College News Briefs: Winter 2023

Dr. Clinton Petty

College of Education and Human Performance

  • Dr. Clinton Petty, assistant professor of education and EDAS program director, recently published an original research article in Learning Environments Research entitled “Examining mathematics teacher motivation during lesson study: the role of contextual factors for perceived relatedness.” This international journal ranks in the top quartile of educational journals and has a three-year impact factor of 3.79. Dr. Petty’s research examines how environmental and contextual factors shape teacher motivation during lesson study using self-determination theory.
  • The first cohort of candidates for the Educational Diagnostician/Examiner: Grades K-12 certificate program began the program in the summer of 2021 and completed their program in December 2022. This fully online program leads to licensure as an educational examiner, which allows candidates to provide educational testing services for K-12 schools. These candidates have completed many hours of coursework and internship to learn how to educationally test and diagnose students with diverse learning needs.
  • Over 150 high school and university students met on the SAU, Magnolia, campus in November for the Educators Rising Region 5 Conference. Funded by a Walton family grant, the Arkansas Department of Education partnered with Educators Rising and SAU to host this recruiting event. Conference events included interactive breakout sessions where students heard from leaders in education as well as competitions that allowed students to showcase their knowledge and skills as future educators. This event was the result of a great partnership between the local service cooperatives, area school districts, and the SAU College of Education and Human Performance. Teacher Education Faculty Dr. Lisa Oden serves as the Educators Rising Region 5 Coordinator.
"Morning Light"
Artwork by SAU art professor Rhaelene Lowther
Dr. Amber Overholser

Dempsey College of Liberal and Performing Arts

  • The SAU Chamber Singers and Heritage Singers performed “A Little Night Music” concert on Friday, October 21, in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church, Magnolia. Music selections explored the cosmos and humankind’s relationship to it. Special guests included pianist Mr. Michael Womack, members of the SAU Percussion Ensemble, speaker Mr. Ben Gesselman, and tenor Dr. Dave Ekstrum. Admission to this concert was free to the public.
  • The Mulerider band had a record-breaking membership, with the 2022 class being the largest in the University’s history. The band is comprised of 195 students. Director of Bands, J.P. Wilson, indicated earlier this fall that this number makes SAU’s band one of the largest marching bands in the state of Arkansas.
  • Art professors Anna Zusman and Rhaelene Lowther presented their joint show “Quotidian Moments through Different Lenses” at the Texarkana Regional Arts & Humanities Council. The show, based on their pandemic nature walks, ran from late September through the end of October.
  • SAU psychology students Darius Edwards and Aaron Smith presented their research “Barriers to college students accessing mental health services” with Dr. Jennifer Rowsam at the Arkansas Counseling Association Annual (ArCA) Conference in North Little Rock in November.
  • MPA student Anayelid Vasquez was awarded the Arkansas City Management Association’s 2022 Henry M. Alexander Scholarship Award.
  • Dr. Amber Overholser, associate professor and MPA program director, was appointed by Governor Asa Hutchinson to serve on the Criminal Detention Facility Review Committee for District 7. The agency’s mission is to provide an annual review for each jail, adult detention facility, and juvenile detention facility in the state of Arkansas based on current review standards. “It fits directly into Public Administration as far as checking boxes and learning more about the process by which people are confined. I feel very lucky to be a part of that,” Dr. Overholser said.
  • SAU alumna and poet Donika Kelly ‘05 won the 2022 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. Kelly was recognized for outstanding literary contributions to the understanding of racism and human diversity. Her book of poetry The Renunciations is described as “a book of resilience, survival, and the journey to radically shift one’s sense of self in the face of trauma.” Donika received her MFA from the University of Texas, Austin, and her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt.
Pictured from left to right: Lindsay Givens ‘12, instructor of management, Easton Wheatley, Natalie Phillips, Uchenna Jong Loy, Eli McCarver, Kristerica Scott, Ronnie Watson ‘97, assistant professor of management, Ian Murphy, Riyan Stockton, Kim Rand, Brian Teutsch ‘96
The GTEDC is a regional non-profit economic development group consisting of a board of directors which are elected by the GTEDC membership from Calhoun, Columbia, and Ouachita and Union counties. The region has accomplished a great deal and is looking forward to meeting the economic challenges ahead.

