News – News https://ualr.edu/news News from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Fri, 14 Dec 2018 15:09:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 $1.1 million in legacy gifts to benefit Trojan student-athletes https://ualr.edu/news/2018/12/14/little-rock-athletics-gifts/ Fri, 14 Dec 2018 14:55:49 +0000 https://ualr.edu/news/?p=72984 Little Rock Athletics is pleased to announce a number of recent legacy gifts to the Trojan Athletic department. These generous donations, which total nearly $1 million, will greatly enhance the student-athlete experience for all 15 Trojan Athletic programs.  A large portion of these donations have come in the form of three new naming rights throughout […]

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Little Rock Athletics is pleased to announce a number of recent legacy gifts to the Trojan Athletic department. These generous donations, which total nearly $1 million, will greatly enhance the student-athlete experience for all 15 Trojan Athletic programs. 

A large portion of these donations have come in the form of three new naming rights throughout the Jack Stephens Center. The Lot 16 entrance on the northwest corner will now be known as the Dr. Bob Young Entrance. The student-athlete entrance, located on the ground floor, is now the Mary and Rick Edwards Family Entrance.

Additionally, the Athletic Administrative offices located on the third floor will now be known as the Patricia and Mark L. Pollack Athletics Suite. The suite will lead to the newly named Victor Jacuzzi Family Office of the Director of Athletics.

“The support we continue to receive from Little Rock athletic supporters has been overwhelming,” said Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Chasse Conque. “To be able to announce and unveil these three naming opportunities at the Jack Stephens Center is an honor, and I can’t thank Dr. Young, Mary and Rick, Patti and Mark, and Vic enough for their leadership giving and continued support of our student-athletes. Private support from constituents is the lifeblood of any athletics program, and for Little Rock Athletics to sustain and build on our current success, support from the community is vital. We are fortunate to have a loyal base of generous partners to help fulfill our mission of Graduating Champions.”

Little Rock Athletics is pleased to announce a number of recent legacy gifts to the Trojan Athletic department. These generous donations, which total nearly $1 million, will greatly enhance the student-athlete experience for all 15 Trojan Athletic programs.
Little Rock Athletics is pleased to announce a number of recent legacy gifts to the Trojan Athletic department. These generous donations, which total nearly $1 million, will greatly enhance the student-athlete experience for all 15 Trojan Athletic programs.

In addition to the legacy gifts, an additional $70,000 has been raised through private funds to support the John F. Torbett Memorial Scoreboard at the Donaghey Aquatic Center. The project was made possible by generous contributions from the Little Rock swimming and diving alumni as well as friends and supporters in the Little Rock swimming community.

Little Rock student-athletes once again set program records this past year in the classroom, posting a department-record 3.30 cumulative grade point average in the fall 2017 semester. Trojan student-athletes have achieved a department-wide GPA of 3.0 or better for 12-straight semesters and have posted the highest Graduation Success Rate of any Division I institution across the state of Arkansas in five of the last six years, graduating 82 percent of Trojan student-athletes.

The successes in the classroom have helped led to a record-setting fall season by Trojan student-athletes. Women’s soccer, under first-year head coach Mark Foster, set a program record for wins in a season, en route to winning the Sun Belt Conference tournament and advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.

Volleyball advanced to the semifinals of the Sun Belt tournament and reached the postseason for the first time since 2014, making an appearance in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship. Successes were also had on the golf course, as men’s golf ended the fall season with a GolfStat ranking of 84, its best since the 2002-03 season.

For more information on how to leave your legacy on Little Rock Athletics, contact Tyson Baldwin, Little Rock’s Director of Athletic Development, at 501-350-4653 or twbaldwin@ualr.edu.

