Alumni Spotlight

Our alumni make us look good. Whether they are elected officials, educators, attorneys, campaign consultants, managers, lobbyists, or business people, they are doing some amazing things and we want to highlight their many accomplishments (and perhaps brag just a little bit about having been a small part of helping them get where they are). Therefore, we want to shine a spotlight on them. We will add a new profile every couple of weeks, so make sure you check back to meet more of the great people who have come through our program. If you are one of our alumni and would like to be in the spotlight, contact Dr. Giammo (jdgiammo@ualr.edu) for details about how to be included.

Our current alumnus in the spotlight is Victor Turner:

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I began the MPA Program at UALR in the Spring of 1989 and graduated in August of 1991. During that time, I met many students that became lifelong friends. While at UALR, I received a great education in the MPA Program and formed relationships with faculty/staff that have been beneficial to me professionally throughout my career. In fact, early in my career, writing samples from research papers and references from faculty helped me secure a position as a Planner with the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism. The MPA Program at UALR was great for me and is an educational experience I would not hesitate to recommend to an aspiring young student or seasoned professional.

Previous alumni in the spotlight:

Vivian Flowers

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Representative Vivian Flowers has aspired to become a public servant since junior high school and elected leader since college. Her aspirations were realized early in adulthood and culminated on January 12, 2015 when she was sworn in the 90th Arkansas General Assembly as State Representative for District 17. She serves on the House Revenue and Tax Committee, House Aging, Children & Youth, Military and Legislative Affairs Committee, as well as the Governor’s Council on Medicaid Reform, and was recently appointed to national leadership posts with the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) and Women in Legislative Leadership (WILL).

With bachelor’s degrees in political science and professional technical writing from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Flowers sought to earn a graduate degree that would allow her to focus her graduate studies on civic engagement and fair elections. After many years as a volunteer and public service professional Flowers earned her Master of Public Service degree as an inaugural graduate of the Clinton School of Public Service. Her graduate experiences in the classroom, in the Delta, and in South Africa led her to accept a position at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) upon graduation. She did so with a social justice mission toward equity in education and health. For nearly a decade, she worked as Director of Recruitment for Diversity then Chief Operating Officer at the UAMS Center for Diversity Affairs, where she led the department’s diversity recruitment, program, and leadership activities.

Prior to graduate school and UAMS, Flowers established a solid record as a volunteer as well as a strong public service background that includes service in state government, the non-profit sector, journalism, and politics. She was executive director of the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus and its foundation from 2003 to 2005, and had served as staff for the Caucus from 1997 to 2003. She also worked as committee staff for the Arkansas Bureau of Legislative Research, program coordinator for the Center for Healing Hearts and Spirits, and as an associate editor/writer for PowerPlay Magazine. Flowers has also worked as an intern and staff for political campaigns, ranging from the Arkansas state legislative candidates to the presidential campaigns of Former President Bill Clinton and Ambassador Carol Mosley Braun.

In addition to her career service, Flowers has consistently contributed her time and focus to service organizations that reflect her commitment social justice and the common good. She currently serves as a board member of the Women’s Council on African American Affairs and is a Founding Member of Higher Heights. She previously served as a board member for the Arkansas Mentoring & Networking Association, Arkansas Service Commission, Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Math and Science, the CASA Women’s Shelter, the Pine Bluff Historic District Commission, and Common Cause of Arkansas. Flowers’ past volunteerism includes service on the board the Arkansas Minority Health Commission, for which she served as chair for four years of the eleven years she served the state in this capacity. She is also a past board member of the Arkansas Women’s Foundation (Chair, Women of Promise Committee 2008-2010), an organization dedicated to promoting philanthropy among women and to helping women and girls achieve their full potential.

A 5th generation Arkansan and a proud Pine Bluff native, Flowers currently resides in historic downtown Pine Bluff. She is a member of the Pine Bluff Branch of the NAACP, and an active member of St. John AME Church.

