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Meet the ATU Academic Deans

Meet the ATU Academic Deans

Dr. Jeff Aulgur, Interim Dean for the College of eTech

Jeff Aulgur

What do you love best about Arkansas Tech?

Arkansas Tech University, as reflected in our mission statement, provides opportunity and access for those seeking to attain their educational goals. Across the board, the faculty and staff are dedicated to student persistence and success. This fundamental goal has remained embedded within the 110-year history of the university.

Why do programs in your college stand out? 

In the Department of Professional Studies, students can define their path to meet individual professional and educational goals. Students may begin with the pursuit of a certificate and continue their education through to a bachelor's degree. With the College of eTech, the faculty and the members of our advising team are committed to providing an educational experience designed for the success of adult learners and non-traditional students.

Most of our students are employed full-time and support a family while pursuing their degree at Arkansas Tech University. As a faculty and advising team, we implement a multifaceted approach to enhance student success and retention. Dedicated departmental advisors and full-time faculty employ an intrusive advising approach to provide holistic support to students from enrollment to graduation.

What is the biggest opportunity in your college? 

The key word is in the question: opportunity.  The degrees offered by College of eTech, and housed in the Department of Professional Studies, are designed to meet the educational goals of students who are seeking an opportunity to continue their educational journey. In Arkansas, only one in six adults have earned an undergraduate degree. One of the stated goals of the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services is to "Cultivate a high performing, diverse, and well-trained workforce that is engaged in continuous learning, improving competencies, and talent retention." The Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership (BA-OL) provides students with comprehensive, specialized instruction in the application of leadership concepts highly sought after by employers across a wide variety of settings and career paths. The Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) degree will provide students who have earned an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in any discipline a seamless transition to the online B.A.S. degree. This stackable education sequence enhances an individual's academic qualifications and increases potential career upward mobility.

What are you particularly proud of about the work faculty in your college are doing? 

​First and foremost, the Professional Studies faculty demonstrates an unwavering commitment to student persistence, retention, and success. Over 90% of students in Professional Studies are non-traditional learners, as defined by the National Center for Education Statistics. Fundamentally, Arkansas Tech University is a teaching institution.  The full-time faculty, as well as our adjunct colleagues, demonstrate a willingness to meet students where they are on their educational journey and challenging each student to exceed the learning outcomes in our curriculum. The faculty in the College of eTech not only excel in their academic disciplines, they all seek to continually improve our curriculum and courses to provide an exceptional experience tailored to meet the specific needs of nontraditional learners in a 100% asynchronous virtual environment.

What do you want to share with alumni and friends of ATU about your college? 

We are most proud of the ability of our degree programs, specifically the Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership and the Bachelor of Applied Science, to provide employment and professional upward mobility for our graduates. Since 2016, Professional Studies accounted for nearly 9% of all credentials awarded by the institution. Additionally, students completing the program are successful after attaining their degree completion. According to the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services, the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, and the Arkansas Research Center, 78% of program graduates are employed within the year following degree completion, with 62% employed full-time.

Outside of your work at ATU, what do you do for fun?

I enjoy travel when the opportunity presents itself, both within the United States and internationally. My favorite city is Chicago and I've visited the city at least ten times in recent years. On the other end of the spectrum, I was fortunate to spend a week in the western highlands of Guatemala in 2019. The country and its people are both very beautiful.

Dr. Linda Bean, Dean for the College of Education

Linda Bean

What do you love best about Arkansas Tech? 

There are several things I love about Arkansas Tech but the best thing I love is the people. There are great people on this campus I work with who have the same concern as I do—which is to provide the best for our students. I also love our students. No matter if I am working in the College of Business or the College of Education, I have had very positive experiences with the students. I am still in contact with many of them even after they graduate. I also love the location of the campus in Russellville. We are in a great town that is near great places to visit and explore with beautiful scenery.

Why do programs in your college stand out?

