of the 2020-21 school year.

The president said a director will eventually be added to run Williams Works, but Dr. Brett Cooper will lead the work initiative in its early stages.  Cooper, who is vice president for creative services & technology and special assistant to the president at WBU, chaired the task force that developed the Williams Works strategy.

Norman went on to note that while Williams Works will make a college education more affordable to many, the value of the education itself will remain undiminished.

“The ultimate goal of Williams Works is to give students the opportunity to receive an academically outstanding education that is thoroughly Christ-centered,” he said.  “Our aim is always to produce graduates who are able to make a difference for good, whatever career they may pursue. We believe Williams Works opens the door for more students to experience that transformative education.”

Williams Baptist University Announces 12 Percent Enrollment Jump

A record freshman class has pushed enrollment up by more than 12 percent on the campus of Williams Baptist University in Walnut Ridge, Ark.  The university announced its fall enrollment numbers as the WBU Board of Trustees met in regular session Friday, Sept. 13.

Enrollment is up across nearly all categories at WBU this fall, led by a class of 198 freshmen.  That figure represents a 26.9 percent increase over last year’s count of 156 freshmen.  The freshman class is the largest since Williams became a four-year institution in 1984, and is one of its largest ever.

Williams has an on-campus enrollment of 517 this semester, which is a 12.6 percent jump from the 459 students who were enrolled last fall.

“We are elated with the fall enrollment numbers, which reflect the hard work of many people across the WBU campus.  We especially commend Angela Flippo, our vice president for enrollment management, and her entire team in the admissions and financial aid offices.  They have done incredible work over the past year, and we are reaping the rewards this fall,” said WBU President Dr. Stan Norman.

Total enrollment at WBU, which includes on-campus, online and off campus extension numbers, stands at 553, an improvement of 11.6 percent over last year’s number of 497.

The university also enjoyed an increase in its full-time equivalent (FTE), which is an important budget number for colleges and universities.  The total FTE at Williams stands at 538 this year, which is a 12.3 percent spike.

In other business, the Board of Trustees approved the formation of a prayer advisory board at WBU.  The group will be composed of volunteers who agree to pray regularly for the university and its students, and to lead efforts to have others pray for the school, as well.

“As a Christian institution, we believe firmly that God is the provider of all our blessings, and that his providence has brought WBU to where it is today.  The prayer advisory board takes seriously the work of prayer for Williams and commits to keeping the institution the subject of prayer for our many supporters,” said Norman.

The board also elected officers for the upcoming year.  Dave Russell of Jonesboro will continue his service as chair of the Williams board.  James Miller of Melbourne will serve as vice chair, while Theodis Brown of Hot Springs will be the secretary.

WBU has a 24-person board, and its members are appointed by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.  Williams is owned and operated by the ABSC.

Inaugural Scholar in Residence is named for Social Justice Institute at Philander Smith College

The Social Justice Institute at Philander Smith College has named Donna Hylton to serve as its first Scholar in Residence for a term that commences Sept. 9.

Hylton is deeply involved in movements for social justice around the country, drawing upon her experience being imprisoned in a women’s correctional facility for 27 years.


“I am thrilled and so honored for this opportunity,” said Hylton. “During my residency at Philander Smith College, I hope to bring my story to the classroom and to Little Rock, as well as an afford an opportunity to bring an authentic view of the criminal justice system to ensure the dignity and humanity of those interacting with it –from the inside, out.”

The ‘Scholar in Residence’ is a part of the Institute’s strategy to engage Philander Smith College students and the broader community in gaining a deeper understanding of social justice and the ways in which people can make a meaningful impact. “We understand social justice as an umbrella that covers a vast number of issues that includes – but is not limited to – race, economics, gender, LGBTQ, food, education, prison, health and environmental injustices,” said Tamika S. Edwards,  Social Justice Institute Executive Director. “Ms. Hylton will provide a diverse approach toward these important issues to broaden the worldview of our student body and surrounding community.”

Through the Scholar in Residence program, combined with a number of other partnerships and events, the Social Justice Institute aims to further the conversation on social justice and move the program to a model of intentional impact. PSC President Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr. believes this approach is foundational to helping grow the Institute to a regional center for justice-centered education.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ms. Hylton as part of our efforts to broaden the scope of our Social Justice Institute,” said President Smothers. “We look forward to our Scholar in Residence’s engaging work and focus on helping our students and those beyond our campus to not only understand their responsibility to injustices, but to also be committed to advocacy and eradication of inequalities.”

Hylton’s first public appearance is slated to be a reading and of her memoir, A Little Piece of Light, at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13 at the Little Rock Barnes & Noble bookstore.  The following day, Saturday, Sept. 14, she will be a guest speaker at the 2nd Annual DecARcerate Conference that will be held at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater in Little Rock wherescholars, advocates, and formerly incarcerated people will discuss Arkansas’ systems of mass incarceration and criminalization.

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.

Harding Recognized as a best college by The Princeton Review

Harding University has been named one of the best colleges in the Southeast, according to the nationally recognized educational services company, The Princeton Review. Harding is one of only four schools in Arkansas to make the list and among 142 institutions the organization recommends in its “Best in the Southeast” section of its website feature “2020 Best Colleges: Region by Region.”

This year, 656 colleges across the United States, including Harding, were recognized for being academically outstanding. The Princeton Review editors made their selections based on data the company collected from school administrators at several hundred colleges and surveys that asked students questions about their school’s academics, administration, campus community and themselves. The answer format uses a five-point Likert scale to convert qualitative student assessments into quantitative data for school-to-school comparisons.

“This ranking not only reflects Harding’s academic excellence, it reflects the kind of students who choose to attend,” Dr. Bruce McLarty, University President, said. “It’s an honor for the University to be nationally recognized, not only for its academics, but also for the unique and transformative environment we offer.”

The 142 colleges who were selected as the “Best in Southeast” are located in 12 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

View the University’s profile on the Princeton Review at princetonreview.com

The Princeton Review’s mission is to provide personalized, innovative, best-in class private tutoring, test prep, and admission products and services to help students achieve their academic goals.