University of the Ozarks Launches Data Analytics Program

University of the Ozarks has launched a new certification program in data analytics this summer.

The all-online program was developed in partnership with Podium Education in Austin, Texas, and will be available as credit-coursework for U of O students as well as a stand-alone certificate for the general public.

There are currently 18 Ozarks students enrolled in a summer session data analytics boot camp to launch the program. The summer boot camp consists of a pair of three-credit courses – Introduction to Applied Analytics and Data Visualization with Tableau.

The certificate program is 12 credits and can be completed over three semesters. The full program will begin in the 2020 Fall Semester.

University Provost Dr. Alyson Gill said data analytics is a much-requested skill set from both students as well as prospective employers.

“When we looked at regional market needs, we realized that there was a significant gap in training in data analytics—meaning that a significant number of posted positions listed data analytics as a preferred skill with no local or accessible program offering that training,” Gill said. “This program, which is for our current students and also as a stand-alone certificate for others outside the University, provides a ‘leg up’ in the job market. These skills are desirable for businesses as they lead to better understanding of their customers along with how to  market to those customers.”

Gill said students can benefit from data analytics regardless of their major or professional interests and that they do not have to have a background in computer science or statistics.

“This certificate provides numerous transferable skills, including problem-solving, project management and critical thinking,” Gill said. “At the same time, these skills extend across all academic disciplines, and, because of this multidisciplinary impact, it benefits everyone.”

Gill said the University is exploring expanding the data analytics certificate program into a minor.

Henderson Named Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Engagement at University of the Ozarks

University of the Ozarks alumnus Brian W. Henderson has been named the new director of annual giving and alumni engagement at the University, according to Lori McBee, vice president for advancement and alumni engagement. He will begin his new duties on Aug. 3.

Photo of man wearing a suit
Brian Henderson

McBee also announced two promotions within the advancement office that will be effective July 1: Rebecca Lester will be the director of foundation relations and major gifts, and Mary Jane Spillers will serve as director of operations, data and research.

A 2002 graduate of Ozarks, Henderson has worked in higher education since 2007 and has been at the University of Arkansas since 2013, where he served as the director of employer relations and student placement in the College of Engineering.

“I am happy to have Brian joining our team,” McBee said. “He brings a great deal of experience in relationship building and stewardship of donors and alumni. Because Brian is an Ozarks graduate, he personally understands the value of the annual fund and will be a great leader in his role with donors and our alumni.”

At Ozarks, Henderson will manage the day-to-day operations of all annual giving, athletic giving and alumni engagement initiatives, including donor research and identification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship elements of the University’s fundraising cycle. He will also oversee alumni engagement and alumni programing.

“I am thrilled to be joining the Ozarks family,” Henderson said. “I have a deep passion for the University of the Ozarks and the Clarksville community and feel this is a perfect place for my faith and work to mesh in showing God’s love to others. This opportunity is more than a just a job to me. My wife and all of her family are from Clarksville and I have numerous family ties to the area as well. I look forward to building new relationships with Ozarks alumni and, more importantly, I look forward to connecting with alumni that I have lost contact with over the years. Ozarks is a special place and I look forward to working closely with our donors and alumni to make it even more special for future generations.”

“I have more than 12 years of higher education experience and in my wildest dreams would have never thought returning to Ozarks would be a possibility. I am so thankful for this opportunity and look forward to advancing Ozarks mission and leading the annual fund and alumni engagement office.”

Prior to joining University of Arkansas, Henderson was the director of Student Services for the College of Business at UA-Little Rock from 2009 to 2012. He also worked at Arkansas Tech University from 2007 to 2009 in several positions, including career development specialist/instructor and director of intramural sports and recreation.

A native of Berryville, Ark., Henderson was a basketball standout at Ozarks, earning team MVP and team captain honors in 2002. After graduating from Ozarks, he went on to earn a master’s degree in health and human performance from Northwestern State University in Louisiana in 2004.

Henderson and his wife, Jaye, have two sons, Hayes, 8, and Harris, 4. Jaye, a native of Clarksville and professor of nursing at University of Arkansas, recently accepted a new teaching position at Arkansas Tech University.

Henderson’s hobbies include, spending time with family, traveling, playing sports with his boys, golfing, and laying on the beach listening to music when not in Arkansas.

Hagaman Named Dean of University of the Ozarks’ NSM Division

Dr. Joel A. Hagaman, associate professor of psychology, has been named the dean of the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, effective July 1.

