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 www.atu.edu/education 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.

Reasnor Wins Academic All-America of 2017

Arkansas Tech University’s Ty Reasnor has been recognized as the top student-athlete in NCAA Division II football for 2017.

The senior quarterback from Cashion, Okla., was named 2017 Academic All-America of the Year for Division II as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) on Tuesday, Dec. 12.

Reasnor is majoring in mechanical engineering and has a 4.0 grade point average.

His play during his senior season helped the Wonder Boys compile an 8-4 overall record, finish tied for second in the Great American Conference standings and earn a berth in the 2017 Agent Barry Live United Bowl under the direction of head coach Raymond Monica.

Reasnor completed 203-of-326 pass attempts for 2,483 yards with 21 touchdown passes and five interceptions this season. His 62.3 percent completion rate is the highest single-season completion percentage in ATU football history. Reasnor’s accuracy in 2017 was further underscored by the fact that he went 213 consecutive pass attempts without an interception at one point during the season.

His 2017 figures also placed him among Tech’s all-time, single-season leaders in touchdown passes (4th) passing yardage (5th).

Reasnor becomes the sixth student-athlete in GAC history to receive Academic All-America of the Year, joining Southern Nazarene’s Amy Madden (2013-softball), Henderson State’s Kevin Rodgers (2014-football), Ouachita Baptist’s Haley Hatcher (2015-soccer), Harding’s Ewa Zaborowska (2015-track) and Southern Arkansas’ Maddie Dow (softball).

He is one of eight 2017 Academic All-America Division II football first team members to hold a 4.0 GPA. The 26 members of the first team have a cumulative GPA of 3.89.

The Division II Academic All-America program is financially supported by the NCAA Division II national governance structure to assist CoSIDA with handling the awards fulfillment aspects for the 2017-18 Division II Academic All-America teams program.

Mrs. Shirley: A Final Exams Tradition at ATU

It’s the fourth and final morning of final examinations for the fall 2017 semester at Arkansas Tech University. Faculty and students are pushing to reach the finish line in anticipation of the holiday break, a respite that is finally within reach.

These are the moments when we all need someone to provide us with a little extra support.

At ATU, that someone is Shirley Drewry Dodd.

She is positioned in her familiar spot in the Witherspoon Hall lobby, an echo-filled, three-story space reserved for study, fellowship and the occasional nap among Arkansas Tech students pursuing knowledge in the arts and humanities. She says Witherspoon Hall is “kind of like home” because of the admiration she had for Gene Witherspoon, director of bands at Tech from 1950-79, during her time as a student.

Dodd is there for each day of final exams, spring and fall semesters, passing out free breakfast provided by the ATU Alumni Association and filling that cavernous space with just the right mix of encouragement and nourishment.

She is not alone in her volunteerism. Dozens of her fellow Arkansas Tech alumni and friends give of their time at the close of each semester in academic buildings all across campus. Muffins, fruit, cider and coffee constitute the menu for fall exams.

Most volunteers sit or stand at their tables and exchange pleasantries with passers by. Not Mrs. Shirley, who has been at it since 2008. She actively recruits students, faculty and anyone else in the vicinity to her post with a fervor that demonstrates her affection for Tech. Everyone gets breakfast until all the breakfast is gone.

It’s a trait that she ties back to her days as a cheerleader at Arkansas Tech in the 1950s.

“They are really, really close,” said Dodd when asked to compare cheer leading to alumni volunteerism. “They’re both about promoting Tech.”

A product of Paris High School, Dodd originally made her way to Arkansas Tech because of her high school counselor, Mr. Challis. He saw potential in young Shirley and connected her with a job in the Tech dining hall so she could pay her way through school. She worked for Eunice Brownlee Ferguson, lived in Caraway Hall under the watchful eyes of dorm mother Margaret Young and studied elementary education in Lena Rexinger’s classes.

Dodd graduated from Arkansas Tech in 1959. After 14 years as a classroom teacher in Little Rock and Russellville and 17 years as a guidance counselor at Russellville High School, Dodd has remained involved in education by serving her alma mater.

She was a member of the Arkansas Tech Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2008-10 before becoming president-elect of the organization in 2011 and president in 2012. She was a member of the committee that planned the Arkansas Tech centennial celebration and helps organize reunions and philanthropic efforts by the “Caraway Hall Girls,” a group of alumnae who lived together on the Caraway Hall third floor in the late 1950s.

Dodd’s dedication to ATU was recognized in 2015 when she was inducted into the ATU Hall of Distinction under the Distinguished Alumni Service category.

“I’m here because of Tech,” said Dodd. “I wouldn’t have met my husband, David, without Tech. Our two kids wouldn’t have had educations here. I never expected to come to Tech. My mother was divorced with three kids to take care of. This is a kind of payback for all that Tech has done for me.”

Additional ATU Alumni Association breakfast during finals volunteers for the fall 2017 semester included Sabrina Billey, Angela Bonds, Linda Boyd, Twylla Brock, Lauren Bryan, Regina Burris, Hannah Bush, Hailey Canada, Cindy Chaffin, Sue Chiolino, Jim Collins, Ann Davis, Billy Gene Davis, Shawna Davis, Jordan Denton, Peggy Ferris, Tracy Hale, Jill Hendricks, Linda Higgins, Randy Horton, Carolyn Ishee, Kara Johnson, Camille Jordan, Annie McNeely, Johnette Moody, Julie Paladino, Sherry Polsgrove, Howard Ritchie, Dot Stratton, Gary Stratton, Mary Beth Sanders, Betty Snellings, David Snellings, Bethany Swindell, Heather Taylor, Carla Terry, Liz Underwood, Chrissy Vang and Christy Villanueva.

Photographed (from left): Kelly Davis, director of alumni relations at ATU, and Arkansas Tech alumnae Angela Bonds, Shirley Dodd and Sue Chiolino. 

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 www.atu.edu/registrar/graduation.php.