James Fisher

James Fisher

James received his Master in Public Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Conflict Resolution form UALR in 2013. In addition to coursework, James was a Graduate Assistant for the Arkansas Public Administration Consortium (APAC). Upon graduation James continued his work with APAC as a Program Coordinator for their Certified Public Manager Program. In 2015 James went onto work for the Arkansas Bureau of Legislative Research as a Personnel Analyst reviewing requests for 38 state agencies, specifically institutions of higher education. In 2016 James returned to his hometown of Topeka, Kansas to continue to work in legislative research with the Kansas Legislative Research Department. As a Research Fellow, James performs policy research, and analysis in the public health, utilities, and telecommunication subject areas. James not only treasures the relationships he built during his time at UALR and the connections the MPA program fostered, but he directly attributes his success in his work today to the instructors he had while a graduate student. His favorite courses included policy analysis, governmental budgeting, methods, politics and bureaucracy, and the capstone, because each of these courses challenged him academically, and incorporated an instructional style that used real world examples, and in some cases provide actual experience.

You can contact James at james.Fisher@klrd.ks.gov

Sherri Wallace

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Alumna Dr. Sherri L. Wallace was recently promoted to full professor of political science at the University of Louisville. A native of Marche, AR and graduate of Oak Grove High School (1985), she attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) on a Chancellor’s Leadership Class scholarship earning her Bachelor’s degree in 1989. In the summer of 1988, she and classmates—Kevin Anderson (Associate Professor, Eastern Illinois University) and the late Kenneth Furlough—were strongly encouraged by the political science faculty, particularly Dr. Art English and Dr. Daryl Rice, to participate in the American Political Science Association’s (APSA) undergraduate student initiative, the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute (RBSI), a program designed to increase the number of scholars of color in the discipline, now in its 40th year. Interestingly, all three were selected to participate in the five-week program then held jointly at Louisiana State University and Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA, now based at Duke University. The experience changed her life!  Along with being taught by the dedicated, brilliant professors in the close-knit department at UALR, she discovered her love for research, teaching and community service. The RBSI summer courses exposed her to the numerous opportunities for graduate study in political science. Additionally, being part of the APSA Minority Fellow Program led to her acceptance into the graduate program in the Department of Government at Cornell University, where she earned her master’s (1993) and doctorate (1996) degrees. She also received a President’s Council for Cornell Women Fellowship to conduct her dissertation research. In her career, she has published numerous peer-reviewed articles on college textbook diversity, race and politics, community economic development, and women and faculty of color in academe.  She is co-author with Hanes Walton, Jr. and Robert C. Smith on the textbook, American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom(8e, forthcoming 2017). She teaches African American politics, American politics, public policy, state politics and urban politics. She is the recipient of 2014 Anna Julia Cooper Teacher of the Year Award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, and the 2013 Grawemeyer Award for Outstanding Instructional Design, a regional award for “Excellence in Teaching” from Kentuckiana Metroversity colleges and universities. She actively engages in public service in the discipline serving as an officer or member of standing (executive) committees, organized sections, and program and award committees for the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, American Political Science Association, Midwest Political Science Association, Southern Political Science Association, Southwestern Political Science Association, and Western Political Science Association. She stays active in the community as a professional consultant on various projects, and as a member and volunteer on local boards, committees, and organizations.

Chuck Savage

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My name is Chuck Savage and I graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in the Spring of 2013. I graduated with a B.A. in political science with honors and with a minor in international studies and a minor in history. My time at UALR was great and I could not have asked for a better group of professors to help me along the way. The political science, history, and international studies departments had amazing people working in them. I do miss working and studying under these great folks. I would not change a thing about the decisions I made for upper level education.

