The Arkansas Tech University Board of Trustees voted on Thursday, Aug. 19, to employ WER Architects/Planners as the architectural firm for planned renovations to McEver Hall.
WER is a full-service architecture and interior design firm with offices in Little Rock and northwest Arkansas.
During its May 2021 meeting, the ATU Board of Trustees committed $1.75 million to the McEver Hall renovation project. The facility houses classrooms, laboratories and offices utilized by the ATU College of Natural and Health Sciences.
McEver Hall, which opened in 1963, is named for Truman McEver. He served on the chemistry faculty at Arkansas Tech from 1930-73.
Funding for the McEver Hall renovations will come from ATU’s educational and general fund.
In other business on Thursday, the ATU Board of Trustees approved:
*an expenditure of $100,000 in plant funds to cover the costs of engineer planning for a previously approved heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrade project in various ATU facilities;
*purchase of the property at 826 N. El Paso Ave. in Russellville for $66,400;
*applying resources from the education and general fund balance to pay for an increase in property insurance ($48,275), a professional services contract with Sightline to provide predictive analytics support and financial optimization ($65,000), lease of Duo Security dual authentication software ($225,000), lease of the Cadence Software texting platform ($193,800), lease of the Harmony Software chat bot platform ($226,480) and the establishment of a need-based scholarship program ($1 million);
*updates to the faculty handbook and student handbook for the ATU campus in Russellville;
*updates to the student handbook for ATU-Ozark Campus;
*2021-22 parking and traffic regulations for ATU-Ozark Campus;
*a policy pertaining to flexible work arrangements and remote work for administrative, classified and non-classified ATU staff and, as appropriate, extra help and hourly employees;
*revisions to the pre-employment screening process for prospective ATU employees;
*amendments to the ATU Staff Senate constitution;
*authorization of appropriate personnel to conduct all necessary and proper banking transactions on behalf of the university during the 2021-22 fiscal year;
*selection of trustee Stephanie Duffield of Russellville to serve as the board’s representative on an upcoming strategic planning process for the university;
*selection of AGB Consulting to serve as an objective facilitator to assure strong communication between the ATU executive council and the university’s faculty and staff;
*and the establishment of Sept. 23, 2021, Oct. 21, 2021, Dec. 7, 2021, Jan. 20, 2022, March 17, 2022, June 16, 2022, and Aug. 18, 2022, as the dates for upcoming meetings of the ATU Board of Trustees.
In personnel matters, the ATU Board of Trustees approved a change in assignment requested by Thomas Pennington.
Pennington has served as legal counsel at Arkansas Tech since 1996 while simultaneously teaching classes. As of Dec. 31, 2021, he will step down from his administrative responsibilities and assume a full-time teaching role in his position as professor of legal studies in the ATU College of Business.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as Arkansas Tech University’s general counsel for the past 25 years,” wrote Pennington in a letter requesting his change in assignment. “This has been a professionally rewarding position that has enabled me to participate in precedent-setting cases for the State of Arkansas in the areas of sovereign immunity as well as indemnification. During this same period of time however, teaching has always remained my true joy and passion. For this upcoming and final stage of my career, it is my hope that for future students, I can be the type of professor that Mr. Bill Lemley, Dr. Hilda Turner, Dr. Kevin Mason, Dr. Joe Moore and Dr. Faye Hawks were for me when I was a student at Arkansas Tech University.”
These changes in assignment also gained board approval:
*Angela Black, from associate librarian to interim director of library, effective Aug 1, 2021; Tracy Cole, from head of the Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics and professor of legal studies to associate dean of the College of Business and professor of legal studies, effective July 1, 2021; Brandi Duvall, from assistant registrar to coordinator of degree audit process, effective Aug. 1, 2021; John Harris, from instructor at Arkansas Tech Career Center (ATCC) to student development specialist and assistant director at ATCC, effective Aug. 1, 2021; Connie Herring, from assistant registrar to coordinator of operations, effective Aug. 1, 2021; Tanda Morrison, from assistant registrar to coordinator for transfer transcript and transfer articulation, effective Aug. 1, 2021; Dr. Asim Shrestha, from assistant professor of computer and information science to assistant professor of business data analytics, effective Aug. 11, 2021; and Dr. Hamed Shojaei, from associate professor of physics to interim head of the Department of Physical Science and associate professor of physics, effective July 1, 2021.
The board confirmed the appointment of Laury Fiorello as vice president for administration and finance effective June 1, 2021.
Trustees granted approval for the employment of the following new, full-time faculty members on the Russellville campus for the 2021-22 academic year:
*Dr. Lydia Brauer, associate professor of curriculum and instruction; Dr. Suparna Chatterjee, assistant professor of biology; Kyler Hecke, visiting assistant professor of fisheries science; Dr. Jonathan Nash, assistant professor of music and assistant director of bands; and Dr. Marshall Swafford, head of the Department of Agriculture and associate professor of agricultural education.
The following individuals were hired as faculty members through ATU-Ozark Campus for the 2021-22 academic year:
*Charlotte Coats, workforce education faculty of banking services; Lance Davis, workforce education faculty of ATCC criminal justice; Landon Growns, workforce education faculty of mathematics; Ereck Ladd, workforce education faculty of ATCC computer information systems; Charles Petty, workforce education faculty of ATCC automotive service technology; Lisa Pittman, workforce education faculty of registered nursing; Rebekah B. Snyder, workforce education faculty and program chair of practical nursing; and Brianna Wood-Watkins, workforce education faculty of practical nursing.
The board approved hiring the following staff members:
*Shirley Bonner, assessment coordinator for ATU-Ozark Campus, effective July 26, 2021; Agnes Cruz, director of teacher education student services, for the 2021-22 fiscal year; and Tracy Spence, business manager, effective Aug. 23, 2021.
The board accepted resignations from the following individuals:
*Sara Bailey, grant coordinator, effective June 11, 2021; Timothy Diffey, academic advisor, effective June 4, 2021; Brent Etzel, director of library, effective July 30, 2021; Ernest Hendley, graduate student support services coordinator, effective Aug. 18, 2021; Courtney Kline, academic advisor, effective May 28, 2021; Jennifer Lewter, senior instructor of biology, effective July 15, 2021; Sarah Phillips, academic advisor, effective Aug. 2, 2021; Justin Root, counselor, effective July 28, 2021; Dr. Selena Sasser, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, effective June 24, 2021; Dr. Jordan Thibodeaux, assistant professor of psychology, effective Aug. 1, 2021; Dr. Jack Tucci, professor of management and William M. Lemley endowed chair, effective July 7, 2021; and Dr. Robert Vork, assistant professor of English, effective Aug. 6, 2021.