Rankin College of Business

  • The David F. Rankin College of Business held the annual Hall of Fame Dinner on November 4, honoring three alumni: Ed Choate ‘75, Dr. Daniel Kyle ‘59 and Allison Schultz ‘85.
  • Six students participated in the Rankin College of Business Internship Program during the spring semester, and nine more completed internships during the summer. Additionally, four graduate students participated in internships during the summer. Dr. Robin Sronce, dean of the College of Business, said, “We’re very proud of our Internship Program. It’s an opportunity for our students to gain valuable workplace experience.”
  • The Entrepreneur Pitch & Idea Competition, or Epic, was held in November. Winners included students from Ag Business, MBA – Social Entrepreneurship, and MPA – Social Entrepreneurship. The winners were: Patrick Wingfield, third; Ainsley Purifoy, second; Carley Rains, Kanesha Evans and Roy Williams, first; and Garrett Hensley, Soar prize winner.
  • Students traveled to Houston, Texas, in September for RCB on the Road. Advisory Council members funded, organized, and hosted the trip, which included tours of HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake, HCA Healthcare Gulf Coast Supply Chain, and Baker Hughes. Students also enjoyed an Astro’s game and alumni event.
  • Mulerider $ense is SAU’s NEW financial literacy program built to show, teach, and prepare students for the financial battles they could face after graduation.
  • The Rankin College of Business partnered with Golden Triangle Economic Development Council to sponsor The Golden Triangle Economic Forecast Conference in October. Speakers included Dr. Michael Pakko, chief economist and state economic forecaster at the Arkansas Economic Development Institute at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and Andrew Clyde, president and CEO of Murphy USA, Inc.
  • Congratulations to the 2022 State Star, Janell Owens Reeves. The State Star award is the highest accolade for Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center employees, recognizing extraordinary performers who have made significant contributions to their state network and display strong commitment to the state’s small businesses and entrepreneurs. Owens Reeves and all the State Stars were honored at the 43rd Annual America’s SBDC Annual Conference hosted in San Diego. Janell is director of the ASBTDC regional office at Southern Arkansas University, a role she has held since 2017.
  • The Rankin College of Business Backpack to Briefcase program expanded to include a networking event with local alumni as well as a dinner to recognize interns who participated in the program.
Pictured left to right: Chris Tart, Seth Horn, Mackenzie Beaird, Sarah Thomas, Bravyn Bell, Dr. Trent Wells, Janie Wilson
Dr. Hayder Zghair

College of Science and Engineering

  • A generous donation of $100,000, given by Francoise Hendricks in memory of Baxter and Callie Ainsworth Hendricks, Leonard and Ruth Sedberry, Mattie Lou Sullivan Sedberry, Tillman Baxter Hendricks, and Mary Nell Sedberry Raborn, has advanced simulation technology and provided additional handson training for nursing students. The department utilized a portion of the donation to purchase a new SimMan simulator with life-like human responses that will provide students with real-world experiences in a simulated health care environment. The funds also allowed the department to acquire a new simulation laptop that monitors vital functions as students work with the patient simulator. A touchscreen patient monitor enhances the student’s learning experience, simulating what takes place in nursing practice. A smaller portion of the funds were used to upgrade technologies within the simulation center. “Through the generosity of our donors, we can commit to improving resources to secure excellent evidence-based practices within an ever-changing health care technology landscape,” said Dr. Karen Ainsworth Landry, chair of the department of nursing.
  • Six SAU Agricultural Education students recently attended a teacher professional development workshop at Sam Houston State University (SHSU) in Huntsville, Texas. The workshop, titled “Bumper Pull Trailer Building 101,” was designed to expand upon agriculture teachers’ competence at building large agricultural mechanics projects and was facilitated by Dr. Ryan Saucier of SHSU. The six SAU students who participated in the workshop were Chris Tart, Seth Horn, Sarah Thomas, Bravyn Bell, MacKenzie Beaird, and Janie Wilson. Dr. Trent Wells, assistant professor of agricultural education in the SAU Department of Agriculture, organized the trip. “My desire is that by participating in this workshop, these six students will be better-prepared to competently teach agricultural mechanics to their own students someday,” said Wells. The SAU Foundation provided funds to help cover trip expenses.
  • Two engineering students, Brandon Ravenscraft and Jonathan Bunnell, participated in the ATMAE Student Division Robotics Competition at the 2022 ATMAE Annual Conference held in Louisville, Kentucky, in November. Engineering professors Md Islam and Mahbub Ahmed accompanied the students. This trip was funded through a travel scholarship provided by the SAU Foundation.
  • Dr. Hayder Zghair, assistant professor of industrial engineering, was presented the Outstanding Service Award in recognition and appreciation for his work as Conference Chair and his contributions to the industrial engineering and operations management profession. The award was presented at the Industrial Engineering and Operations Management Conference in June.
  • Dr. Daniel McDermott and Dr. Jeremy Chamberlain of the SAU Department of Biology received a $40,000 grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences through the Arkansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program. This grant is in collaboration with Dr. Lori Neuman-Lee at Arkansas State University (ASU) and Dr. Tiffany Weinkopff at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). This project aims to establish snakes as a novel model for studying the innate immune system in animals.

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