He will replace Dr. Sean Coleman, who will leave the University following this semester to take a teaching position at Wartburg College in Iowa.

“I am delighted that Dr. Hagaman will be taking on this new role,” said U of O Provost Dr. Alyson Gill. “I have every confidence that the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the University will benefit from his leadership, and I look forward to working with him in the future.”

Hagaman, who earned his Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas in 2008, has taught at Ozarks since August of 2008. He was promoted to associate professor of psychology and granted tenure in April of 2014.

“I’m excited to serve the school in this new capacity,” Hagaman said. “After 12 years of teaching, it will be a new, and I anticipate fulfilling, challenge to take on this roll. I’ll do my best to continue the fine leadership of the division modeled by my predecessors.”

Hagaman also holds degrees from Monmouth College in Illinois and Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.

University of the Ozarks Board Votes No Tuition Increase for 2020-21

The University of the Ozarks Board of Trustees on April 25 voted to freeze tuition for the 2020-21 academic year amid the uncertainty brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic

It is the sixth time in the last eight years that the University has not raised tuition. Since 2013, tuition at Ozarks has risen just 5 percent.

University President Richard Dunsworth said the Board took into consideration the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on students and their families in the decision to keep tuition flat.

“Now, more than ever, our decisions need to be mission-driven and focused on accessibility and affordability,” Dunsworth said. “We understand that families are struggling and that there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the future. One of our primary goals has been to reduce the amount of debt for students through controlling the cost of tuition and allocating existing resources, including scholarships, grants and other financial assistance. Our efforts to control costs and improve quality are consistent with the mission and values of the University and are more paramount than ever.”

There were also no changes to the University’s learning material fees and a slight $100 average increase to room and board for the upcoming academic year. In addition, the board approved a revamped model of the Jones Learning Center that will allow the program to reduce its fees by 48 percent, beginning the 2020-21 academic year.

Dunsworth commended the University’s alumni and friends for their support of student scholarships, pointing out that the current Climb Higher Campaign has already raised more than $32 million in scholarship endowment support.

“Our alumni and friends continue to faithfully and generously support the mission of the University by financially supporting out students’ education,” Dunsworth said. “We are extremely blessed to have such caring and engaged alumni and friends who understand the value and importance of an Ozarks education and who want to help our students experience that.”

There are approximately 200 privately funded scholarships available for Ozarks students from alumni and friends and the University awarded nearly $12 million in financial aid to Ozarks students in 2019-20.

U of O’s tuition of $24,950 is more than 30 percent less than the national average of $36,880 for a private, four-year university, according to The College Board’s Trends in College Pricing 2019. Not raising tuition also runs counter to national trends in higher education. According to The College Board, the national average tuition increase was 3.4 percent for private nonprofit universities in 2019-20.

University of the Ozarks Innovation Hub Producing Ear Guards for Healthcare Workers

University of the Ozarks is utilizing its Innovation Hub to help provide relief to local healthcare workers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ethan Hefley, information technology network manager, is leading the University’s efforts in producing ear guards for masks on four 3-D printers in the Innovation Hub, which was established last semester.

The ear guards help healthcare workers who experience discomfort from extended use of protective masks. The ear guards were designed by Quinn Callander, a 12-year-old Canadian boy scout who was searching for a simple but effective device that would prevent the elastic bands on a mask from rubbing against the backs of people’s ears.

Callander’s design, a wide plastic strap that goes around the back of the head, has notches so the wearer can loop the mask’s elastic straps around whichever notches are most comfortable, allowing them to adjust the tension while keeping the mask firmly in place. He made the strap’s design available for others to download from the open-source 3D printing community Thingiverse.

3-D Printed ear guards

Hefley said he has printed about 150 ear guards as of Thursday afternoon and has distributed almost 100 to healthcare providers in Clarksville.

“I was looking for a way that we could utilize our 3-D printers in this effort to fight the coronavirus and I looked into masks, but that just wasn’t going to work,” Hefley said. “My wife saw (Callander’s) prototype on the internet and brought it to my attention. I felt like this would be a perfect way to utilize the 3-D printers to assist our healthcare workers.”

Hefley said the four 3-D printers can produce a combined 20 ear guards every two and a half hours at a cost of about 35 cents a mask in material, which is a corn plastic filament.

