Six to be Inducted into University of the Ozarks Sports Hall of Fame

Six alumni have been selected to be inducted into the University of the Ozarks Sports Hall of Fame during a ceremony on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.

The University’s Sports Hall of Fame committee selected Bill Ballard ’56, Ronnie Cookson ’66, the late Charles Daniel ’71, Mandi (Carter) Koch ’07, Robby Finnell ’08 and Olivia (Fisher) Bickford ’09 to join the hall during the Ozarks Awards Ceremony in October, part of Homecoming 2019.

It’s the largest induction class for the exclusive club since 1991 when six alumni were also selected. The additions bring the total of Ozarks Sports Hall of Fame members to 57 individuals and one team, the 1983-84 men’s basketball team.

The Sports Hall of Fame committee is made up of Jimmy Clark, director of athletics; Lori McBee, vice president for advancement; Dr. Deb Sisson, associate professor of business and athletic faculty representative; Sydney Key, student-athlete representative; alumnus and hall of fame member Sylvester Benson; alumnus and hall of fame member Don Kessler; and alumnus Ian Bryan.

The 2019 inductees for the University of the Ozarks Sports Hall of Fame include:

Bill Ballard ’56 was a three-year letterman in both basketball and baseball at Ozarks. He earned Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference Pitcher of the Year honors in 1956, leading Ozarks to the conference baseball title. He coached basketball at Ozarks from 1957-60 before moving on to Little Rock University (now UA-Little Rock). As a 30-year-old, he helped UALR start its basketball program as its first head coach and athletic director from 1960-1965. He also helped the university establish its first baseball program. He was inducted into the UALR Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.

Ronnie Cookson ’66 won a total of 15 state championships in a stellar 27-year career as the boys basketball coach at Scott County Central High School in Missouri. He led the Class 1A Braves from 1970-1995, retired, then returned from 2007-09. His overall record was 694-137 (.835 winning percentage) and was a remarkable 28-2 in state final four games. Along with 15 state titles, Cookson led his program to 22 conference titles and 22 district titles. He was named Missouri’s Coach of the Year five times by the Missouri Sportswriters Association and nine times by the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association. He was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.

Charles Daniel ’71 played baseball, football and basketball at Ozarks and in 1957 became the only former Ozarks baseball player to play in a major league baseball game, according to the Society for Baseball Research. Daniel pitched for Ozarks in 1952 and five years later reached the major leagues with the Detroit Tigers. He signed a professional contract with Detroit in 1952 for $4,000 and pitched a total of eight seasons in the minor leagues before retiring in 1961. In a late-season matchup at Kansas City in 1957, Daniel pitched 2 1/3 innings, giving up three hits and striking out two. It was Daniel’s only appearance in a MLB game. An elbow injury suffered in a minor league game in 1959 eventually forced him out of baseball. The hard-throwing right-hander’s fastball was once clocked at 95 mph. He returned to Ozarks in the early 1970s to complete his degree and had a 38-year career with International Trucks. He passed away in 2008 at his home in Hot Springs Village.

Mandi (Carter) Koch ‘07 was an all-around athlete and one of the most prolific scorers in U of O women’s basketball history, finishing second all-time with 1,538 career points. Her 826 career rebounds were also second-most in program history. An athletic 6-foot-1 forward, Carter racked up four all-conference awards, capping her senior season with all-region honors from Following her junior season, she was voted to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Team. For her career, she averaged 15.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and over one block per game. Additionally, Carter lettered in soccer three seasons and earned multiple academic awards in both basketball and soccer.

Robby Finnell ’08 starred for the Eagles baseball team from 2005-08 and remains the program’s all-time modern era leader in career games started (160), home runs (31), RBIs (159) and walks (73). He is also among the career leaders in hits (2nd), runs scored (3rd) and slugging percentage (3rd). He also holds the season mark in RBIs (56) and is second in home runs (13).  He was a three-time All-ASC selection, including first team in 2008. He was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America first team and the All-America second team in 2008. Helped the Eagles to a program-best 32-11 record in 2008.

