University of the Ozarks Students Create Marketing Plans for Local Businesses

Four local Johnson County business owners recently received marketing and promotion recommendations for their businesses, courtesy of University of the Ozarks students in Marketing Instructor Jaime Encinas’ Promotion Strategies class.

As part of a semester-long class project, students were divided into small groups to work with the local business owners to create ways to help market and promote their businesses. The groups presented their plans to the business owners on campus in December, as part of their final exams.

Working with the Clarksville-Johnson County Chamber of Commerce, Encinas enlisted four local businesses to take part in the class project — King Gallery, La Michoacana Dulce Vida, KK’s Dance Company and Reveal Cabinet & Closet.

“This was an exciting exercise,” Encinas said. “The idea was twofold: One, exposing the students to working with real businesses in real situations, and taking just another step in getting the University closer to our local community. The project was to develop a promotion strategy for each of four local businesses, or clients, based on their own strategic goals. It represented the largest portion of the students’ grade, which highlights its importance.”

Encinas said the students put serious effort into the project.

“In some cases they went through significant but valuable changes from step to step, resulting in ideas quite different from what they had started early on,” he said. “But that is how the real world works.”

Group of students and adults pose for a group photograph in a classroom

Dulce Baeza of La Michoacana said she was impressed with the students’ work and appreciated the perspective the students provided.

“To be able to get feedback on my business from the perspective of younger people is very valuable,” Baeza said. “Sometimes we think we know what people want but that’s not always the case. And, it’s not easy to think about these things when you’re busy just trying to run the business every day. It was great to hear their ideas and opinions on ways to promote the restaurant.”

The students who worked on the Reveal Cabinet & Closet project recommended the business expand its social media and digital presence by setting specific goals, something that caught the attention of owner Sheena Higby.

“I liked the idea of setting social media goals and then tracking the results, something I hadn’t really thought of,” Higby said. “Getting the unique perspective of this demographic is something we don’t have the luxury of doing, so I thought it was a great way to get some new ideas.”

The students also appreciate the opportunity to work on a real-world project.

“To be able to work with real clients on real problems, using research and then pitching our ideas to the clients was a great experience,” said senior Valeria Carias of Honduras. “When we were first told about the project, I was a little terrified because it seemed overwhelming. But once I met with the client and we started putting together a plan, it was exciting to know that you’re helping a real business succeed.”

Alexandria Corona, a senior psychology major from Houston, Texas, was part of a three-person team that worked on a strategy for King Gallery, an art gallery and store in downtown Clarksville. Their plan included creating awareness and appreciation for art in the area through events such as a “Night at the Museum,” and with the slogan “Enrich Yourself.”

“It was a great experience to work as a team with one main objective — help King Gallery grow its brand and its reach,” Corona said. “When you work on these projects, you start to understand the obstacles and challenges that small businesses face. I was definitely outside my comfort zone on this project, but I think it prepared me to do these types of things in the future.”

Tanner Young, a senior psychology major from Euless, Texas, said working on the project opened a new perspective for him.

“Even though I had experience doing quite a bit of research in the past, I had never conducted business research and it was quite different,” Young said. “When Professor Encinas told us that there were no due dates, only deadlines, I think it sunk in that this wasn’t just class work; this was like a professional project that we were working on. It was really quite humbling to know that the businesses trusted us to work with them and to help them.”

Seniors Denise Garcia of Clarksville and Barbara Yanez of Chile worked with KK’s Dance Company to help the business increase awareness and retain students.

“This project made me realize how these small companies really need help and how I can help make a difference for them,” Yanez said. “I plan to pursue a career in business and marketing so I thought this was extremely helpful for me.”

Encinas said he enjoyed watching the students make their final presentations to their clients.

“It was exciting to see some of the business owners nodding their heads in agreement and it was even more exciting to hear their positive comments at the end,” Encinas said. “Some of the clients may actually implement some of the ideas, perhaps even the slogans created by the students.”

“I must express my gratitude to the Chamber of Commerce for their support from the initial contacts with the clients to assessing the students’ presentations,” Encinas said. “And, of course, my sincere appreciation to each of our clients, the local businesses that worked with us, confiding their goals, and giving us the time both on campus and on their premises. Without their support, this project would have been impossible. This was indeed as close as the students get to work in a real business environment.”

