Dr. Simon Hawkins, Director
Dating back to his honors program in anthropology at Swarthmore College, Dr. Simon Hawkins has been dedicated to education and the liberal arts. In 1988, his interests in other cultures led him to Tunisia as a Peace Corps volunteer, an experience that eventually became the center of his professional research. Upon returning from the Peace Corps he pursued an MA in secondary education at the George Washington University and briefly taught high school social studies before joining the National Center for Improving Science Education where he conducted research on national and international education.
Rather than pursuing further graduate studies in education, he returned to anthropology at the University of Chicago. As a Fulbright Scholar, he moved with his wife and baby daughter to Tunisia in 1998 where he pursued his doctoral research on language learning and national identity. Over the years he has taught at the University of Tunis, the University of Chicago, Vassar College, Montana State University, and Franklin and Marshall College.
His anthropological research in Tunisia has tackled a range of topics, including: national identity, schooling and language learning, relations with Europe, gender and modernity, and state construction of religion. He is an award winning teacher with particular skills in social theory and qualitative research methods. In addition to his academic work, he is a graduate of Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Clown College.
Dr. Jessica R. Scott, Assistant Director
Prior to completing her Ph.D. in environmental dynamics from the University of Arkansas, Dr. Jessica Scott worked for the Walt Disney Company and Neiman Marcus, gaining an appreciation for their high level of service and attention to detail. After returning to graduate school, she had the opportunity to teach in the Fulbright Honors College, an experience that revealed her passion for teaching and mentoring students. Now in her fourth year with the Donaghey Scholars Program, Dr. Scott is able to use these experiences to create a challenging and supportive environment for students. In addition to her work as assistant director, she also teaches the Science and Society core courses for the program, as well as variety of classes for the Department of Anthropology.
While her academic interests are varied, nearly all revolve around dietary ecology. Her primary research uses tooth wear to reconstruct the diets and habitats of early human ancestors, but she has also studied the teeth of ancient Egyptians from the cemeteries at Amarna, Egypt. She has analyzed the teeth of dozens of fossil and living animals, including antelope, aardvarks, lions, hyenas, sabre-toothed cats, lemurs, monkeys, and apes.
Her work led her to conduct field research in Kenya, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Egypt, and The Great Divide Basin in Wyoming, as well as curatorial research with museums in London, Paris, Johannesburg, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Brussels, Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C. She has published articles in The American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Mammalia, The Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, The Journal of Human Evolution, The American Journal of Primatology, PLOS ONE, and Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, as well as a chapter in the edited volume, Technique and Application in Dental Anthropology.
Dr. Scott is married with a young daughter and a ragdoll cat. In her spare time, she does voice work for the local NPR affiliate, KUAR, and serves as a member of the Little Rock Zoo Foundation Board.
Jennifer Knight, Administrative Specialist III
The long and winding road that brought Jennifer to the Donaghey Scholars Program includes time spent in finance, restorative justice, administration, and higher education. After graduating from Wartburg College with a major in sociology, she started a Master’s program in counseling at Saint Mary’s University in Minnesota. During that time, she worked as a graduate assistant in residence life, living on campus with undergraduate students. While life prevented the completion of her Master’s, she continued working in residence life at St. Olaf College.
Relocating to Little Rock to support family brought drastic changes, including a foray into the field of finance. Acting as an executive assistant to the CEO of a local mortgage bank, she experienced a whole new world of markets, basis points, and federal regulations. After eight years in finance, she is thrilled to be returning to higher education.
The Donaghey Scholars program presents the opportunity to combine her skill sets into one position. While technically skilled, her real strength lies in making things happen. Jennifer looks forward to working with students, parents, faculty, and staff to support the Donaghey Scholars.
Outside of work, she is happily married to Tom (the guy she met on the internet long before it was cool) and mother to Spencer and Miriam. She is also an avid cyclist, raising money for various nonprofit organizations while pedaling it out. A second attempt at that Master’s degree is in the near future.
Dr. Earl Ramsey earned his B.A. in History and M.A. in English from Rice University and his Ph.D. in English from the University of Florida. He began teaching as a graduate student at community colleges in Texas and in Florida, but his full-time career began at Yale, then at Bryn Mawr, one of the historic Seven Sisters women’s colleges on the east coast.
Now retired following 25 years as director of UA Little Rock’s top honors program, Dr. Ramsey has made a lasting mark on its development by stressing an interdisciplinary approach. A literary critic and theorist, Ramsey has taught a wide variety of courses throughout his career – from 18th century literature to the writings of Michel de Montaigne, William Shakespeare, William Faulkner and Virginia Wolfe. He also taught History of Ideas in the Donaghey curriculum.
He joined UA Little Rock in 1973 as an associate professor and earned full professor status in 1977. The Student Government Association named him Faculty Member of the Year in 1999, and he received the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences’ Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching in 2005.