ATU to Welcome TRIO Students Saturday

More than 380 high school and college students from around Arkansas have registered to participate in a statewide TRIO Day hosted by Arkansas Tech University in Russellville on Saturday, Feb. 23.

TRIO is an initiative enacted by the United States government in 1964 to overcome class, social and cultural barriers to higher education.

Programs under the TRIO umbrella include Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math and Science, Veterans Upward Bound, Student Support Services and Talent Search.

Students attending the TRIO Day at ATU will have an opportunity to interact with their peers from other schools and institutions. They will also have opportunities to learn about the educational options available at ATU.

Arkansas Tech hosts Student Support Services, Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math and Science and Veterans Upward Bound programs. They are administered under the auspices of the ATU Office of Academic Affairs.

Robotics State Championships Coming to ATU

Arkansas Tech University will host 120 teams representing grades 3-12 from every region of the Natural State during the 2019 VEX Robotics State Championships on March 7 and 9.

Competition will take place at John E. Tucker Coliseum, 1604 Coliseum Drive in Russellville. ATU STEM Education Collaborative is acting as host for the event.

The road to Russellville for the state championships began with 460 registered teams. Fifty regional tournaments are whittling the field down to the 120 teams that will vie for the state titles in VEX IQ and VEX VRC. A total of 23 teams will advance from the Arkansas championships to the 2019 VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Ky., in April.

Cities that will be represented in the state championships at Arkansas Tech will include Alexander, Bentonville, Bradford, Bryant, Camden, Centerton, Clarksville, Crossett, El Dorado, Fayetteville, Gravette, Harrison, Highland, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Lake Village, Little Rock, Lonoke, Magnolia, McGehee, Monticello, Nashville, Ola, Russellville, Sheridan, Sherwood, Springdale, Subiaco and Wynne. Additional cities may be added to this list as the final regional tournaments are completed.

For more information about the VEX Robotics State Championships at ATU, call (479) 880-4323 or send e-mail to

ATU, St. Mary’s Explore Benefits of DEUs

The Arkansas Tech University Department of Nursing and St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Russellville have developed an innovative way to enhance students’ academic experience and patients’ care.

St. Mary’s has designated the medical surgical unit on its fourth floor as a dedicated education unit (DEU). As a result, hospital staff nurses have been trained on course objectives and expectations so they can serve as clinical teachers when interacting with student nurses.

Dr. Terri McKown, professor of nursing at ATU, began her study of the DEU model a decade ago when she was completing her doctorate. Now, through a partnership forged with Carole Gore, director of nursing at St. Mary’s, and Marrlene Vanderboom, St. Mary’s medical surgical unit director, Arkansas Tech and St. Mary’s are bringing the instructional style to the Natural State for the first time.

“Nursing programs are continually looking for methods to enhance student learning and clinical experiences, while health care organizations are seeking opportunities to retain experienced nurses,” said McKown. “The DEU teaching model has existed nearly 20 years and is currently utilized by other nursing programs in different states, but hasn’t been implemented in Arkansas to date.

“This program affects our whole community and people’s perceptions of our program, the hospital and the community,” continued McKown. “Students have told us they love real-time patient care and that the clinical teachers help them recall why we do things the way we do. The students have also provided positive feedback about the helpfulness of the clinical teachers, the benefits of the added presence of nursing faculty members and how patients become involved in learning and teaching.”

Each clinical teacher from the St. Mary’s nursing staff is paired with two ATU nursing students, and each nursing student in the program has two patients. The clinical teachers are granted a reduced patient load by St. Mary’s so they can provide training while maintaining high-quality care.

The following objectives are shared by ATU and St. Mary’s:

  • Utilize expert staff nurse experience(s) to increase nursing student knowledge
  • Improve satisfaction and retention of seasoned nurses
  • Recruitment of new nurses
  • Create an atmosphere of increased teamwork/collaboration with mutual respect and integrity
  • Patient-centeredness
  • Improve patient care involvement and satisfaction
  • Provide optimal outcomes through excellent patient care

McKown explained that another important aspect of the program is the fact that the ATU students have the same clinical trainer throughout the semester.

“This allows true partnership development in caring for the patient,” said McKown. “It creates trust in the student’s abilities and skills while fostering real time nursing.”

ATU and St. Mary’s launched a pilot DEU program in fall 2018. The program is continuing in spring 2019 with plans to expand into additional area hospitals by fall 2019.

Visit to learn more about the ATU Department of Nursing.

ATU Names 2019 Hall of Distinction Honorees

Four Arkansas Tech University alumni will receive their alma mater’s highest honor in 2019.

Truman Hill of Russellville, Major Gen. Gary W. Johnston of Fort Belvoir, Va., George Mitchell of Denton, Texas, and Lt. Col. William J. Sidebottom of Springfield, Va., will be inducted into the ATU Hall of Distinction during spring commencement ceremonies at John E. Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Saturday, May 11.

Hill will be inducted under the Distinguished Alumni Service category, while Johnston, Mitchell and Sidebottom will enter the Hall of Distinction under the Distinguished Alumnus category.

“For more than 50 years, the Arkansas Tech Hall of Distinction has recognized individuals who have distinguished themselves through their career achievements and commitment to our university,” said Dr. Robin E. Bowen, ATU president. “The four individuals selected for induction in 2019 are exemplars of characteristics that we seek to instill in our students. We look forward to honoring them at May commencement.”

Truman Hill

Hill earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from Arkansas Tech in 1970. He went on to a 35-year career with Firestone and served on the ATU Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2012-14. The ATU alumni board elected Hill as its president for 2015.