Olivia (Fisher) Bickford ’09 was a three-sport standout for Ozarks from 2004-09, starring in basketball, tennis and soccer. As a four-year starter in basketball, Bickford earned All-ASC freshman honors in 2004-2005 and All-ASC All-East honorable mention honors following both her junior and senior seasons. She is fourth in career rebounding (817). In soccer, she was also a four-year starter, starting every game from her freshman to senior seasons. She was a team captain and midfielder and in 2006 assumed goalie duties for an injured teammate and had 175 saves in 19 matches. In tennis, she played No. 1 singles and doubles for four years and remains third in career singles victories (22), fourth in career doubles victories (18) and forth in singles winning percentage (.564). She was a two-time U of O Female Athlete of the Year.

University of the Ozarks President Elected Chair of APCU

University of the Ozarks President Richard L. Dunsworth, J.D., has been elected as the new chair of the board of directors of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities (APCU) at the organization’s annual meeting in March. His term will run through July 2020.

Man wearing suit posing for photograph in front of stone building.
University of the Ozarks President Richard Dunsworth

Dunsworth has served on the APCU board since 2017. The APCU is an independent, non-profit association that is dedicated to assisting the 56 Presbyterian-affiliated colleges and universities throughout the U.S.

“I am honored to serve on the board of directors of the APCU and humbled that my peers would elect me to serve in a leadership role,” Dunsworth said.

Dunsworth became the 25th president of the university on June 1, 2013. Under his leadership, enrollment at the private-four-year Presbyterian-affiliated university has increased nearly 50 percent—from 585 in 2013 to 872 in 2018—and the university has raised more than $45 million for scholarships and facilities in its current Climb Higher Campaign.

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

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

The APCU is governed by a board of directors consisting of presidents from 12 member institutions and the president of the Presbyterian College Chaplains Association (PCCA). The executive committee of the board includes the current board chair, the treasurer, the chair-elect, and the executive director of the association. Board members serve three-year terms.

Daily, Rossmaier Named Academic Deans

University of the Ozarks officials have announced that Dr. David Daily and Joel Rossmaier have been named academic deans in their respective divisions, effective July 1.

Daily, professor of religion, will serve as the dean of the Humanities & Fine Arts Division, while Rossmaier, associate professor of practice of business and accounting, will be the dean of the University’s Division of Social Sciences.

The appointments coincide with the July 1 reorganization of the academic divisions.

Daily has taught at Ozarks since 2000 and received the University’s Bagwell Outstanding Faculty Award in both 2004 and 2009.  He will replace Dr. Steve Oatis, professor of history, who has served as dean since 2015.

“It will be an honor to serve as dean of the Division of Humanities & Fine Arts,” Daily said. “Through his years in that role, Steve Oatis has put the division on a strong footing, and I look forward to building on his work.”

Rossmaier, joined Ozarks in 2002 as an adjunct instructor and became a full-time professor in 2003. He served as interim dean of the Division of Business at Ozarks for the 2018-19 academic year.

“I am honored to be named as the dean of the Division of Social Sciences,” Rossmaier said. “The University is going through some exciting changes right now, and I look forward to being able to contribute to the growth of the programs within the division.”

University Provost Dr. Alyson Gill commended the two new deans, who have a combined 36 years of Ozarks teaching experience.

“Dr. Daily is a deeply respected member of the Ozarks community, and I am thrilled that he has agreed to take on this new role,” said Gill. “Since I have known him, I have found his to be a voice of gentle reason, and he brings with him not only a love for the Ozarks community, but a commitment to leading in a time of unprecedented growth with pedagogical richness. As the new dean of Humanities & Fine Arts, I believe that he will play a critical role in providing strong, consistent and communicative leadership for the division.”

“Last year, I asked Professor Rossmaier to serve as interim Dean of Business. I have seen him step more fully into that role, and have grown to rely on his sound advice and ability to view things from multiple perspectives. He is a skilled navigator of complex spreadsheets, and comes into this role as a respected and thoughtful leader.”