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New degree leads to dream career for single dad https://ualr.edu/news/2018/12/14/anthony-alexander-grad/ Fri, 14 Dec 2018 14:18:59 +0000 https://ualr.edu/news/?p=72972 Less than 48 hours after Anthony Alexander graduates from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a bachelor’s degree in applied communication on Dec. 15, he will begin his dream job as the dean of students at eStem Elementary School in Little Rock.   “UA Little Rock has given me the tools I needed to […]

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Less than 48 hours after Anthony Alexander graduates from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a bachelor’s degree in applied communication on Dec. 15, he will begin his dream job as the dean of students at eStem Elementary School in Little Rock.  

“UA Little Rock has given me the tools I needed to get where I am now as dean of students,” said Alexander, 32, of Little Rock. “It’s an enormous honor to come right out of graduation and start a dream position. Because they were so impressed with my resume and the education I was receiving, in their words, they couldn’t help but offer me the position. Without my education, I would not have the future I have going forward.”

Alexander first started at UA Little Rock in 2004 after graduating J.A. Fair High School. He left in 2006 after learning some life-altering news.

“I had to drop out due to having a child on the way,” he said. “Of course, you don’t make any money at school, and I had to go make money. Two years after Anthony Jr. was born, his mother passed, and I became a single parent. He’s 10 now.”

Alexander always had a dream of finishing his education and making a difference in the lives of young people. It was that dream that led him to come back to school at UA Little Rock in spring 2014.  

“Anthony found a home in the Department of Applied Communication and started succeeding in his coursework,” said Dr. April Chatham-Carpenter, chair of the Department of Applied Communication and Alexander’s advisor. “He eventually switched to the online program for his major in order to work multiple jobs to support his growing family. Anthony is an example of a resilient and persistent student, who overcomes hardships to pursue his dreams. He is already paying it forward to other young people who need to be inspired to go after their dreams as well. We are very proud of Anthony’s achievements to reach his dreams!”

One of Alexander’s motivations for completing his degree was to show the importance of education to his son.

That is the reason I got back into school,” he said. “I wanted to show my son that no longer how long it takes, you can always finish what you started. I can’t preach the gospel if I don’t practice it myself. It’d be hard to tell them they need to go to school when I dropped out myself. My grandmother helped me out through school. She would watch him when I had to take a final or go to class.”

Over the past six years, Alexander has found his passion working with children in the Little Rock School District.

“I love kids. They fulfill my life. They give me a sense that I am working for a purpose,” he said. “It’s a new experience every day when you are working with kids. I like to think that I can help mold a kid into a direction that I could have had at our age. I don’t look like your typical educator, so they tend to latch on to me. The kids at the school I work at call me ‘Unc,’ because I became the uncle of the school.”

When Alexander was a child, he was raised by a wonderful single grandmother, Carol Alexander, but says he missed out on having a positive male role model in his life.

“When I was in school, I was a little class clown,” Alexander said. “I’d like to crack jokes and talk a lot. My grandmother raised me, so I didn’t have either parent. I never had a male role model try to guide me when I needed to be guided. I feel like a lot of our young men need that. Education is a women-driven field, so I think young men sometimes need an adult male to guide them.”

He’s a proud member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and has found a mentor in Chatham-Carpenter.

“Dr. Carpenter was a great mentor at the university,” he said. “She’s met my oldest son since I’ve had to bring him to her office several times over the years. She has always been very understanding since I am not your typical student. We’ve always had great communication. She has been really great and fun too.”

Now Alexander and his fiancé, Leyonda Foote, have another son, Aceton, who will turn one the day after Alexander’s graduation.

“I’m a semi-professional rugby player, and I play on the U.S. Select South team,” Alexander said. “My fiancé complimented one of the photos I did for a rugby calendar. Since then, we’ve never been apart, except when I travel. It’s like it was meant to be. She’s always treated my son like he was hers. She helped out a lot too to keep me motivated and in school.”

In his new career, Alexander is looking forward to implementing new programs to help students learn and be more active.