After graduating, I volunteered for the Peace Corps. That whole process took roughly a year to get all the paperwork, background checks, etc. to be completed. During my year off, I volunteered with a local program that teaches English to mostly Hispanic adults. After all the necessary tasks were completed for Peace Corps, they decided that they would like for me to teach English to kids in their teens (anywhere from 12 to 18) in Rwanda. I left for Rwanda on September 5th last year. I did three months worth of training, which included teaching skills to cultural differences. Unfortunately, I had some health issues while I was over there and had to return suddenly. It was a great experience and wouldn’t change it for the world. As of now, I’m currently applying to the New Mexico State for their Master’s in history and plan to start that next fall.

Joe Berry

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Joe Berry, of Heber Springs, left Cabot High School after completing the 10th grade and earned his GED from the Lonoke County Adult Education Center. Joe later enrolled at ASU-Beebe and transferred to UALR where he graduated magna cum laudein Political Science and History. He was a two-time Pi Sigma Alpha, Iota Mu Chapter President—earning national top chapter awards both years. Upon graduation, he served as an intern for former Congressman Vic Snyder. He then decided to further his education, earning a master’s degree in Public Administration from the UALR Institute of Government.

Joe has over a dozen years of experience in higher education and is the Executive Assistant to the Chancellor at ASU-Beebe, where he serves on the cabinet and is the University’s legislative and governmental liaison. He is responsible for governmental relations, community relations, emergency management, special projects, University initiatives, and grant administration. He is also involved with accreditation, strategic planning, institutional effectiveness, quality control, institutional budgeting, enrollment management, and employee development. Prior to his current role, he worked as the Learning Center Coordinator and Upward Bound Academic Coordinator. He has taught as Adjunct Instructor of Political Science and taught various non-credit courses as well.

Joe was named the Outstanding Political Science Graduate and has received three Excellence in Public Service awards. In 2012, the ASU-Heber Springs student body named him the Outstanding Staff Member; and, in 2014, he was named the state and regional TRiO Achiever. Joe served as ASU-Beebe’s Staff Senate President from 2009-2011, and he currently serves on the Governor’s Earthquake Advisory Council and the Governor’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Advisory Council.

Carli Steelman

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I graduated from the UALR Political Science Department in the Spring of 2013. I am currently a third-year PhD student in comparative politics at the University of New Mexico; my research agenda explores the relationship between post-conflict institutional arrangements and social capital. This summer I spent 2 1/2 months doing field research and language training in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The training and mentorship that I received from the political science faculty at UALR has been a vital part of my success, and I encourage those currently studying in the political science program to take advantage of it.

James Sturch

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My name is James Sturch and I am a proud alumnus of the Political Science Department at UALR. I am originally from Batesville, Arkansas and came to UALR in hopes of being able to take advantage of the opportunities for political involvement in the capital city. That decision has turned out to be one of the best I ever made. Upon graduation with my BA in Political Science and Social Studies Education, I decided to continue my education and pursue a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) also at UALR. It has always been one of my long-term goals to have a career in public service. I wanted to start with and serve my home community. This past year in 2014, I ran for State Representative for Independence County. Much to the surprise of many, myself included, we won 62% of the vote, making me the youngest member of the 90th General Assembly at the age of 24. This past year I have served in that capacity and continued my coursework. I will graduate with my MPA in December 2015 and hope to be able to teach college students in courses such as American Government or Introduction to Political Science.

Without hesitation I can say that being in office has given me numerous opportunities to put the education I have received here at UALR into practice. Many of these opportunities were made possible because of the professors of the political science department who encouraged me and taught me more than I can say. Dr. Art English was one of the first professors to invite to become involved with the honor society, Iota Mu. He encouraged me to become a leader in that organization and for that experience I am grateful.  Dr. Joe Giammo was my longtime advisor who helped me figure out what I wanted to do and how to get there academically. Dr. Giammo taught several of my classes, such as legislative process and behavior, that I wish I could retake now because they are so meaningful to me. Professor Ann Clemmer made a personal impact on my life because she was a living example of what I wanted to do. She could apply what was in the textbook with real life experiences because she managed a teaching career with being in the legislature, a path I hope to emulate. The Political Science Department here at UALR has something for everyone. From organizations and programs to internships and job opportunities, one can definitely find ways to be involved and ultimately put their own education into practice.