Oatis will return to full-time teaching and will continue to chair the provost advisory group and serve as the division representative on the HLC strategic assessment team.

“As a new provost, I appreciate Dr. Oatis’ tireless efforts in leading the division over the years,” Gill said. “This cannot be overstated, and I am deeply grateful for his service to the University—a place that he loves and is deeply invested in.”

In a related note, beginning July 1 the four current academic divisions will be aligned to reflect the LENS curriculum and will be known as Humanities & Fine Arts, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences & Mathematics divisions. With this re-organization, the communication and sociology disciplines will move to Social Sciences.

The reorganized divisions:

Humanities & Fine Arts (Dr. David Daily, Dean)

MAJORS: Art, English, History, Music, Philosophy, Religion, Spanish, Theatre

MINORS:  American Studies, Art, Creative Writing & Thought, English, History, Interfaith Studies, Music, Philosophy, Religion, Spanish, Theatre

Social Sciences (Joel Rossmaier, Dean)

MAJORS: Accounting, Business Administration, Communication Studies, Elementary Education, Environmental Studies, Physical Education K-12, Political Science, Sociology

MINORS: Accounting, Athletic Coaching, Business Administration, Communication Studies, Criminal Justice, Economics, Education, Film Studies, Management, Marketing, Media Production, Military Science, Physical Education, Political Science, Sociology, Strategic Communication

Natural Sciences & Mathematics (Dr. Sean Coleman, Dean)

MAJORS:  Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Studies, Health Science, Mathematics, Psychology

MINORS: Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Studies, Health Science, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology, Sustainable Agriculture

Skinner to Join University of the Ozarks Faculty

West Virginia native Chris Skinner will join the University of the Ozarks faculty as an assistant professor of health science, beginning the Fall 2019 Semester.

Man posing for photograph in front of colorful background.
Chris Skinner

Skinner, who is expected to complete his Ph.D. in nutrition from West Virginia University (WVU) in May, is a native of Buckhannon, West Virginia. He earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from West Virginia Wesleyan College and a master’s degree in exercise physiology from WVU.

He is wrapping up a doctorate in human nutrition from the WVU Division of Animal and Nutritional Sciences. His Ph.D. work has focused on repurposing apple pomace, a waste byproduct from apple processing, as a novel aid for pediatric nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Skinner said he is passionate about teaching courses in the health sciences, involving students in the research process and helping students achieve their goals.

“I completed my undergraduate education at a small liberal arts college focused on providing students with an excellent education through committed, enthusiastic and intelligent faculty,” he said. “This undergraduate experience instilled in me a deep interest in teaching as my professors strengthened my already existent life-long love of learning. I continued my education at a large research institution and there I gained crucial skills in scientific practices, practical education, laboratory methodology and mentorship approaches.

“This combination of these experiences culminated in my teaching philosophy: To foster a comfortable learning environment by providing multiple teaching styles and learning methods, with a focus on completely understanding and applying material.”

Skinner has obtained a graduate certificate in university teaching during his doctoral studies. He has also completed more than 200 hours of community service during the course of his doctoral studies, including with the WVU Arboretum, the Monongalia County Recycling Program and the Morgantown Marathon.

Outside of work, Skinner said he enjoys all things outdoors, attending concerts, playing sports and music, and staying active.

Food 4 Fines Program Benefits Local Families

Something good has come out of those pesky parking tickets.

Thanks to a new Food 4 Fines program, the University of the Ozarks’ Office of Public Safety on Friday donated a large barrel of canned goods to the Clarksville School District’s backpack program, which serves underprivileged families.

The Food 4 Fines program was started earlier this semester and allows students, faculty and staff who receive parking tickets on campus to donate $10 worth of food to pay off their first parking ticket, which typically runs $50.

“As you can imagine, this program has been quite popular,” said Larry Graham, director of public safety. “When people realize that they have the option of bringing in canned goods instead of paying a $50 fine, they’re usually pretty happy. Plus, they feel good about doing something that benefits the community and children.”