University of the Ozarks Develops Affiliation with Greystone Prep School

Administrators from the University of the Ozarks and Greystone Prep School

University of the Ozarks has entered into an affiliation with the Greystone Preparatory School and will house their military programs at the University, beginning the summer of 2020. Greystone officials were on campus this week to finalize the agreement.

Greystone, which has been based at Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas, for the past 16 years, has both a one-year and a new four-year program for students planning a career in military leadership. The one-year program is a college-level academy preparatory school that prepares candidates for nomination, appointment and success at one of the five U.S. service academies: the Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.; the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.; the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.; the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.; or the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y.

The new four-year program is for U of O students enrolled in either the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), Navy Baccalaureate Degree Completion Program, United States Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Class, Coast Guard Scholars Program, Officer Candidate School or who are veterans. All programs potentially lead students to not only earning their bachelor’s degree, but ultimately a commission as an officer in the Armed Forces.

Greystone is best known for its success with academy candidates who aspire to earn their nomination and appointment to one of the five federal service academies. For those seeking their academy appointments, the Greystone motto is “Academy Preparation, University Education,” which reflects its unique level of academy preparation. It is the only academy prep school in the nation affiliated with a four-year, fully accredited university.

Over the course of the last 16 years, Greystone has helped over 475 young men and women to realize their dream of military service as academy trained and educated leaders of character while at Schreiner University. Greystone at Ozarks will now utilize its unique program of structure, organization and oversight to expand their capacity and assist those who seek their commission as officers in the Armed Forces through the other military commissioning programs.

U of O was selected by Greystone from more than 130 colleges and universities from around the country that met its very high academic, athletic and facilities standards.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be selected to join into a partnership with a prestigious program that has a long and proven track record of success in preparing young people to serve our nation in the academies and as commissioned officers,” said U of O President Richard Dunsworth. “Being selected by Greystone is a wonderful testament to the great work that our faculty, staff and board of trustees are doing in educating and preparing our students for their next steps. We look forward to helping Greystone continue its success of developing tomorrow’s military leaders.”

University officials expect about 20 Greystone freshmen on campus for the start of the Fall 2020 Semester and up to 50 students in the program within 2-3 years.

Under the affiliation model, Greystone academy-bound students will be full-time U of O freshmen and can earn up to 38 transferrable college credits. All Ozarks courses will be in sync with military academy first-year courses which enable many students to validate, or test out of, academy courses which provide these students with a significant advantage over other students entering the academies directly from high school or any other academy prep school.

The Greystone program was started by retired Navy Commander David Bailey, a 1981 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who remains the program’s executive director. According to Bailey, the Greystone model is simple — combine the strength and flexibility of a four-year, fully-accredited liberal arts university with a dynamic academy preparatory program that was specially designed by academy faculty, staff and alumni intended to maximize the scholastic, athletic and leadership credentials of each candidate.

Since its founding, a very high percentage of students have received formal congressional/senatorial nominations to their respective academies and approximately 85% of students have earned their final appointments to one of the five academies, according to Bailey.

“For Greystone, the easy part of the academy process is getting these students their nomination and appointment and the hard part is to keep them at the academies for four years so they can graduate and earn their commission as an officer,” Bailey said. “Greystone is not a one-year academy prep program, but rather a life-long commitment to these leaders ensuring they succeed. Over the past 16 years, of all the Greystone students who have entered the academies, 94% graduate and go on to serve and lead.”

Regarding the Greystone four-year program, Bailey said, “Greystone will utilize the same academy prep program it currently employs to oversee the academic, athletic and leadership development of these outstanding young people. As these four-year students advance at U of O, they will not only excel academically, but they will be afforded expanded leadership opportunities and experience to ensure these students not only graduate in four years, but they will exceed the expectations of their respective commissioning program – which starts their military careers by enabling them to stand out from all others in the same programs nationwide.”

Bailey added, “I am looking forward to joining the Ozarks campus community and serving the needs of those young patriots who aspire to serve this great nation.”

All Greystone students will be required to provide over 100 hours of community service per year. “They will be starting their life of service by performing their duties on the Clarksville stage, but within the next four to five years, these same Greystone students will be serving the nation on the world stage.” Bailey said.

The Greystone program will be housed in one of the University’s apartment-style residence halls. Dunsworth said the University may hire additional faculty, particularly in mathematics and the sciences, to accommodate the curriculum needs of Greystone students.

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.