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UA Little Rock to Host First Topping Out Ceremony to Honor Construction Management, Civil and Construction Engineering Graduates

Graduating students will receive a commemorative UA Little Rock hardhat.
Graduating students will receive a commemorative UA Little Rock hardhat.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock will hold an inaugural topping out ceremony to honor graduating students from the Department of Construction Management and Civil and Construction Engineering.

The ceremony is the first of a new tradition for UA Little Rock and will begin at 6 p.m. Dec. 5 at the Associated Builders and Contractors of Arkansas building in North Little Rock. Many members of the construction management industry will join the graduates for the ceremony as well as a celebratory dinner.

“Graduation is a big day for all and to recognize students in a unique manner that is clearly related to their degree makes it even more special,” said Dr. Lawrence Whitman, dean of the Donaghey College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. “The Topping Out ceremony is a great way to provide special recognition for these great graduates. Thanks to Jill Cates for her leadership in establishing this new, excellent tradition for our Construction Management majors.”

The graduating students who will be honored include Caleb Coffman, Steven Currence, Tabari Herron, William Hopkins, Naji Kattom, Andrew Payton, and Christian Salazar.

The graduating students will be honored with commemorative UA Little Rock hardhats and certificates as well as sign a beam that will be displayed in the Engineering, Technology, and Applied Science Building at UA Little Rock for future generations to see.

“Traditionally in a Topping Out Ceremony in construction, all members involved with the project sign the final beam that will be placed on the building,” said Jillian Cates, a senior construction management major and president of the Associated General Contractors of America student chapter. “Since our graduates have reached this milestone in both their academic and professional career, we are having them do the same thing!”

Cates is a member of the Dean’s Student Leadership Board and had the idea to begin the topping out ceremony at UA Little Rock after seeing similar ceremonies taking place at other universities across the country.

“I have been working hard to make this happen since the beginning of this summer, and I promise you this tradition is nothing short of amazing,” Cates said. “It will not only bring a sense of community to the graduates from our department, but will also bring an even greater love for this university for all who are a part of it. This is a way for us to leave our mark on the university.”

The ceremony is a way to distinguish the graduates of one of UA Little Rock’s most successful academic departments. Students in the program are highly sought after by the construction management industry and have a 100 percent employment rate upon graduation.

Ceremony speakers include Dr. Hank Bray, department chair; Mike Tramel, professor and founding past department chair; Dr. Lawrence Whitman, dean of the Donaghey College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and Lloyd Webre, director of development and external affairs.

“I am excited about the first ever topping out ceremony for graduates of the programs in construction management and civil and construction engineering,” Bray said. “Topping out in construction refers to placing the last piece of steel in a building or structure. It’s a milestone in a project that is widely celebrated by the contractor, the employees, and the owner. The last beam is signed by all the parties and lifted into place by a crane with much fanfare, often flying an American flag. It is fitting to recognize these graduates as they reach this milestone in their career – not completed, but well on their way. I am so proud of Jill for her leadership in starting this new tradition.”