ATU Recognizes Burnett for Service as Trustee

ATU Board of Trustees Group Photo January 2022
Photographed (from left-to-right): Dr. Robin E. Bowen, Arkansas Tech University president; Bill Clary of Conway, ATU trustee; Stephanie Duffield of Russellville, 2022 chairman of the ATU Board of Trustees; Eric Burnett of Fort Smith, member of the ATU Board of Trustees from 2011-16 and 2017-22; and Len Cotton of Dardanelle, 2022 secretary of the ATU Board of Trustees.

Outgoing Arkansas Tech University Board of Trustees Chairman Eric Burnett of Fort Smith was honored for a decade of service to his alma mater during a meeting of trustees on Thursday, Jan. 20.

Burnett completed a five-year term on the ATU Board of Trustees on Jan. 14, 2022. He was chairman of the board during the 2021 calendar year.

It was Burnett’s second term on the board. He also served from 2011-2016 and was chairman of the ATU Board of Trustees in 2015.

Burnett was a member of the board that elected Dr. Robin E. Bowen as the 12th president of Arkansas Tech in 2014 and he presided over Bowen’s inauguration ceremony in 2015.

During his second term on the board, he helped Arkansas Tech develop and enact a campus master plan, achieve significant gains in its graduation rate, reaffirm its accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission and gain recognition from U.S. News and World Report as the No. 1 regional, public university in Arkansas.

Burnett’s Arkansas Tech story began in 1989 when Marty Barnes recruited him to play basketball for the Wonder Boys. One of 13 children raised by a single mother, Burnett successfully made the transition from high school to college with help from ATU academic advisors such as Kristine Melton Brooks.

His achievements in the classroom were matched by his accomplishments on the basketball floor, where he earned All-America honors while helping Arkansas Tech win 83 games over four years and the 1993 Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference championship.

Burnett is ATU’s all-time leader in 3-point field goals made and he ranks top 10 in Wonder Boys’ history in career scoring, field goals made, free throws made, rebounds, assists and steals.

Following his graduation from Arkansas Tech, Burnett embarked upon a coaching career that has included service as head boys’ basketball coach at Fort Smith Southside High School, Springdale Har-Ber High School and currently at his alma mater, Fort Smith Northside High School, where he has led the Grizzlies to two state championships.

“As those of us who have been fortunate enough to know him will tell you, Eric’s heart is not as much in wins and losses as it is in showing young people the potential that exists within them,” said ATU Board of Trustees member Stephanie Duffield of Russellville, who is succeeding Burnett as chairman. “By authentically sharing his life story, Eric proves to each of us that anything is possible when we blend hard work and determination with kindness and compassion.”