One reason why the programs in our college standout is the degrees in our college lead to excellent job opportunities. Most of our degrees lead to teaching careers from preschool to higher education. We also produce personal trainers and strength and conditioning coaches. Others in graduate programs become counselors, principals, and superintendents. Several of our doctoral alumni have positions in the Arkansas Department of Education and other leadership roles. Our graduates are making an impact on the State of Arkansas and any other state in which they are living.

What is the biggest opportunity in your college?

The biggest opportunity is if a student wants to become a leader in a school, they can obtain their undergraduate degree, masters, specialist, and doctorate all at Arkansas Tech University. They do not have to go anywhere else.

What are you particularly proud of about the work faculty in your college are doing?

The faculty in the COE are connecting with their students in creative ways. This past spring, summer, and fall have caused us to do our work differently. I believe connections to students are even stronger than before. Some faculty have actually called each of their advisees on the phone to make sure their needs are met. Our faculty care about the success of our students and they demonstrate it every day.

What do you want to share with alumni and friends of ATU about your college? 

The College of Education is striving to continue to provide excellence in education for all our students. In 2016 we celebrated 90 years of Excellence in the College of Education. We will be celebrating 100 years in 2026. It is my dream that we will be able to continue to produce the best teachers, counselors, principals, superintendents, physical education, coaches, wellness fitness, personal trainers, student affairs personnel, instructional technology and library media specialists, special education, and literacy and dyslexia specialists in the State of Arkansas.

Outside of your work at ATU, what do you do for fun?

My favorite sport is tennis but until I get new knees, I will continue to enjoy watching tennis instead of playing tennis. I also enjoy bird watching and feeding the large variety of birds in my backyard. I also enjoy going to the movies with friends. Most of all I enjoy being with my family as often as possible and watching them make their own impact on the world.

Dr. Jeffrey Cass, Dean, College of Arts and Humanities

Jeffrey Cass

What do you love best about Arkansas Tech? 

I love the people—students, staff, faculty, administration—all have been welcoming, cooperative, and committed to the development and growth of the institution.

Why do programs in your college stand out?

First, we teach many general education requirements to all the students at ATU. We are committed to ensuring that every graduate has the necessary reading, writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills, which are deeply embedded in the gen ed curricula, notably the fine arts and humanities, U.S. History and Government, and the Social Sciences. These skills lay the intellectual groundwork for students, in whatever major, to succeed in their academic careers and professional lives. Two of our accredited programs, in Art and Music, train performers and educators, who have influence through the State and region. Our Public History program is only one of nine in the country, and our Rehabilitation Science program is, according to Universities.com, one of the top twenty programs in the nation.

What is the biggest opportunity in your college?

The pandemic has, ironically, afforded the College of Arts and Humanities an opportunity to expand its online offerings and reach non-traditional students who typically cannot come to campus. Because faculty had to acquire quickly a large fund of knowledge to pivot to online learning environments, we now have the option of offering more of our degree programs in that space. We’ve got a Certificate in Technical and Professional Communication at ADHE right now, and we’re working on a new degree, a Master’s in Criminal Justice, in order to meet the needs of non-traditional students who are in agencies and companies related to law enforcement, as well as current prison officials and policing professionals. We are also putting our Creative Writing, English, and Political Science baccalaureate degrees online, once we get the final approval. The Future looks bright in A&H.

What are you particularly proud of about the work faculty in your college are doing?

I am particularly proud of the faculty during this pandemic crisis. Throughout its utterly unexpected requirements and permutations, the faculty have demonstrated their creativity in teaching in online environments and providing virtual assistance to students in all disciplines, from English to Music to Political Science. Many educators would have buckled under the strain of maintaining their workloads in such conditions, but the A&H faculty have stepped up.

What do you want to share with alumni and friends of ATU about your college? 

