UA Little Rock Downtown opens, announces lecture series

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock celebrated the opening of UA Little Rock Downtown on Wednesday, Jan. 16, with a reception and unveiling of the historic Joe Jones’ 1935 mural, The Struggle in the South.

Chancellor Andrew Rogerson welcomed more than 200 people who attended the event at the new center at 333 President Clinton Ave., which will host weekly lectures, some non-credit classes, and provide rental space.

“From the beginning of my tenure at UA Little Rock, there was a lot of encouragement for UA Little Rock to develop a visible, engaged presence downtown,” Dr. Rogerson said. “We understand the importance of making our vital urban campus relevant and accessible here in the heart of the city. We wanted a space that honored the past, engaged the present, and imagined the future, and that is what this multi-use space reflects.”

The new center will serve as a bridge to the main campus and will provide university information, student recruitment and promotion of outstanding programs.

“We will have informative and entertaining lectures, lunchtime panel discussions, career-enhancing short courses, and certificate programs of benefit to the downtown community, and a place for our faculty to offer the community highlights of their cutting-edge research,” Rogerson said.

Newly elected Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, an alumnus of UA Little Rock, spoke at the grand opening and praised UA Little Rock’s efforts.

“I’m so grateful to UA Little Rock for having the forethought to bring this downtown center to fruition,” he said. “A great thriving city must have a great thriving university. This space will connect all areas together.”

UA Little Rock Downtown Director Ross Owyoung announced the center’s weekly lectures series, beginning Feb. 6, and Extended Learning classes beginning in March. The non-credit extended learning classes include two-day writing workshops, led by Sally Crisp, faculty emerita in the UA Little Rock Department of Rhetoric and Writing, and Sherry Rankins-Robertson, associate professor of rhetoric and writing.

“Telling Your own Stories” will be offered March 23 from 1 to 3 p.m. “Writing Family Stories” will be offered April 13 from 1 to 3 p.m.

The weekly lectures will feature UA Little Rock faculty members discussing issues in science, health, community, the arts and other topics. The lectures will be presented on Wednesdays from 6-7 p.m. at UA Little Rock Downtown. The schedule is as follows:

Feb. 6 – “Tales of A Wandering Microbiologist,” UA Little Rock Chancellor Andrew Rogerson

Before becoming chancellor of UA Little Rock, Andrew Rogerson spent 30 years as a researcher and professor in eight universities and two government laboratories. Fascinated by the hidden, and continually engaged in the possibilities of the invisible, Dr. Rogerson has worked on a diverse range of research projects all united by the fact they have involved microbes. Rogerson’s research was funded by various federal agencies including the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This fun lecture requires no prior knowledge of science. Enjoy a rare opportunity to discover the enthralling life of microbes through the life’s work of UA Little Rock’s chancellor.

Feb. 13 – “The Art of Positive Communication: How Small Behaviors Create Your Best Moments,” Julien Mirivel, dean of the College of Social Sciences and Communication

This talk is an introduction to the art of positive communication. It is built on the premise that “the spoken word, spoken honorably and well, can make a difference that no other form of communication can equal.” In the talk, I share a simple model to inspire the audience to communicate more positively. With personal examples and stories, the talk will invite everyone to practice concrete behaviors that will have a positive effect at work, at home, and in the community. By the end of the talk, every person in the audience will be able to create their best moments and to connect with others more deeply.

Feb. 20 – “Poverty, Food, and Nutritionism,” Don Willis, assistant professor of sociology

Food is more than its nutritional and caloric content. It can shape our identity, our social relationships, and even act as a resource to blur or distinguish people across social categories. Dr. Willis will discuss a particular form of poverty—namely, food insecurity—and how it impacts lives and health through social, or non-nutritional pathways, such as one’s sense of social positioning in an unequal world. In asking this question, he also grapples with more fundamental questions about the character of food itself, and its role in shaping social experiences such as trust and belonging. Come for a fresh take on the role of food in shaping unequal lives.

Feb. 27 –  “Nonprofit Capacity Building Strategies,” Kirk Leach, assistant professor in the School of Public Affairs

Dr. Leach will  discussing collaboration and social entrepreneurship in the context of nonprofit capacity building. The goal for the discussion is to engage nonprofits in a shared learning environment, to learn with, and from each other.

March 6 – “Religion and Community Engagement in Little Rock,” Rebecca Glacier, associate professor in the School of Public Affairs

Attendees at this talk will learn about religion, politics, and community engagement in Little Rock. Using data from more than 2,000 congregants and 200 clergy in Little Rock, Dr. Glazier will share information about the benefits of faith-based community engagement and take suggestions for questions and topics for the 2020 Little Rock Congregations Study survey of congregants.

March 13 – “Deviant Mobs of the Internet: Bots, Trolls, and Misinformation,” Nitin Agarwal, Maulden-Entergy Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor of Information Science.

Social media platforms are widely used for sharing information, but they can also be used to disseminate propaganda, hoaxes, and fake news to influence the public. The availability of inexpensive and ubiquitous mass communication tools has made such malicious acts more convenient and effective. This talk will touch upon various research efforts that demonstrate how disinformation campaigns work and examine the critical link between blogs and other social media platforms ( YouTube, Twitter, Facebook). Using socio-computational models that leverage social network analysis and cyber forensics,  leading coordinators of disinformation campaigns are identified. The talk also will highlight tactics, techniques, and procedures used by groups to propagate disinformation. Prominent cases of massive disinformation campaigns in the Baltic region and NATO’s military exercises will be discussed.

All lectures are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Ross Owyoung, UA Little Rock Downtown director, at 870-501-2700 or

More information is available online.

Photos by Benjamin Krain

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