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ATU Names 2019 Hall of Distinction Honorees

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Four Arkansas Tech University alumni will receive their alma mater’s highest honor in 2019.

Truman Hill of Russellville, Major Gen. Gary W. Johnston of Fort Belvoir, Va., George Mitchell of Denton, Texas, and Lt. Col. William J. Sidebottom of Springfield, Va., will be inducted into the ATU Hall of Distinction during spring commencement ceremonies at John E. Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Saturday, May 11.

Hill will be inducted under the Distinguished Alumni Service category, while Johnston, Mitchell and Sidebottom will enter the Hall of Distinction under the Distinguished Alumnus category.

“For more than 50 years, the Arkansas Tech Hall of Distinction has recognized individuals who have distinguished themselves through their career achievements and commitment to our university,” said Dr. Robin E. Bowen, ATU president. “The four individuals selected for induction in 2019 are exemplars of characteristics that we seek to instill in our students. We look forward to honoring them at May commencement.”

Truman Hill

Hill earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from Arkansas Tech in 1970. He went on to a 35-year career with Firestone and served on the ATU Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2012-14. The ATU alumni board elected Hill as its president for 2015.

In addition to his work with the ATU Alumni Association, Hill has also rendered volunteer service to enhance Arkansas Tech’s representation in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame (ASHOF). He led the nomination process and chaired the committee that planned the ASHOF induction ceremony for the 1992 and 1993 NAIA national championship women’s basketball teams from Arkansas Tech.

Major Gen. Gary W. Johnston

Johnston received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from ATU in 1987. He completed the U.S. Army ROTC program at ATU and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army.

In the years since, Johnston has served as Director of Intelligence, J-2, U.S. Special Operations Command; Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, XVIII Airborne Corps; and Deputy J-2, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command (ISAF-IJC), Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan. His joint and combined assignments include Commander, Task Force 165 in support of Combined/Joint Task Force 76 in Bagram, Afghanistan; Commander, Combined Task Force Viper, Spin Boldak, Afghanistan; Deputy Director of Operations, Joint Intelligence Center Central, U.S. Central Command; Chief, WMD Analysis Branch, Joint Intelligence Center Central; and Executive Officer, Directorate of Operations, Joint Intelligence Center Pacific. He most recently served as Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence, Resolute Support Mission, North Atlantic Treaty Organization/Director, J-2, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, Operation Freedom's Sentinel, from April 2017 until April 2018.

As of June 2018, Johnston is the commander for the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM). He has oversight of 17,500 soldiers, Army civilians and contractors working on behalf of the United States at 180 locations in 45 countries.

George Mitchell

Mitchell earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Arkansas Tech in 1970. He completed the ROTC program at Tech, won the Distinguished Military Graduate award and earned a commission as an officer in the U.S. Army.

After serving in the military and as an accountant for Arthur Andersen and Company in Oklahoma City and Arkoma Production Company in Fort Smith, Mitchell became chief financial officer for Jerry Jones’ business empire in 1999. He maintained those responsibilities for 12 years.

Today, Mitchell serves as senior vice president of finance for the Dallas Cowboys football club and Blue Star Investments Inc. Mitchell has helped the organization plan and finance, among other projects, the construction of AT&T Stadium in Arlington (estimated cost: $1.15 billion) and The Star, a 91-acre facility in Frisco that hosts the world headquarters for the Dallas Cowboys (estimated cost: $1.5 billion). Additional real estate developments in north Texas as well as accounting and reporting for oil and gas holdings are also part of the portfolio that Mitchell oversees.

Lt. Col. William J. Sidebottom

Sidebottom completed a Bachelor of Science degree in business from Arkansas Tech in 1967.

Recipient of the Distinguished Military Graduate award, Sidebottom served two combat tours in Vietnam. He earned the Silver Star for evacuating six fellow soldiers, four of whom were wounded, to safety while under enemy fire near the Cambodian border on Feb. 17, 1969. He also received four Purple Heart medals, a Bronze Star, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and 14 air medals for his service in southeast Asia.

Sidebottom retired from active duty in 1990 and later assisted the U.S. Army in transforming its logistics and financial programs while working at SAP. He was inducted into the Arkansas Military Veterans Hall of Fame in 2015 and the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame in 2017.

Hall of Distinction Background

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

Photographed: Truman Hill (top left); Major Gen. Gary W. Johnston (top right); George Mitchell (bottom left); and Lt. Col. William J. Sidebottom (bottom right).