“I’ve never the type to just stay stationary or complacent,” he said. “Dean of students is a couple of stages past where I was going to start at. I would like to move up in administration and add programs that could help students learn in the future and fun activities. I’m big on physical education. Maybe I’ll be a principal of my own school one day.”

In the upper right photo, Anthony Alexander will begin his job as dean of students at eStem Elementary School in Little Rock just two days after his graduation from UA Little Rock. Photo by Benjamin Krain.

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UA Little Rock grad is taking the Information Technology world by storm https://ualr.edu/news/2018/12/14/karen-watts-grad/ Fri, 14 Dec 2018 14:10:58 +0000 https://ualr.edu/news/?p=72973 As a sophomore information science major at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2010, Karen Watts of Bryant faced a difficult choice.  Watts is a single mother of two children with special needs, and the youngest, Gabe, now 11, was in and out of the hospital with health issues. “I have two boys […]

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As a sophomore information science major at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2010, Karen Watts of Bryant faced a difficult choice. 

Watts is a single mother of two children with special needs, and the youngest, Gabe, now 11, was in and out of the hospital with health issues.

“I have two boys with special needs, and one had health problems,” Watts said. “I wanted to stay in school, but I couldn’t do both. I had to leave after my first year at UA Little Rock. I got my cosmetology license, so I could work around my boys’ appointments and schedules.”

Inspired to help other families, Watts opened Artistik Salon, which catered toward children and adults with special needs. The business was even recognized by local broadcast station with a Pay It Forward Award.

“I had people travel from all over the state because they couldn’t go anywhere else to have their children’s hair cut,” Watts said. “A lot of the children have sensory issues, so it could easily be too loud or crowded, so I catered to each child that came in. It was really hard to close in 2017, but I really wanted to finish my degree. It was a really hard decision since I helped a lot of kids.”

Watts returned to UA Little Rock in 2016 and was accepted into the Accelerated BS to MS program, enabling her to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years. In addition, Watts took four graduate classes as a senior. When she graduates from UA Little Rock on Dec. 15, she will earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Science as well as a Graduate Certificate in Data Science.

At UA Little Rock, she is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, an ambassador for the College of Engineering and Information Technology, and a research assistant with the Collaboratorium of Social Media and Online Behavioral Studies (COSMOS), a research group led by Dr. Nitin Agarwal, Maulden-Entergy Endowed Chair and distinguished professor in the Department of Information Science. She credits Agarwal, Dr. Elizabeth Pierce, chair of the Department of Information Science, and all the information science professors with helping her succeed.

“Dr. Elizabeth Pierce and Dr. Nitin Agarwal are my mentors, but every professor I’ve had in information science has been wonderful and supportive. Dr. Pierce supported me going to different hackathons to gain skills and network. It’s been great to continue my research with Dr. Agarwal at COSMOS. It’s a big change from working at a salon.”

As part of her burgeoning hackathon career, Watts and her teammate, Michael DiCicco, beat out 28 other teams as the first place winner of CrimsonHacks in April for their multicurrency cryptocoin wallet called “Tweety Wallet.”

The prototype app retrieves tweets from Twitter with hashtags that correspond to cryptocurrency. The app then runs a sentiment analysis to determine if current views of the digital currency are positive or negative. This information helps users determine if they should buy, sell, or hang on to their digital currency.

In October, she also won the J.B. Hunt Use Case Award at the UA Blockchain Hackathon along with DiCicco and Brenda Nyangweso. Watts and her team, sudoIntellectual, created an electronic bill of lading system for J.B. Hunt that they named “Truck Hunt.” That led the team to travel to J.B. Hunt’s corporate headquarters in Lowell, Arkansas, where they made a presentation to the company’s executives. Watts has received a promising job offer from the company, which would allow her to work with emerging technologies.

“I stay busy, and I don’t sleep a lot,” Watts said of her hectic schedule. “It’s very important for my kids, Blakely, 12, and Gabe, 11. They are my life. Everything I have done is for them. I always knew I wanted to come back and finish my degree. The time came, and I was able to, and I hit the ground running. I’m the first woman in my family to get a college degree.”