In addition to his work with the ATU Alumni Association, Hill has also rendered volunteer service to enhance Arkansas Tech’s representation in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame (ASHOF). He led the nomination process and chaired the committee that planned the ASHOF induction ceremony for the 1992 and 1993 NAIA national championship women’s basketball teams from Arkansas Tech.

Major Gen. Gary W. Johnston

Johnston received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from ATU in 1987. He completed the U.S. Army ROTC program at ATU and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army.

In the years since, Johnston has served as Director of Intelligence, J-2, U.S. Special Operations Command; Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, XVIII Airborne Corps; and Deputy J-2, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command (ISAF-IJC), Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan. His joint and combined assignments include Commander, Task Force 165 in support of Combined/Joint Task Force 76 in Bagram, Afghanistan; Commander, Combined Task Force Viper, Spin Boldak, Afghanistan; Deputy Director of Operations, Joint Intelligence Center Central, U.S. Central Command; Chief, WMD Analysis Branch, Joint Intelligence Center Central; and Executive Officer, Directorate of Operations, Joint Intelligence Center Pacific. He most recently served as Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence, Resolute Support Mission, North Atlantic Treaty Organization/Director, J-2, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, from April 2017 until April 2018.

As of June 2018, Johnston is the commander for the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM). He has oversight of 17,500 soldiers, Army civilians and contractors working on behalf of the United States at 180 locations in 45 countries.

George Mitchell

Mitchell earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Arkansas Tech in 1970. He completed the ROTC program at Tech, won the Distinguished Military Graduate award and earned a commission as an officer in the U.S. Army.

After serving in the military and as an accountant for Arthur Andersen and Company in Oklahoma City and Arkoma Production Company in Fort Smith, Mitchell became chief financial officer for Jerry Jones’ business empire in 1999. He maintained those responsibilities for 12 years.

Today, Mitchell serves as senior vice president of finance for the Dallas Cowboys football club and Blue Star Investments Inc. Mitchell has helped the organization plan and finance, among other projects, the construction of AT&T Stadium in Arlington (estimated cost: $1.15 billion) and The Star, a 91-acre facility in Frisco that hosts the world headquarters for the Dallas Cowboys (estimated cost: $1.5 billion). Additional real estate developments in north Texas as well as accounting and reporting for oil and gas holdings are also part of the portfolio that Mitchell oversees.

Lt. Col. William J. Sidebottom

Sidebottom completed a Bachelor of Science degree in business from Arkansas Tech in 1967.

Recipient of the Distinguished Military Graduate award, Sidebottom served two combat tours in Vietnam. He earned the Silver Star for evacuating six fellow soldiers, four of whom were wounded, to safety while under enemy fire near the Cambodian border on Feb. 17, 1969. He also received four Purple Heart medals, a Bronze Star, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and 14 air medals for his service in southeast Asia.

Sidebottom retired from active duty in 1990 and later assisted the U.S. Army in transforming its logistics and financial programs while working at SAP. He was inducted into the Arkansas Military Veterans Hall of Fame in 2015 and the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame in 2017.

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

Photographed: Truman Hill (top left); Major Gen. Gary W. Johnston (top right); George Mitchell (bottom left); and Lt. Col. William J. Sidebottom (bottom right).

Dickens Crowned Miss Arkansas Tech 2019

Kara Dickens of Cedarville was crowned the 64th Miss Tech on Friday night during the 2019 Miss Arkansas Tech University Scholarship Pageant at Witherspoon Auditorium.

Daughter of Gail and Rodney Dickens, the 18-year old Arkansas Tech freshman captured top prizes in evening gown and scholastic achievement on her way to winning the Miss Tech crown. Her talent was a lyrical American sign language performance of “Broken Vessels.”

“I’ve worked so hard for this, and I’m so excited and happy for the year to come,” said Dickens, who is majoring in political science. “I’m proud of each and every one of these girls. They are all incredible and we’ve had the best time this week. I’m so lucky and blessed. I love this school so much. This is an incredible place with awesome students and professors. I’m so excited to represent this university.”

Dickens was sponsored in the 2019 Miss Tech Pageant by Jim White Realty of Alma. Her platform is “Let’s Role: The Power of a Positive Role Model.”

“Not only do we each need to have a role model,” said Dickens, “but we need to strive to be a role model. That’s what I hope to bring to this campus this year.”

Dickens will represent ATU in the 2019 Miss Arkansas Pageant June 8-16 at Robinson Performance Hall in Little Rock.

Among the prizes that Dickens receives as Miss Tech is a two-semester tuition scholarship at Arkansas Tech. In all, more than $23,000 in gifts and scholarships were awarded during the 2019 Miss Arkansas Tech Pageant.

Lauren Brown of Harrison (first runner-up), Rebecca Ward of Clarksville (second runner-up), Paden Cook of Lamar (third runner-up) and Anna Adams-King of Fort Smith (fourth runner-up) rounded out the top five among 13 contestants.

Other contestants in the 64th Miss Tech Pageant were Abigail Bankston of White Hall, Darby Dunn of Hot Springs, Halie Eastham of Cabot, Meredith Harrison of Hot Springs, Makayla King of Conway, Haley Milam of Alma, Payton Palazzi of Rison and Shaneequah Watkins of Lincoln, Neb.

Dr. Jim Collins is in his 19th year as executive director of the Miss Arkansas Tech University Pageant. Delta Zeta sorority sponsored the event for a 20th consecutive year.

2019 Miss Arkansas Tech Pageant | 2/15/19