Kim Wilson

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After graduating with a B.A. in political science and legal studies from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2006, I have changed careers and completed graduate study. In 2007, I earned a series 65 securities license and began a career in portfolio management. In 2010, I earned a master’s degree in secondary social studies education and currently teach world history, psychology and sociology at the high school level. I did not enter politics after commencement, but my love for geopolitical study continues and remains my first hobby. Although I knew I received an exceptional education at UALR, it was not until graduate study and professional practice that I began to appreciate the analytical reasoning skills imparted to me by the political science department at UALR. Undoubtedly, the level of rigor I received through my undergraduate course of study not only prepared me for academic success at the graduate level, but also professionally. My degree in political science and law remains the one of which I am the most proud and reflect on my time at UALR with nostalgic fondness.

Barton James

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Many of my friends often question whether their investment in college and the degree they pursued is utilized today.  Without a doubt I can say I made a great investment with my political science degree from UALR. Even before graduating I had a sense I had found my calling.  I had a very untraditional college experience maintaining over 15 hours a semester through a two day a week class schedule (Tuesday & Thursday).  This allowed me to serve as a full-time staffer for former Congressman Jay Dickey (AR-4). Since then my work in federal, state and local government along with my campaign experience has allowed me to further hone my political, legislative and communication skills.

After several stints as a campaign operative I was appointed in 2001 to serve as political appointee at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and later returned as a political appointee at the U.S. Small Business Administration.  In 2003 I moved to Ducks Unlimited, where I led their policy work with federal agencies and Congress on agriculture, energy, tax issues, clean water, coastal habitat loss, the Army Corps of Engineers, water supply and hunting issues for nearly a decade. I was then recruited to lead the Land Trust Alliance’s public policy efforts, designing and implementing a national advocacy program.

Most recently I began serving as Executive Director for the National Mitigation Banking Association, a national trade association.

As a father of twin boys and avid sportsman I’m very grateful for these experiences, which have allowed me to play an instrumental role in shaping national conservation policy for over two decades.

Kevin Anderson

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My name is Kevin Anderson and I am an Associate Professor of Political Science at Eastern Illinois University. It is not the job I envisioned having as I started college but the road that led me here began as a Political Science major at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

It all started simply enough; near the end of my junior year, I stopped into the department office to ask about summer classes when the department secretary Mary Ann Miller stopped me and suggested I apply to the American Political Science Association’s Ralph Bunche Summer Institute. The Institute was a national program designed to recruit minority undergraduates to consider Doctoral study in political science.

I was interested but a little concerned that I was applying to this program from a small department in Little Rock but as I thought of the classes I had taken; American Political Parties from Dr. English, American Foreign Policy from Dr. Scranton, and Modern Political Theory from Dr. Rice I began to think my chances were pretty good.

The time spent in classes in both Stabler and Ross Halls was remarkable. The expertise and skill of the faculty had introduced me to key concepts in the discipline, whether it was understanding Median Voter Theory to explain the behavior of Democrats and Republicans, the idea of Containment as a motivating factor for Presidential behavior in the International arena and the complex interaction of liberty and equality reflected in the readings of John Locke, Karl Marx and John Stewart Mill covered in Modern Political Theory.

I was accepted into the Institute (along with two other UALR political science majors) and started down the path that led to a career in academia but the enthusiasm and skill of the faculty at UALR had already made me curious about the possibility of a career teaching at the university level. The influence of the political science faculty was strong; so strong that I still use notes taken as an undergraduate in crafting my lectures for students today.

As hectic as life can be as a professor, I still enjoy it as much as the first time I sat in a political science class at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.