Watts has also interned at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service for over a year, where she has completed some innovative information technology projects. She collaborated with her boss, Amy Cole, to develop the Arkansas Extension chatbot platform, VeggieBot, which is likely the first extension chatbot developed in the U.S. A chatbot is a computer program designed to simulate conversation with people.

In the case of VeggieBot, the chatbot will answer basic questions about gardening, which will free up time for the employees and provide a self-service channel that can respond at any time. Additionally, Watts created a new internal employee website. She also assisted in developing a new web app, replacing an outdated system, that assists Arkansas rice producers in managing their rice crops for a senior capstone project. She presented this project at the College of Engineering and Information Technology Open House in April and received the Mainstream Technologies Professional Presentation Award.

After completing her master’s degree in December 2019, Watts plans to earn a Ph.D. in computer and information science at UA Little Rock, where she will research strategies to fight disinformation campaigns online using blockchain technology with COSMOS.

“UA Little Rock has given me opportunities to be involved in a research group that opened a whole lot of new doors and helped me decide on my master’s degree,” she said. “The hackathons were another opportunity I wouldn’t have had outside UA Little Rock. I don’t know of any other schools that offer the 4+1 program where I could earn my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years and work on my graduate certificate during my senior year. The professors here are incredible and full of knowledge.”

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Bowen Law School grad plans to right rural wrongs with second career in legal aid https://ualr.edu/news/2018/12/14/cynthia-aikman-gradu/ Fri, 14 Dec 2018 14:05:45 +0000 https://ualr.edu/news/?p=72977 A U.S. Army veteran has plans to spend her “second act” helping local residents in her rural home county of Yell gain access to legal representation.  “The reason I went to law school is I want to do legal aid in my community,” said Cynthia Aikman, 55, of Bluffton. “We don’t have any legal aid […]

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A U.S. Army veteran has plans to spend her “second act” helping local residents in her rural home county of Yell gain access to legal representation. 

“The reason I went to law school is I want to do legal aid in my community,” said Cynthia Aikman, 55, of Bluffton. “We don’t have any legal aid services in Yell County. The closest one is an hour away. It is a major problem for this rural county, so that’s my goal.”

Aikman will graduate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law on Dec. 15. Although she already has an MBA, Aikman was inspired to attend law school after seeing so many changes that hurt her local community.

“Our school district consolidated after 50 years. We thought we were protected because we were so isolated. Kids are on the school bus up to two hours each way,” Aikman said. “There is also the whole cell tower issue. I testified in front of our state senators about how not having cell phone coverage affects our lives, and we need it more than anyone. We are away from our houses doing possibly dangerous jobs in agriculture, and we can’t dial 911. Many of our rural post offices were closed. All of this stuff was happening, and I decided I needed to go to law school to get on the other side of things. I am just trying to right some of these rural wrongs. I’ve learned a lot. I might even run for legislature one day.”

While starting law school with the best of intentions in 2013, Aikman was forced to leave after a year due to health problems.

“I have Lupus, and stress is a trigger,” she said. “Everyone in my family was worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it. The second time, I decided I am going to do it for fun, and I won’t be stressed out. The Disability Resource Center had lots of ideas. I wasn’t trying to be the top of the class. I was just in it to learn it.”

Living nearly two hours away, Aikman drove in weekly and stayed with her daughter on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights so she could attend night classes at Bowen. While in law school, she was a member of the Christian Legal Society, where she ran a multi-year Bible study, as well as the Black Law Students Association and Outlaw, a student organization dedicated to promoting diversity, raising awareness of legal issues affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) people, and maintaining an open atmosphere of respect, equality, and justice for all.

“Cindy is loved by her fellow students and respected by her professors,” said Jessie Burchfield, Bowen’s associate dean for information and technology services. “In the fall semester of 2018, she volunteered over 200 hours at the Center for Arkansas Legal Services. Her passion is to provide pro bono services to those who need legal help and can’t afford it.”

