Initiatives Help COE Grads Gain Employment

The Arkansas Tech University College of Education is taking proactive steps to assist its students in finding employment after graduation.

Through the ATU College of Education Office of Licensure and Support Services, students have access to a Morpho fingerprint system that connects to the Arkansas State Police and meets one of the background check requirements for all prospective teachers. ATU was the first institution in the state to offer the service to teacher candidates.

“This allows students to obtain their fingerprints on campus without the need to travel to Little Rock or one of the educational service cooperatives,” said Dr. David Bell, professor of curriculum and instruction and director of the ATU College of Education Office of Licensure and Support Services. “Last spring, this service expanded to include alumni in need of fingerprinting to renew their teaching licenses. Recently, it has expanded again to assist any area teacher or administrator who needs this service. The area teachers have been very appreciative. This has allowed them to complete their fingerprinting without the need to take a half-day leave from school.”

Since the inception of the fingerprinting program in 2015, Arkansas Tech has provided the service to more than 1,200 students, alumni and teachers.

The ATU College of Education has also initiated a program called First Choice that seeks to create an open channel of communication regarding employment opportunities between school districts, ATU faculty and ATU students.

“Students completing their teaching internship have the option to sign a form that allows the ATU College of Education to share their contact information with schools,” said Bell. “This allows administrators in the public schools to contact ATU students directly, schedule interviews and offer contracts.”

First Choice also provides a mechanism for K-12 administrators to contact the ATU College of Education about specific vacancies. Faculty and staff at Arkansas Tech are able to respond with lists of eligible candidates and their contact information.

“The schools have been very receptive to this program, and it has allowed a number of our students to gain employment,” said Bell. “While most of the inquiries are from area schools, there are also requests from throughout the state and from as far away as Kotzebue, Alaska.”

Since the First Choice program began, the ATU College of Education has assisted 107 school districts with filling vacancies.

“Through the First Choice program, ATU’s College of Education has taken yet another leadership role in the state in providing a service to students and our public schools,” said Dr. Mary B. Gunter, dean of the ATU College of Education and Graduate College. “At a time when our public schools are challenged in finding teachers to fill vacant positions, ATU is working to assure that the availability of licensed teachers is known throughout the state and region.”

Visit to learn more about the ATU College of Education.

Photographed: Arkansas Tech University health and physical education student Jakob Clark (right) receives assistance from Teresa Auprey, administrative assistant for the ATU College of Education Office of Educator Licensure and Support Services, in making his fingerprints as part of background check requirements for all teacher candidates.

Faculty, Staff Celebrate the Holidays in Style

Sherry Tinerella and Dr. David Bell captured the top prizes at the 2017 Arkansas Tech University holiday party and ugly sweater contest for the Russellville campus.

Tinerella (photographed, left), assistant librarian in the Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center, was selected first place in the homemade holiday sweater category.

Bell (photographed, right), professor of curriculum and instruction and head of educator licensure and support services in the ATU College of Education, was the winner in the store-bought holiday sweater category.

ATU President Dr. Robin E. Bowen (photographed, center) served as master of ceremonies for the event, which took place on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at Baswell Techionery.

Read about the ugly holiday sweater winners from ATU-Ozark Campus.

Hands-On Experience Defines One Final Exam

A semester filled with learning and real-world experience for 15 hospitality administration students concluded on Monday, Dec. 11, with perhaps the most competitive — and almost certainly the most fun — final examination of fall 2017 at Arkansas Tech University.

Cass Capen-Housley’s food preparation class divided into five three-person teams for a cooking competition in the style of Food Network’s “Chopped” television program.

When it was over, Team Gordon Ramsay — junior Holly Austin of Sherwood, junior Jonathan Williams of Altus and senior Maggie Whitfield of Russellville — was the winner.

A panel of six judges selected the winning team. They were: Shane Henderson, executive chef at Ben E. Keith Foods; Dr. Patricia Buford, associate dean in the ATU College of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Liz Chrisman, director of photography for University Marketing and Communication at Arkansas Tech; Dr. Jim Collins, retired professor of horticulture at ATU; Dr. Johnette Moody, associate professor of computer and information science; and Bethany Swindell, visiting instructor of emergency management at ATU.

“I think all of you did really well,” said Capen-Housley moments before the winning team was announced. “These students really worked hard this semester. We prepared food for 21 events, the most we’ve ever had in one semester. They made my semester go very smoothly.”

The versatility of students in the ATU hospitality administration program was exhibited by the fact that the winning team included two students specializing in tourism and event management (Austin and Williams) and one student specializing in lodging and club management (Whitfield).

“This was the second part of our final,” said Whitfield. “The first part was a paper final, but this was the more fun, second part of it,” said Whitfield. “This semester has provided us with so much hands-on experience in food prep, and it has been excellent.”

Learn more about the hospitality administration program at ATU.

2017 Hospitality Chopped Challenge Final | 12/11/17

Jerry Cares Program Honored by NaBITA

Arkansas Tech University has received a national award recognizing its Jerry Cares program.

Amy Pennington, ATU dean of students (photographed, left) and Will Cooper, ATU assistant dean for student conduct (photographed, right), accepted the 2017 National Behavioral Intervention Team Association (NaBITA) Best Practices/Institutional Impact Award on behalf of the university.

The award was presented by Dr. Brian Van Brunt, NaBITA executive director (photographed, middle).

According to NaBITA, the award is intended to recognize a practice or program that can be modeled by other institutions as a best practice and has been shown to have significant evidence-based impact on the originating institution. These practices or programs can be those that are specific to the functioning of a behavioral intervention team or which serve to educate, provide interventions for or reduce risk among target populations.

Jerry Cares was created by the ATU Division of Student Services in fall 2014 to facilitate a safe and welcoming learning and working environment for members of the university community. Topics covered by Jerry Cares programming throughout the academic year and on the Jerry Cares website include alcohol and drug abuse prevention, sexual violence prevention and hazing prevention.

One aspect of Jerry Cares is the CARE Team, which is a multidisciplinary, proactive campus threat assessment and behavioral intervention team dedicated to improving campus safety through a coordinated, objective approach to prevention, identification, assessment, intervention and management of situations that may pose a threat to the safety and well-being of individuals and the university community.

The program is named for Jerry the Bulldog, campus ambassador at Arkansas Tech.

Learn more about Jerry Cares.

ATU to Celebrate Fall 2017 Graduates

Arkansas Tech University will confer approximately 900 degrees and other academic credentials during fall 2017 commencement ceremonies at John E. Tucker Coliseum in Russellville this weekend.

Students earning degrees from the Arkansas Tech Graduate College will participate in a 7 p.m. ceremony on Friday, Dec. 15.

The 10 a.m. ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 16, will include candidates from the College of Arts and Humanities, the College of Business, the College of Education and the College of eTech.

Individuals graduating from the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the College of Natural and Health Sciences and those earning an associate’s degree will participate in a 2 p.m. ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 16.

For more information about Arkansas Tech commencement, contact the Office of the Registrar at (479) 968-0272 or visit