Tech Alumnus Named State’s Top Veterinarian

Arkansas Tech University alumnus Dr. David Oates was named 2017 veterinarian of the year by the Arkansas Veterinary Medical Association during the organization’s 2018 conference in Hot Springs.

A 1979 graduate of ATU with a degree in pre-veterinary medicine, Oates went on to earn his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Louisiana State University.

Oates practices at Russellville Animal Clinic alongside fellow Arkansas Tech alumnus Dr. Heath Stump. They serve as the official veterinarians for Jerry the Bulldog, campus ambassador at Arkansas Tech.

Photographed: Dr. David Oates, 2017 Arkansas Veterinary Medical Association veterinarian of the year, and his wife, Arkansas Tech alumna Tonya Oates. 

ATU Alumnus Making Strides in Music Career

A new year has brought two big developments in the music career of Arkansas Tech University alumnus Cody Belew.

First, Belew signed with the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).

According to its website, ASCAP is a “professional organization of 650,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers, owned and run by its members, and the world leader in performance royalties, advocacy and service for music creators.”

As a result of his affiliation with ASCAP, Belew will play at one of the most famous venues in Nashville, Tenn., this week.

Belew is on the bill for “ASCAP Presents: In The Round with Cody Belew, Joe Clemmons, Josh Grider and Hunter Phelps” on Wednesday, Feb. 7, at the Bluebird Cafe.

Opened in 1982, the Bluebird Cafe played a key role in launching the careers of such artists as Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift.

Belew graduated from Beebe High School and earned a vocal performance scholarship to Arkansas Tech. He performed with the Concert Chorale, Chamber Choir and the Music Theatre Workshop during his days as a student in Russellville.

He graduated from Arkansas Tech in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music.

Belew went on to perform at a variety of venues around the state of Arkansas before moving to Nashville, Tenn., to pursue his career as a recording and touring artist. He has returned home to ATU to perform with the Arkansas Tech Jazz Ensemble and was the featured entertainment at the inaugural ATU Scholarship Dinner in 2015.

Learn more about Cody Belew.

Tell Your Tech Love Story

In its more than 100-year history, Arkansas Tech has played host to countless couples connecting on campus.

Many of those Tech love stories have resulted in years of happiness for Tech alumni.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, Arkansas Tech wants to hear those Tech love stories.

Each day throughout the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, Arkansas Tech will share the story of one couple who found love on the Tech campus.

Submit your Tech love story.

Be sure to log back on next week to see the winning stories.

Normans Give $500,000 for ATU Scholarships

Robert and Sandra Norman of Tulsa, Okla., have made a $500,000 gift to the Arkansas Tech University Foundation to endow scholarships for business data analytics, management and marketing students in the ATU College of Business.

“The Norman family has a long and distinguished history of philanthropy at Arkansas Tech University,” said Mike Hutchison, ATU vice president for advancement. “They are invested in our mission of student success. This gift augments the already sizable legacy of the Norman family at Arkansas Tech and further demonstrates their affection for their alma mater. On behalf of the students who will benefit from their generosity, we express our appreciation to Mr. and Mrs. Norman.”

Robert Norman was recruited to Arkansas Tech by Coach Sam Hindsman to join the Wonder Boys football program. He was also active in the U.S. Army ROTC program while at Tech, and upon his graduation from Tech, he served his country in the military.

Sandra Norman is the daughter of the late Mrs. Eunice Brownlee Ferguson, the long-time food service manager for the university. Robert and Sandra met and were married while they were students at Tech.

The innovative classroom on the first floor of Brown Hall is named in memory of Mrs. Ferguson.

Much of the landscaping on the Tech campus is a direct result of the Normans’ interest and philanthropy, including more than 950 trees planted with their support. They provided for modern equipment for students seeking career advice, and thus the Norman Career Services office is located in the Doc Bryan Student Services Center.

In addition to Norman Career Services, Mr. and Mrs. Norman have been recognized for their contributions with the naming of the Robert and Sandra Norman Center for the Arts. Norman Hall, as it is commonly known, opened in summer 2006.