My message to alumni and friends is that you can count on the College of Arts and Humanities to support the cultural mission of the University, to maintain quality of instruction regardless of teaching circumstance and in all modalities, and to encourage their participation in the life of college through their support of the activities of the college. Attend a (virtual) lecture or performance. Consider a trip, with social distancing, to our Art Gallery. Consider returning to the University to do a graduate degree. Support the college through a donation to a scholarship fund. Any and all of these actions are crucial for the future of the college and the cultural health of the institution as a whole.

Outside of your work at ATU, what do you do for fun? 

My favorite outside activity at this time is bowling. I have four bowling balls (they all have their purpose) I love the people at Strikers, our local alley, and Holten Lee and his family who have done so much for our community.

Dr. Judy L. Cezeaux, Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Judy Cezeaux

What do you love best about Arkansas Tech?  

I love the emphasis on student success and our contributions to social mobility.

Why do programs in your college stand out?  

All of our programs require the practical application of the knowledge students learn in the classroom through internships, labs, and projects. Some of our programs (Recreation and Park Administration, Hospitality Administration) are the only 4-year programs in the state accredited by their specialized accrediting bodies. The programs in Emergency Management are nationally recognized.

What is the biggest opportunity in your college?  

Because our programs are so diverse, we have opportunities for collaboration across the departments in our college. No challenge facing the world today can be solved by individuals in a single discipline.

What are you particularly proud of about the work faculty in your college are doing? 

I am proud of the resilience of my faculty. Even before COVID, we faced challenges due to the Williamson fire, for example. Our faculty have persevered through challenging times.

What do you want to share with alumni and friends of ATU about your college?  

We would love to hear how you’re doing and have a chance to show you the great work our faculty and students do every day.

Outside of your work at ATU, what do you do for fun?  

I am a big sports fan (I have been to the World Series and the Kentucky Derby, for example). My goal is to visit every Major League Baseball stadium across the country.

Dr. Russell Jones, Dean of the College of Business

Russ Jones

What do you love best about Arkansas Tech? 

During my initial interview, the students told me how much the Tech faculty cared about their success. That has been reinforced many times in my short tenure here at Tech. My faculty really go the extra mile and want the students to succeed both while at Tech and after they graduate. Also, Tech is focused on providing students with both a quality classroom environment and a high level of experiential learning that goes beyond the textbook and the lecture.

Why do programs in your college stand out?

Everything is a business! No matter whether you are a nursing, agriculture, science, or math major, you will need to know basic business tools. All business students, regardless of major, receive a background in accounting, finance, economics, and marketing. These are necessary tools for anyone to understand the basic foundation of running a business and are useful to a student regardless of the major. Also, our programs are so intertwined that a student could change their major half way through their junior year and possibly lose no credits toward graduation. Finally, a business minor complements any degree from other colleges because of my first statement–Everything is a business!

What is the biggest opportunity in your college?

Two of the "hot" areas we offer in the College of Business are Digital Marketing and Data Analytics. Everything is stored online now and that means the data you need to study to help you make the right decisions is stored there also. You need to be able to access it, analyze it, and summarize it for your business colleagues. Also, most marketing is now conducted through an online medium–Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. As a business person (and remember Everything is a Business), you need to reach out through social media to your customers and also determine what customers are reaching out to you through the digital interface. Being able to determine who is visiting your website, what they are looking for, what website were they visiting prior to landing on yours, and how much time did they spend on different areas of your website are all important when you are conducting your market analysis.

What are you particularly proud of about the work faculty in your college are doing?

They provide top quality service to their students. For example, I had a student this semester who requested to drop a course. One of my faculty received the request as their advisor. Instead of simply clicking the “Approve Drop” button, this faculty member reached out to the student and found that the request to drop was due to a financial reason and the faculty member reached out to others to try and find funding for the student to remain in class. This is going the extra mile for your student and is commonly found in my faculty in the College of Business.

What do you want to share with alumni and friends of ATU about your college? 

