Beard, Ritchie, White Chosen for ATU Hall of Distinction

ATU 2021 Hall of Distinction Inductees
Photographed (from left-to-right): Travis Beard, Howard Ritchie and Adena Strickland White.

Travis Beard of Russellville, Howard Ritchie of Russellville and Adena Strickland White of Conway will be inducted into the Arkansas Tech University Hall of Distinction in 2021.

Beard will be inducted under the Distinguished Alumnus category, Ritchie will be inducted under the Distinguished Alumni Service category and White will be inducted under the Distinguished Young Alumna category.

Induction into the ATU Hall of Distinction is the highest honor Arkansas Tech may bestow upon an individual.

The induction of Beard, Ritchie and White into the ATU Hall of Distinction will be recognized on Friday, April 16, as part of the ATU Foundations and Futures virtual scholarship event.

Arkansas Tech will also recognize 2020 ATU Hall of Distinction inductees John Ed Chambers III of Danville, Benny Harris of Russellville and Dr. Rose Clarke Nanyonga of Kampala, Uganda, during the virtual event on April 16.

Call (479) 968-0400 for more information about accessing the Foundations and Futures presentation.

Travis Beard

A 1970 graduate of Arkansas Tech, Beard began his teaching career in the North Little Rock School District in 1971. When he was hired as director of the sophomore band at Russellville High School in 1974, it was the beginning of a 35-year tenure in the Russellville School District.

Beard went on to serve as symphonic band director at Russellville High School, coordinator of music for the Russellville School District and band director at Russellville Middle School before retiring in 2009. Along the way, he added a Master of Education degree from Arkansas Tech in 1977.

The Russellville High School marching band appeared in inaugural parades for President Jimmy Carter and President Bill Clinton as well as the Cotton Bowl Parade during Beard’s career.

He served his profession as a board member and president for the Arkansas School Band and Orchestra Association and as president of the Arkansas Bandmasters Association.

Beard remained connected with his alma mater as an Arkansas Tech band camps faculty member. He first fulfilled that role during his days as an undergraduate student and continued to do so until his retirement.

The Arkansas Bandmasters Association bestowed its bandmaster of the year award upon Beard in 1989 and the National Federation Interscholastic Music Association presented him with its 2002 Arkansas outstanding music educator award.

In 2004, Beard earned the Band World Legion of Honor award from the John Philip Sousa Hall of Honor Foundation. He was a 2012 inductee into the hall of fame for the Omicron chapter of Phi Beta Mu, the international bandmasters fraternity.

Howard Ritchie

Ritchie graduated from Arkansas Tech in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in music.

His volunteer service on behalf of his alma mater has included two terms on the Arkansas Tech Alumni Association Board of Directors, and he served as president of that board in 2010.

In addition, Ritchie has served as chairman and as a member of the ATU Alumni Association Scholarship committee, on the planning committees for several Arkansas Tech band reunions, on the committee that created the Robert Bright Scholarship endowment through the ATU Foundation and as a judge for ATU Homecoming student projects and parade floats.

Ritchie has given of his time at such ATU events as Time Out for Tech, welcome tents on the first day of class and the ATU Alumni Association Breakfast During Finals outreach at the conclusion of multiple semesters.

He is also a member of the Arkansas Tech Green and Gold booster club for Wonder Boys and Golden Suns athletics and has been a table sponsor for the Arkansas Tech scholarship dinner.

In his professional career, Ritchie worked as a band director in the schools at Malvern (1970-74) and Russellville (1974-87) before moving into administration. He was a principal in the Russellville School District at Oakland Heights Elementary (1987-96) and Upper Elementary Fifth Grade (1996-2005).

Adena Strickland White

White completed Bachelor of Arts degrees in journalism with an emphasis in public relations and speech communication from Arkansas Tech in 2007.

She is founder and chief storyteller for Blackbelt Media LLC. Her company produces Blackbelt Voices, a podcast that celebrates Black Southern culture and has been named by O, The Oprah Magazine, as one of America’s 15 best educational podcasts.

White worked as director of communications for the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce from 2011-21 and will continue to contribute to the chamber’s efforts on a part-time basis as editor of Conway Publications.

She holds the Accredited Public Relations professional certification and is past president of the Arkansas chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

A former member of the ATU Alumni Association Board of Directors, White has also rendered volunteer service on behalf of the Children’s Advocacy Alliance.

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