Mr. Norman has served the university as chairman of the annual fund drive in 1983 and as a member of the Tech College of Business Advisory Board. He was inducted into the Arkansas Tech Hall of Distinction in 1985, and the Normans received the Presidential Fellow award from Tech in 2011.

Mrs. Norman has served on the Arkansas Tech Alumni Association Board of Directors.

The first floor of Brown Hall is for Mr. and Mrs. Norman in recognition of their lead gift to the Dr. Robert Charles Brown and Jill Lestage Brown Endowment through the Arkansas Tech University Foundation.

Hern, Morgan, Ring to Join Hall of Distinction

Arkansas Tech University will bestow its highest honor upon three alumni of the institution in 2018.

Kevin Hern of Tulsa, Okla., Julie Morgan of Russellville and Jarod Ring of Rogers will be inducted into the ATU Hall of Distinction during spring commencement ceremonies at John E. Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Saturday, May 12.

Hern (photographed, top left) will enter under the Distinguished Alumnus category, while Morgan (photographed, top right) will be inducted under the Distinguished Alumni Service category and Ring (photographed, bottom middle) will join in the Outstanding Young Alumnus category.

“These three individuals have distinguished themselves in their respective fields and brought honor to their alma mater,” said Mike Hutchison, vice president for advancement at ATU. “For more than a half-century, selection to the Hall of Distinction has symbolized the pinnacle of achievement as a member of the Arkansas Tech University community. We look forward to the opportunity to recognize Kevin, Julie and Jarod during spring commencement weekend.”

Hern, a 1986 graduate of Arkansas Tech, is a private investor and managing partner at Firstrike Management Group. He has been involved in the McDonald’s franchise system for 30 years. Hern has the franchise for 10 McDonald’s restaurants in the Tulsa, Okla., area that employ more than 400 individuals.

Currently, he serves as chief financial officer for the more than 3,000 U.S. McDonald’s franchisees. He is also a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District.

Morgan graduated from Arkansas Tech in 1972 and was a member of the university staff from 1998-2015. During her nearly two decades on the Arkansas Tech staff, Morgan served in the roles of assistant to the president (1998-2004 and 2008-present) and director of alumni relations (2004-08).

She oversaw planning for the Arkansas Tech centennial celebration and the inauguration of Dr. Robin E. Bowen as the 12th president of the institution. Under her leadership as alumni director, Arkansas Tech revamped the criteria, categories, selection process and induction process for its Hall of Distinction. In addition, Arkansas Tech developed its license plate program through the State of Arkansas during Morgan’s tenure as alumni director.

Ring earned his degree from Arkansas Tech in 2007 and began his career with American Red Cross before serving two years in Rwanda as a member of the U.S. Peace Corps alongside his wife, Sarah.

After working with a food-packing organization for people in need around the world, Ring and friend Bret Raymond began exploring ways to bring the model to Arkansas. The Pack Shack was born. Headquartered in Rogers, The Pack Shack works to provide nutritious, easy to prepare meals to the food insecure in the Natural State. Two The Pack Shack events at Arkansas Tech have provided more than 77,000 meals to neighbors in need in the Arkansas River Valley.

Established in 1964, the Arkansas Tech Hall of Distinction recognizes the accomplishments of Arkansas Tech alumni and friends in five categories: Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna, Distinguished Alumni Service, Outstanding Young Alumnus/Alumna, Distinction in Intercollegiate Athletics and Distinguished Service (non-alumnus).

Nominations for the Arkansas Tech Hall of Distinction may be made by any graduate of Arkansas Tech, any current or former member of the faculty or administration of Tech, any currently enrolled full-time student at Tech or any member of the Hall of Distinction. Nominations may not be made by a family member of the nominee. The nomination deadline is Oct. 1 of each year.

No incumbent member of the Arkansas Tech Board of Trustees, faculty, staff or administration is eligible for nomination for any category of the Hall of Distinction.

For more information about nominating an individual for the Arkansas Tech Hall of Distinction, visit, call (479) 968-0242 or send e-mail to