Aikman said she loved working pro-bono cases for people in need but found the experience eye opening.

“It’s crazy what the full-time lawyers take care of. The lawyer I worked for probably had 80 cases at any one time,” she said. “There are so many cases coming in, and there is such a need for it. You knock out case after case after case. Anyone who volunteers there wants to work in legal aid because you see such a need for it.”

Aikman credits Sarah Jenkins, Charles C. Baum Distinguished Professor of Law, and Burchfield, who have both served as advisors to the Christian Legal Society, for serving as her mentors at Bowen.

“They made themselves available to all the students and especially everyone who was in the club,” she said. “They would take us to lunch if any of the students had any problems. When students have personal problems, they show up, and they are interested. They are accessible, and they are sincere.”

In January, Aikman will begin a two-month course to help her study for the bar exam, which she will take later in the semester. As she reflects on her time at Bowen, she is sad to see that part of her life come to an end, but excited to start the next chapter in her career.

“I just loved every minute at Bowen,” Aikman said. “I loved all my classes and all my professors. I would recommend it to anyone. You are never too old to change careers, and law is a good one.”

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UA Little Rock’s Agarwal named Arkansas Research Alliance Fellow https://ualr.edu/news/2018/12/13/ara-fellow/ Thu, 13 Dec 2018 19:53:16 +0000 https://ualr.edu/news/?p=72947 Dr. Nitin Agarwal, a distinguished professor of Information Science Department and head of the university’s Collaboratorium for Social Media and Online Behavioral Studies (COSMOS), was one of six new Arkansas Research Alliance Fellows announced Thursday, Dec. 13, during a news conference at the Arkansas State Capitol. The ARA Fellows program, launched in 2014, recognizes research leaders […]

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Dr. Nitin Agarwal, a distinguished professor of Information Science Department and head of the university’s Collaboratorium for Social Media and Online Behavioral Studies (COSMOS), was one of six new Arkansas Research Alliance Fellows announced Thursday, Dec. 13, during a news conference at the Arkansas State Capitol.

The ARA Fellows program, launched in 2014, recognizes research leaders who are currently working in Arkansas at one of the state’s five research campuses: University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of Arkansas, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Arkansas State University, and also from the National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Arkansas, the only Food and Drug Administration lab located outside the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. ARA Fellows from university campuses receive a $75,000 grant.

The ARA Fellows program was created to advance the mission of ARA by supporting world-class researchers whose work strengthens the competitiveness of the state through research. ARA Fellows focus on innovations in biomedical engineering, plant biochemistry, nanoscience, microbiology, nutritional improvements, electronics research and more, often resulting in a direct impact on the state’s economy.

The alliance is celebrating 10 years of making research matter in Arkansas.

“ARA impacts our state in so many positive ways, from increasing the amount of federal research funds available in Arkansas to accelerating the commercialization timetable, to connecting research to our established businesses,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said.

Agarwal joined UA Little Rock’s Department of Information Science in August 2009. In 2013, he received early tenure and promotion to associate professor. In July 2015, he was awarded the Jerry L. Maulden-Entergy Endowed Chair Professor of Information Science based on his outstanding contributions to his discipline. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from Arizona State University. In 2012, Arkansas Business included Agarwal in its list of “Top 20 Influentials in their 20s,” and in 2017 the Arkansas Times featured Dr. Agarwal in its special issue on “Visionary Arkansas: A Celebration of Arkansans with ideas and achievements of transformative power.”

Agarwal is highly respected for his social media research. He has collaborated with and received funding from influential national and international organizations such as NATO, the U.S. Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Research Lab, the U.S. Army Research Office, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research and Projects Agency, and the National Science Foundation. His recent research includes studying how governments and groups such as ISIS use social media to spread deviant messages, conduct propaganda campaigns, and influence opinions, behavior, and media coverage.

