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Burnett to Chair ATU Board of Trustees for 2021

Eric BurnettImage of Eric Burnett

Eric Burnett of Fort Smith was elected by his fellow trustees to serve as chairman of the Arkansas Tech University Board of Trustees for the 2021 calendar year during a virtual meeting on Thursday, Jan. 21.

Burnett was appointed to the board by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in January 2017. He is in his second five-year term of service as a trustee. He was previously a member of the ATU Board of Trustees from 2011-16 and was chairman of the board in 2015.

Head boys’ basketball coach at Fort Smith Northside High School since 2010, Burnett guided the Grizzlies to state championships in 2017 and 2019. He was named to his current position after spending the previous five seasons as the head boys' basketball coach at Springdale Har-Ber High School.

Burnett also has four years of experience as the head boys’ basketball coach at Fort Smith Southside High School.

A 1994 graduate of Arkansas Tech, Burnett earned four letters as a member of the Wonder Boys basketball team.

Burnett is Arkansas Tech’s all-time leader in 3-point field goals made (354). He also ranks among the Wonder Boys’ career leaders in scoring (6th, 1,981 points), rebounding (5th, 775), free throws made (7th, 397), assists (10th, 343), steals (T-8th, 150) and field goals made (10th, 615).

He was named an NAIA All-American in 1993 and he was a two-time All-Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference selection. The Wonder Boys won 83 games and the 1993 AIC title during Burnett’s career.

Burnett and his wife, Michelle, have two daughters.

Other Arkansas Tech Board of Trustees officers for 2021 are Stephanie Duffield of Russellville, who will serve as vice chairman; and Jim Smith of Fayetteville, who will serve as secretary. They will be joined on the board by Len Cotton of Dardanelle.

The fifth member of the ATU Board of Trustees for 2021 will be appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. That appointee will succeed Tom Kennedy of Little Rock, whose five-year term on the board expired Jan. 14.

In other business on Thursday, the ATU Board of Trustees approved:

*a transfer of $121,268.70 from Lake Point Conference Center reserve funds to the roof reserve account;

*an annual transfer, this year in the amount of $230,000, from agency resources into the educational and general fund and the residence life fund for appropriate use in the purchase of furniture or equipment by the ATU Department of Campus Life, the ATU Department of International Student Services and the ATU Department of Residence Life;

*consistent with Internal Revenue Service regulations, placement of up to the $2.1 million from the proceeds of the Lake Point Conference Center sale in escrow so those funds may be used to pay down a 2014 bond issue related to Lake Point at a later date;

*updates to the ATU Faculty Handbook as proposed by the ATU Faculty Senate, including a membership update to the committee on adjunct support to allow for broader representation across the colleges, a membership and function update to the institutional review board to provide flexibility for the institution to respond to changing federal regulations and a change to the constitution of the ATU Faculty Senate allowing for election of the ATU Faculty Senate chair by the faculty at large;

*a request by the ATU College of Education and the ATU Department of Curriculum and Instruction to deliver the Master of Education degree in instructional technology 100 percent online in addition to in-person delivery;

*an annual request by the ATU Upward Bound programs to participate in the Arkansas Department of Human Services summer food service program;

*a transfer of up to $300,000 from residence life auxiliary to fund improvements to Tucker Residence Hall, M Street Residence Hall, Paine Residence Hall, Nutt Residence Hall, Hughes Residence Hall, Wilson Residence Hall and associated outdoor areas during summer 2021;

*naming an academic space located near the ATU Greenhouses the Dr. Jim Collins Agriculture Classroom in recognition of Collins' recent commitment of $100,000 to the ATU Foundation in support of a technology and maintenance endowment for that space;

*and deletion of the Certificate of Proficiency in medical transcription at ATU-Ozark Campus due to low program viability and low industry need.

In personnel matters, trustees approved the appointment of Laury Fiorello as ATU budget and financial reporting director and chief fiscal officer for ATU-Ozark Campus effective January 1, 2021.

Fiorello has served as ATU-Ozark chief fiscal officer since 2016. She added the duties of ATU budget and financial reporting director on an interim basis Aug. 1, 2020. Thursday's action removed the interim tag from her additional responsibilities.

Thomas Strahan, who previously served as coordinator of fraternity and sorority life in the ATU Department of Campus Life, was approved by the board to transition to the coordinator of alumni engagement position in the ATU Office of Alumni Relations effective Jan. 4, 2021.

Trustees approved the hiring of Robin Ghosh as visiting instructor for computer and information science for the spring 2021 semester, Rachel Lee as coordinator of disability services effective Jan. 4, 2021, and Ashley Shrives as nurse practitioner in the ATU Health and Wellness Center effective Jan. 11, 2021.

The board accepted resignations from Angela S. Bowen Cox, counselor for career pathways at ATU-Ozark, effective Jan. 4, 2021; Taylor Ragland, executive assistant to the vice president for student affairs, effective Jan. 15, 2021; and Karissa Webb, residence life administrative assistant III, effective Jan. 8, 2021.