Donation Benefits New Program at Tech

A new degree program at Arkansas Tech University has received a gift that will enable its students to work with professional-grade equipment in preparation for their careers.

Dr. Mildred Diane Gleason, associate professor of history at Arkansas Tech, donated $100,000 to the Arkansas Tech Foundation in support of the institution’s Bachelor of Arts degree in cultural and geospatial studies.

“This new major will offer Tech students great opportunities to extend their learning and maximize employment options,” said Gleason. “The newly acquired equipment will enhance the program by fostering study with the best, most technically sophisticated analytical mapping apparatus currently available. Giving our students every opportunity to develop their abilities, enhance their futures and better assist the communities they serve is what Tech is about.”

Arkansas Tech began offering course work toward the cultural and geospatial studies degree during the fall 2015 semester.

In the program proposal summary brought forth by the Arkansas Tech College of Arts and Humanities, it was explained that the cultural and geospatial studies degree will provide graduates with marketable skills in geographic information systems (GIS) while also providing methods of identifying, analyzing and solving problems utilized by geographers and anthropologists.

The summary also states that the degree will help students develop the skills needed for careers in economic development, city and regional planning, cultural resource management, natural resource management, transportation networking, food distribution, real estate, education, heritage preservation and a range of other fields.

Gleason’s donation has already made it possible for the Arkansas Tech College of Arts and Humanities to purchase two Trimble Geo 7x high-accuracy global navigation satellite system (GNSS) handheld global positioning system (GPS) units and a Hewlett-Packard Designjet 44-inch high-resolution printer/scanner.

The GPS units will allow students to gain hands-on experience in mobile data collection and resource management. The wide-format printer/scanner will provide students with an opportunity to organize and present the types of spatial data that are used on a daily basis by governmental agencies and private business.

The gift from Gleason will also make it possible for the college to invest in supplemental software for qualitative and quantitative analysis.

Two members of the geography faculty at Arkansas Tech — Dr. Joseph Swain and Dr. Patrick Hagge — were involved in the selection of the new equipment. Dr. Jeff Woods, dean of the Arkansas Tech College of Arts and Humanities, provided leadership in securing the proper resources to install and maintain the equipment.

As a result of the new resources, new courses in planning application GIS, cultural resources management and urban geography will be available to Tech students during the spring 2016 semester.

In addition, the equipment will enhance collaboration between Arkansas Tech students and regional municipalities.

For more information about the Arkansas Tech Bachelor of Arts degree in cultural and geospatial studies, contact the Arkansas Tech Department of History and Political Science at (479) 968-0265.

Photographed (from left): Dr. Patrick Hagge, Dr. Joseph Swain, Dr. Diane Gleason and Dr. Jeff Woods, all of whom are members of the Arkansas Tech faculty. Photo courtesy of Joshua Mashon.