Ring, Morgan, Hern Receive Tech’s Top Honor

Kevin Hern of Tulsa, Okla., Julie Nebben Morgan of Russellville and Jarod Wayne Ring of Rogers were inducted into the Arkansas Tech University Hall of Distinction during spring commencement ceremonies at John E. Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Saturday, May 12.

Hern (photographed, right) entered under the Distinguished Alumnus category, while Morgan (photographed, middle) was inducted under the Distinguished Alumni Service category and Ring (photographed, left) joined in the Outstanding Young Alumnus category.

The trio of inductees were the guests of honor at a luncheon at Chambers Cafeteria West Dining Room following the 10 a.m. commencement ceremony.

Kevin Hern

A 1986 graduate of Arkansas Tech University, Kevin Hern began his career working in the aerospace industry for Rockwell, writing computer programs to automate tasks for businesses and selling real estate. He even tried his hand at hog farming before investing his life’s savings in the purchase of two McDonald’s locations in Muskogee, Okla., in 1999.

Today, he has the franchise for 10 McDonald’s restaurants in the Tulsa, Okla., area that employ more than 400 individuals. Hern has served in various regional, divisional, and national leadership positions with the McDonald’s franchise leadership team. Most recently, he served five years as the as the chief financial officer for the 3,500 U.S. franchisees.

He resigned as CFO in December 2016 to enter into politics. He is currently a candidate for U.S. Congress in Oklahoma’s 1st District.

“Tech gave me an opportunity to access a gateway to the future,” said Hern. “McDonald’s has given me a great education in the real world in terms of experience in running businesses. My wife, Tammy, and I have had tremendous experiences in helping other folks start businesses and in starting businesses of our own. I tell my kids all the time…go find a spot that gets you where you need to go. Arkansas Tech was that opportunity for me.”

Chairman of the finance committee for the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority from 2011-15, Hern has served as a state board member for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma and Future Farmers of America of Oklahoma. He has also served as finance committee chair for the Oklahoma Republican Party.

Julie Nebben Morgan

Julie Nebben Morgan graduated from Arkansas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in music education in 1972 and a master’s degree in educational media in 1983. Her K-12 education career from 1973-97 included 11 years as a music teacher in the public schools at Killeen, Texas, Little Rock and Russellville and 13 years as a library media specialist at Russellville High School.

Morgan went on to a second career as a member of the ATU staff from 1998-2015, during which time she served in the roles of assistant to the president (1998-2004 and 2008-15) 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.

“I am blindly passionate about Arkansas Tech,” said Morgan. “I never had a thought about working at my alma mater. That was out of the blue when Dr. (Robert C.) Brown approached me. If someone had asked me how long I thought I might work at Tech, I wouldn’t have had an idea, but I never would have thought it would have been 16-and-a-half years. It was a wonderful time to be an alumna and work in the positions I had the opportunity to serve in. There were some tense times, but we had fun. I want to thank Dr. Brown and Dr. Bowen for giving me those opportunities. Arkansas Tech gave me much more than I can ever give in return. I hope, as long as I am able, I will continue to give back to the university.”

Morgan’s professional affiliations have included the American Choral Directors Association, the Arkansas Choral Directors Association, the Arkansas Association of Instructional Media, the Arkansas Association of School Library Media Educators and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. She has given volunteer service to Junior Auxiliary of Russellville, the Russellville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Russellville Downtown Master Plan Committee, Philanthropic Education Organization, the River Valley Symphony Foundation and the Center for the Arts in Russellville.

Jarod Wayne Ring

Jarod Wayne Ring earned his bachelor’s degree in emergency management from Arkansas Tech in 2007. He 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, Ring and Raymond developed The Pack Shack as a means to provide nutritious, easy to prepare meals to the food insecure in the Natural State and beyond.

Ring brought two The Pack Shack events to Arkansas Tech during his time with the organization. Combined, those events provided more than 77,000 meals to neighbors in need in the Arkansas River Valley. In all, as of April 2018, The Pack Shack has engaged more than 108,000 volunteers in 34 states. Together, they have packed approximately 20 million meals to assist the food insecure.

“I am extremely humbled and honored to be standing here and to be inducted as part of this group,” said Ring. “Eleven years ago when I walked across that stage at graduation, I had no idea what life had in store. I just knew I had a passion to help and serve people, and to be a part of things that matter. I wanted to live a life of adventure and excitement…to travel the world, see other places and learn their cultures. It has been my experience that if you follow your dreams, stay true to things that God has given you and keep an open mind, life can be really interesting and exciting. You’ll be surprised where you can end up. I just try to accept life with open arms and see what doors open.”

Today, Ring serves as missions and outreach pastor at Keypoint Church in northwest Arkansas.

About the ATU Hall of Distinction

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 www.techties.atu.edu, call (479) 968-0242 or send e-mail to alumni@atu.edu.

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