While the programs in the College of Business are not easy, they are vital to your future success in your career. They not only prepare you for entry into the business world, but they prepare you to move beyond entry-level positions by providing excellent classroom instruction, experiential learning opportunities, network building, external study possibilities, and focused student projects.

Outside of your work at ATU, what do you do for fun? 

My greatest fun activity is spending time with my family (wife Jessica, 9-year old Riley, and 3-year old Maddie) and two dogs. We love to travel to many of the great parks that surround us here in Arkansas. When I get a "free" day, I enjoy playing golf with my friends.

Dr. Jeff Robertson, Dean & Professor of Astrophysics, College of Natural & Health Sciences

Jeff Robertson

What do you love best about Arkansas Tech? 

Dedicated faculty who care about students. It is truly a place where we measure our success by the successes of our students.

Why do programs in your college stand out?

They lead to immediate career paths and/or success in graduate & professional schools.

What is the biggest opportunity in your college?

ALL of them, if you are willing to put in the work required.

What are you particularly proud of about the work faculty in your college are doing?

The scholarship endeavors of the faculty and the delivery of high quality, relevant experiences for students within their degree programs because of it.  Students can participate in a wide variety of research experiences and internship opportunities from helping find a cure for cancer, to working on space science at a NASA center, to developing better ways to find petroleum, to helping to ensure the viability and survival of a species.

What do you want to share with alumni and friends of ATU about your college? 

We help bring much of the TECH to Arkansas Tech University. There are plenty of opportunities to support programs by investing in students and their success through endowments within the college.

After all, we produce those students that will become doctors, nurses, dentists and pharmacists that will heal us and mend our ills as well as the health management professionals whose coding and tracking lead to better healthcare and patient outcomes.

We produce scientists. If the world would just listen to them up front, there would never be any plots for great disaster movies, or runaway global pandemics.

The chemists, biologists, mathematicians and physicists bring us medicines, energy and technology and help us understand our natural world. Fisheries & wildlife scientists and environmental scientists develop and shepherd our natural resources, help provide clean air, clean water.

Every product we consume that is not living, came from a hole in the ground that a geologist found.

I myself am an astrophysicist, so if you ever have a chance to take a course from me, I am one of very few on campus that can promise you the universe…And Deliver!

Outside of your work at ATU, what do you do for fun?

Gardening, a whole lot of basketball, & SCUBA.

Dr. Richard Schoephoerster, Dean of the Graduate College and Research

Richard Schoephoerster
Richard Schoephoerster

What do you love best about Arkansas Tech? 

ATU prides itself as being committed to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. As a first-generation college student myself, I know first hand the opportunity that higher education and graduate-level education provides to those students.

Why do programs in your college stand out?

ATU has about 25 master’s programs and one doctoral program. A common feature of all of those programs is the opportunity for practice-based learning, whether through external professional internships, on-campus professional practice experiences, or research experiences on and off campus.

What is the biggest opportunity in your college?

We are in the early stages of developing a strategic plan for research and graduate education at ATU.  This will of course include growth strategies for both.  I invite all of our alumni to send me input on what should be included in that plan.

What are you particularly proud of about the work faculty in your college are doing?

All faculty who teach in ATU graduate programs must maintain membership in the Graduate Faculty through continued evidence of productive scholarship and/or relevant and recognized professional activities in their disciplines. Our Graduate Faculty are recognized regionally, nationally and internationally as scholars and experts in their disciplines.

What do you want to share with alumni and friends of ATU about your college? 

If you are thinking about getting a master’s degree, come on back home to Tech.  We have a wide variety of programs to choose from, many of which are delivered online, and more are in the plans for online delivery.

Outside of your work at ATU, what do you do for fun? 

I am an avid reader, I exercise regularly, and I am addicted to, but far from proficient in, the game of golf.

-Compiled by Carrie Harris Phillips
for the Tech Action, Spring 2021