Hefley delivered about 20 ear guards to the Clarksville Medical Group on Thursday morning, much to the delight of administrator Jeri Williams and her medical colleagues.

“These ear guards will help tremendously for the nurses who are having to wear masks all day long a daily basis,” Williams said. “Our personnel have no choice but to wear masks right now at all times and the constant rubbing has become a real problem. The ear guards are the perfect solution. We are extremely excited and appreciative to get these.”

Hefley said he also dropped off 30 ear guards Thursday at the Johnson Regional Medical Center for their healthcare workers to try out. Before he even had time to get back to the office, hospital administrators called and requested 30 more.

“The neat thing is that the ear guards are making a difference and the healthcare workers are excited to be receiving them,” Hefley said. “It’s rewarding to know that the we can play a small role in assisting them in this fight against the virus.”

University of the Ozarks Alumni Board Names Grant in Honor of Joe Hoing

The University of the Ozarks Alumni Association Board of Directors has decided to name one of its most prestigious student grants in memory of Joe Hoing, the University’s beloved long-time dean of students.

Photograph of college teacher

At its annual winter meeting on Feb.22, the board voted to establish the Joe Hoing Student Involvement Grant. Formerly known as the Alumni Connections Student Involvement Grant, it is awarded for projects and initiatives that enrich connections between alumni and current students.

Hoing, who died in August at the age of 71, served as dean of students at Ozarks for 29 years, until his retirement in 2014. The former college All-American football player also taught fitness and weight training classes at Ozarks for many years.

“The Alumni Board members wanted a way to recognize Joe Hoing and the positive impact he left on so many students at Ozarks,” said Justin McCormick, associate director of alumni engagement. “In his honor, the board felt that by renaming a pre-existing grant serving student involvement would capture this dedication and allow students for generations to continue to work toward the legacy he left at Ozarks.”

University of the Ozarks Adds Women’s Wrestling

University of the Ozarks will launch a women’s wrestling program beginning the 2020-21 academic year, Eagles Athletic Director Jimmy Clark announced this week.

The program will be a club sport for the 2020-21 year and will move to an NCAA Division III varsity intercollegiate program starting in the fall of 2021, according to Clark. The new team will expand Ozarks’ varsity sports offerings to 21 intercollegiate programs.

The University has offered men’s wrestling since 2014. The current men’s wrestling head coach, LeRoy Gardner, will also lead the women’s program. The University will hire an additional assistant coach to assist with the new program.

“Women’s wrestling is one of the fastest-growing sports in this country in both college and high school and we’re excited about offering this opportunity for women who want to compete on the collegiate level,” Clark said. “We’ve been considering adding it for a couple of years and with our men’s wrestling program thriving, we felt it was the right time to add it. We’ve got the facilities and infrastructure in place, so it just seemed like a natural fit.”

In 2019, the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) sanction women’s high school wrestling in Arkansas, becoming the 18th state to have the sport at the high school level.  Nationally there were 2,980 high school sponsoring teams and 21,124 girls wrestling at the high school level in 2018-19, according to a survey by the National Federation of State High School Associations. That’s up 5,000 from the previous year.

In addition, women’s wrestling was voted in January as an Emerging Sport in NCAA Division III, a giant step toward it becoming an NCAA sanctioned championship-level sport in the near future. There are approximately 65 colleges and universities nationwide who sponsor NAIA or NCAA women’s wrestling programs, including Lyon College in Arkansas.

Gardner, a former NCAA Division III national champion wrestler at Wartburg College who was inducted into the National Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2010, has watched the rapid growth of women’s wrestling.

“As a wrestler and a coach I have been excited about the growth of women’s wrestling,” Gardner said. “Now, even more so with the growth in the region and the opportunity to share with these student-athletes all the University of the Ozarks has to offer. It is an exciting time for our sport, campus and community.”

Clark said he hopes to have about 5-10 wrestlers in the program in the fall of 2020 as the team goes through a limited schedule as a club sport.

“That will give us a full year to get the program completely up to speed and to prepare our student-athletes to compete on the varsity level,” Clark said.    

Collegiate women’s wrestling is currently classified as a winter sport, with competition beginning in October and running through February. The Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association (WCWA) governs the sport and has overseen the national championships since 2008. Until the NCAA structure has been approved and implemented, Ozarks will join and compete in the WCWA. Women’s wrestling has been an Olympic sport since 2004, and will be contested in its fifth Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.

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.