For his contributions to industry, academia, and research, Agarwal also was nominated as a fellow to the International Academy, Research and Industry Association in 2017. Earlier this year, he was selected as a member of the U.S. State Department’s Tech Demo program to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation. Agarwal and COSMOS researchers will showcase technologies like Blogtrackers and YouTube trackers, one of COSMOS’ latest applications. These applications track information providers and narratives as misinformation is disseminated through social media networks including blogs, YouTube, and Twitter. The research is the result of projects supported by millions of dollars in federal grants.

The other newly named ARA Fellows include the following:

  • Jingyi Chen, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UA
  • Steven Foley, Ph.D., Deputy Director, Division of Microbiology, NCTR
  • Xiuzhen Huang, Ph.D., Professor of Computer Science, A-State
  • Clint Kilts, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychiatry, UAMS
  • Mansour Mortazavi, Ph.D., Professor and Vice Chancellor, UAPB

The six new ARA Fellows join existing ARA Scholars and Fellows in the ARA Academy of Scholars and Fellows, now 26 members strong.

“ARA Fellows are nominated by their respective institutions,” said Jerry Adams, ARA president and chief executive officer. “We are honored to have these immensely talented researchers join the ARA Academy of Scholars and Fellows.”

In the top right photo,  Dr. Nitin Agarwal and his parents are pictured with Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

 

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Innovative Collaboration equals success for Award-winning STEM Starters+ Program https://ualr.edu/news/2018/12/13/innovative-collaboration-stem-starters-program/ Thu, 13 Dec 2018 19:30:31 +0000 https://ualr.edu/news/?p=72960 Researchers at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the Museum of Science, Boston, are being recognized for the success of their collaborative project to bring engineering curricula coupled with biographies of famous scientists and engineers to elementary school students in Arkansas.  STEM Starters+ is a five-year, $2.5 million research and demonstration funded by […]

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Researchers at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the Museum of Science, Boston, are being recognized for the success of their collaborative project to bring engineering curricula coupled with biographies of famous scientists and engineers to elementary school students in Arkansas. 

STEM Starters+ is a five-year, $2.5 million research and demonstration funded by the U.S. Department of Education. It began with researchers introducing talent spotting, engineering curricula, and engaging biographies into four Arkansas school districts with high rates of culturally diverse and low-income children. Those school districts included Cabot, El Dorado, Little Rock, and the Pulaski County Special School District.

Dr. Ann Robinson, director of the Jodie Mahony Center for Gifted Education at UA Little Rock, led the project as principal investigator in collaboration with Dr. Christine Cunningham of the Museum of Science, Boston. She was joined by project director Kristy Kidd of UA Little Rock and external evaluator Dr. Jill Adelson of the Talent Identification Program (TIP) at Duke University.

Studies conducted by the collaborators have shown that students who participate in the STEM Starters+ not only develop a greater understanding of engineering, but they also learn more science and are more highly engaged in learning. Teachers learn to spot academic talents in increased numbers of primary-grade students.

“In K-12 education, we often measure success by achievement, but we should also measure our effectiveness by how engaged children are,” Robinson said. “This project has engaged children and teachers profoundly. That is how you know you have hit the sweet spot, when learning is fun, collaborative, and creative and improves science scores and engineering knowledge. It is wonderful when classroom experiences increase engagement for teachers and students.”

Robinson, Adelson, and Cunningham recently learned they received the Senior Investigator Research Paper Award from the Mensa Foundation. The foundation’s Awards for Excellence in Research are given internationally for outstanding research on intelligence, intellectual giftedness, and related fields.

In April, the researchers received the Michael Pyryt Collaboration Award at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association in New York City for their paper, “A Talent for Tinkering: Developing Talents in Children From Low-Income Households Through Engineering Curriculum.” The award recognizes the work of a scholar who researches giftedness and an influential collaborator who has no previously published scholarship associated with giftedness, creativity, or talent.