University Chaplain Rev. Jeremy Wilhelmi and several students helped Graham box up the canned goods and deliver them to Pyron Elementary School, where they will be distributed through the school’s backpack program.

Graham said the idea for the program came from U of O Wrestling Coach LeRoy Gardner, who had seen a similar program at another university. He said approximately 30 people have donated canned goods this semester in lieu of paying their parking fines.

“We feel like the program has been a success and we plan to keep it going,” Graham said. “We feel like there are still deterrents to illegal parking, but that this program gives first offenders an option to turn something bad, like a parking ticket, into something positive, like helping people.”

University officials said the Food 4 Fines program applies only to first-time offenders.

Williams Legacy Continues with Donation of House

The grandchildren of long-time Clarksville residents Everett E. and Myrtle Mae Williams believe that their deceased grandparents would be happy knowing the house they built near the University of the Ozarks campus nearly a century ago is now a part of the University.

Photograph of a gray house.

The Williams House, located at 406 Brown Street, about three blocks west of campus, was recently donated to the University by descendants of Everett and Myrtle Mae Williams, who built the house in 1926.

The 928-square-foot, two bedroom house was gifted by the family in memory of one of the Williamses’ grandsons, Keith Kilcrease, a 1964 U of O graduate who died in 1983. Keith’s sister, Susan, also attended Ozarks, as did numerous relatives.

“This college has always meant a lot of our family and we feel great that it’s going to be a part of the University and that the family name will continue to be recognized with the house,” said Mitch Kilcrease, a grandson of Everett and Myrtle Williams. “Our family has a long history with Clarksville and the University and donating the home to the University was the right thing to do.”

Everett, who died in 1971 at the age of 77, was a World War I veteran and a long-time butcher at a local grocery in Clarksville. Myrtle Mae, who died in 1999 at the age of 97, was a well-known seamstress in the community.

“My grandmother would often sew and do alterations for the college presidents and other faculty and administrators,” Mitch Kilcrease said. “She would also board college students who needed a place to stay. C of O always meant so much to her and she would have a great big smile on her face now knowing that their home belonged to the college.”

Everett and Myrtle Williams had four children — Evelyn Kemp, Robert “Spurlie” Williams, Jean Kilcrease and Kathryn Baskin, who lived in the house for most of the past four decades. Baskin moved to Nashville about five years ago and the house has been unoccupied since then.

Mitch Kilcrease, an administrator at Florida State University, is one of eight children of Robert Lloyd Kilcrease and Jean (Williams) Kilcrease. In 1983, the family created a scholarship in memory of Keith Kilcrease for marketing students at Ozarks.

“Our family is connected to University of the Ozarks in a lot of ways and this is just the next step,” Mitch Kilcrease said. “Our grandparents would be pleased.”

The University is currently renovating the Williams House and it will be used for University housing.

University of the Ozarks Unveils Office of Advancement and Alumni Engagement

A new philosophical approach to advancement and alumni relations at University of the Ozarks has led to a new department name for those services— the Office of Advancement and Alumni Engagement.

The name change, effectively immediately, reflects an effort by the University to build stronger life-long relationships with its alumni and external constituents, according to Lori McBee, vice president for advancement and alumni engagement.

“Colleges and universities across the country are experiencing a decline in alumni participation, and we’re seeing that same trend here at Ozarks,” McBee said. “The name change shows that we’re placing a renewed emphasis on alumni engagement and that we’re committed to strong relationships with all of our alumni and friends. Engagement is becoming more and more critical, not only to achieve today’s fundraising goals, but to build a base of active and invested alumni and friends who will become our supporters of tomorrow.”

The Office of Advancement and Alumni Engagement encompasses several University programs, including development, alumni relations, church relations, major gifts, major grants and special events.

Cara Graham serves as the director of development and alumni engagement. McBee said a national search will begin in April for the position of associate director of alumni engagement.

Fishers’ Gift to Support Music, Religious Studies Programs

University of the Ozarks has received a gift commitment from John and Sue Fisher of Broken Arrow, Okla., and their daughter, Jennifer of Bixby, Okla., to benefit the music and religious studies programs

The gift was made in honor of Jennifer, a 1993 U of O graduate, and will be used to fund faculty chair endowments for the music and religious studies programs as well as to help fund student scholarships.

