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Harmon Encourages Tech to Look Forward

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Keynote speaker Major Gen. William  E. Harmon (Ret.) encouraged Arkansas Tech University to embrace "new technology, new traditions and new opportunities" during the keynote address at the Arkansas Tech Centennial Convocation on Friday, April 29, at Tucker Coliseum.

Harmon (photographed), a member of the Arkansas Tech Class of 1960 and a 1990 inductee into the Arkansas Tech Hall of Distinction, served with his wife Suzanne as honorary co-chairs of the Arkansas Tech Centennial.

The celebration of the 100th anniversary of Arkansas Tech began on Jan. 14, 2009, with a special event at the State Capitol in Little Rock and concluded with Friday's convocation.

A veteran of 32 years of distinguished service to the U.S. Army, Harmon spoke on Friday of the Arkansas Tech Centennial as a "temporary pause to remember events, milestones and individuals" that have allowed the institution to grow and develop over the past century.

Much of his address focused on the rapid evolution of technology and how it will change education in the future. He said that he did not know what the future holds, but that it will be "radically different and executed at a faster pace."

Harmon said that education must be "current and applicable." He stated that graduates must leave Arkansas Tech with "advanced skills" and the preparation that will allow them to contribute immediately in their chosen career.

According to Harmon, the increases in technology may change society's current idea of the word campus.

"Proximity will become irrelevant," said Harmon. "There may come a day when the virtual campus outgrows the physical campus. I do not see this as a stretch of the imagination. We can be an international university with worldwide legs."

In closing, Harrmon left the audience of students, faculty members, administrators, staff and alumni with one final challenge.

"Let future generations at Arkansas Tech say of you that you laid the foundation for new heights of excellence and exploration," said Harmon.

Arkansas Tech President Dr. Robert C. Brown opened the convocation by welcoming several special guests of the university, including members of the Chambers and Hull families.

Three generations of the Chambers family have served on the Arkansas Tech Board of Trustees, including current Board Chairman John Ed Chambers III of Danville.

Dr. Joseph W. Hull is the longest-serving president in Arkansas Tech history. He was nominated for the presidency by Judge John Ed Chambers (the current Mr. Chambers' grandfather) in 1932, and Hull maintained that post for 35 years before retiring in 1967. Hull passed away in 1971.

Dr. Thomas A. DeBlack, professor of history at Arkansas Tech, offered a history of the institution. He spoke of the challenges in opening the school due to construction delays in October 1910. He told of the development of the institution under President Hugh Critz (1918-23), President Hull and the unprecedented growth of the past 15 years.

"The first 100 years of Arkansas Tech have seen fires, floods, wars and depression," said DeBlack. "The next 100 years are sure to present more challenges, but Arkansas Tech stands better prepared to face those challenges than ever before."

The convocation included an alumni reponse from Jim Murphy, president of the Arkansas Tech Alumni Association; a faculty response from Dr. Linda Bean, chair of the Arkansas Tech Faculty Senate; and a student response from Travis Flower, president of the Arkansas Tech Student Government Association.

Musical performances highlighted two commissioned pieces that were written especially for the occasion of the Arkansas Tech Centennial.

The Arkansas Tech Symphonic Band performed "Celebration," which was written by Philip Parker. An associate professor of music at Arkansas Tech, Parker directed the performance of the piece on Friday.

The Arkansas Tech Concert Chorale performed "Doors of Daring" under the direction of Gary Morris, director of choirs at Arkansas Tech. The choir piece was composed by Andrea Ramsey, a 2000 Arkansas Tech graduate.

The national anthem at the convocation was led by Dr. Jon F. Clements, associate professor of music. Holly Ruth Gale, assistant professor of music, led the alma mater.

Hal Cooper, director of bands at Arkansas Tech since 1979, directed the Arkansas Tech Symphonic Band in the playing of the processional and the recessional.

Click here to see photos.

Check back with in the days to come for more photos and video from the Arkansas Tech Centennial Convocation.