Jennifer was a general studies major and also sang in the University choir.

John and Sue Fisher said the gift is a testament of their love for their daughter and for the role that U of O has played in Jennifer’s life.

The gift agreement read: “Jennifer has a great love for University of the Ozarks and the life she had while a student on campus. What she took away from her experience at Ozarks will remain with her always. Singing in the choir was a wonderful memory for Jennifer and she continues to sing with the campus choir during Homecoming and alumni choir events.”

The gift is part of the University’s current five-year, $55 million CLIMB HIGHER Campaign that was launched in 2014.  The campaign has raised nearly $44 million for scholarships and facilities.

“A strong America depends on an educated community to make informed decisions concerning its governance,” said John Fisher. “University of the Ozarks has demonstrated its ability as a leader in higher education, where students are infused with the understanding that the actions of conscience will stand the test of time. The University has been highly successful in equipping students armed with the skills and tools to function in a challenging world. We support the programs, the philosophy and the goals of University of the Ozarks and we are proud to have a part in providing for its continued presence in the academic community, where bigger is not always better.”

John Fisher is retired from a business career where he held major positions with a Fortune 500 company in Chicago. Later in his career he owned a retail home center in Broken Arrow and served as a national bank director for 26 years. He remains active in his community. Sue has been involved in various church ministries and currently serves as the director of Healing Hats, a city-wide ministry in Tulsa, Okla.

After graduating from Ozarks, Jennifer went on to earn a master’s degree in Christian education from Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky. She has been involved in Masonic affiliated activities since the early 1980s and is a member of the International Order of Rainbow Girls and the Order of the Eastern Stars. She also serves as the director of the Green Country Puppeteers, a Christian ministry for young children. Jennifer has served on the U of O Alumni Association Board of Directors and received the University’s Young Alumni Award in 2001. She is employed in the retail field.

MacLean Hall Undergoing $10 Million Renovation

University of the Ozarks’ MacLean Hall is currently undergoing a $10 million renovation, the most extensive refurbishment project in the building’s 92-year history.

Construction began in December on the stately “H” shaped, three-story student residence hall that was completed in 1927 and sits on the east side of College Avenue. The current project is expected to be completed in early August, in time for the start of the 2019-20 academic year.

The renovation will include a fire sprinkler system, new central heat and air systems, an elevator, and all new mechanical, electrical and plumbing components. The student housing capacity will increase from 170 to 220 and additional common areas and laundry facilities will be created.

Most of the work this semester is being performed on the lower level after approximately 40 students who resided there in the fall were accommodated in other campus housing. The remainder of the renovations will take place during the summer break.

“This is a full renovation of MacLean Hall,” said Jeff Scaccia, vice president for finance and administration. “Basically we’re taking all the deferred maintenance out of the building and putting in new systems and components that are more modern and energy efficient. And, in many ways we’re restoring the building to its historic look.”

One example of reverting to the original look will be at the front of the building. With the inclusion of the fire sprinkler system, the external staircases that were added in the early 2000s are no longer needed and will be taken down.

The addition of an elevator to the historic building, as well as an ADA entrance door on the east side, will make MacLean Hall much more accessible.

The renovation project will also include new bathrooms, LED lightning and furnishings throughout the building. The large second-floor ballroom will also be renovated and a gas fireplace added. A courtyard will be created in the back of the building and new landscaping will be incorporated.

MacLean Hall was constructed in 1926-27 at a cost of $150,000. It was named in honor of Marie MacLean of Atlantic City, N.J., who was inspired to donate $60,000 for the project after hearing then-Ozarks President Dr. Wiley Lin Hurie speak at her church. Much of the original design and construction was completed by Ozarks’ faculty and students.

MacLean has undergone major renovations in 1968, 1976, 1988 and the early 2000s.

The current project’s construction company is Nabholz Corp., and Credo Design Architects is the architectural firm.