Dr. Christine Cunningham
Dr. Christine Cunningham

Additionally, the Jodie Mahony Center and the STEM Starters+ program were featured in a short film on exemplary programs produced last year by the National Science Teachers Association.

The Cabot School District, one of four districts in Arkansas to collaborate with UA Little Rock, has seen tremendous success with the STEM Starters+ program. First-grade and gifted and talented education specialists at Westside Elementary, Southside Elementary, Magness Creek Elementary, and Cabot Middle School South were trained to implement the STEM Starters+ Project.

“The level of engagement from our students while using these units has been remarkable,” said Aaron Randolph, director of Gifted and Advanced Placement Programs at Cabot Public Schools. “Due to the success we’ve had implementing this curricula into our five targeted schools, our G/T program will be implementing one EiE unit per grade level for the 2018-19 school year.”

STEM Starters+ teachers receive a biography of an engineer, inventor, or scientist whose ideas are linked to the EiE units. Additionally, teachers receive a curriculum guide, “Blueprints for Biography,” which includes complex discussion questions, enrichment activities, and a science investigation or engineering design challenge.

“If young children can ‘see’ the scientist or engineer, they respond so much better to the research behind the life,” Robinson said. “We took interesting trade biographies and then created teacher curriculum guides. ‘Blueprints for Biography’ shows kids the life behind the invention or the life behind the discovery and makes engineering and science very personal for children.”

Some examples of the Engineering is Elementary units included in the STEM Starters+ project are “Sounds Like Fun: Seeing Animal Sounds,” which focuses on the design of a visual representation for various bird sounds, as well as “Lighten Up: Designing Lighting Systems,” which culminates with the design and creation of a lighting system for a tomb of hieroglyphs.

“I love the structure and flow of the lessons,” said Joyce Dalton, a gifted and talented education specialist at Southside Elementary. “My students love the content and hands-on experiences. From discovering how real scientists look, to learning about what engineers do and don’t do, to meeting a real engineer, I see my students making progress in so many ways. They come to think of themselves as engineers because they are thinking like engineers. I see excitement as they build the projects and test them, and I see impressive science scores on the state test.”

Aaron Randolph
Aaron Randolph

Kristy Kidd, Dr. Christine Deitz, and other staff members from the Jodie Mahony Center hosted trainings and workshops for Cabot educators focusing on the curricular components of STEM Starters+ as well as the use of the components to identify and develop talent in young students. The Museum of Science, Boston developed the engineering units used in the STEM Starters+ project. The EiE units use a cross disciplinary and hands-on approach to introduce the engineering design process to elementary students.

Robinson attributes the success of STEM Starters+ to the development of an effective collaboration among teachers, researchers, educational specialists, school districts, and agencies to establish effective STEM opportunities in schools.

“This collaboration was a perfect match of enthusiasm, expertise, and commitment. It just shows how powerful collaboration can be when it works,” Robinson said. “Dr. Cunningham brought her wealth of knowledge in engineering education. The Mahony Center brought its developed curriculum and teacher training knowledge. Our research methodologist, Dr. Jill Adelson, brought an understanding of early childhood education and a really powerful skill set for the analysis of classroom data in rigorously designed field studies. The final collaborators are our very effective school administrators who go above and beyond what a research and demonstration project requires. Leadership is what makes this collaboration work.”

The program is currently in the fifth year of its research and development cycle, but two of the participating school districts have already expanded the program to additional schools.

“At this phase of the project, we have worked with four school districts, and two school districts took the project district wide rather than in experimental schools only,” Robinson said. “You want projects like this to have a life beyond federal funding. Collaboration with school partners allows STEM Starters+ to be sustainable. I have no doubt that our partnership will continue to collaborate long beyond the life of the current grant. With universities, schools, and a museum working together, kids and teachers benefit from educational innovation.”

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Faculty members, campus organizations honored as ‘Awesome Allies’ https://ualr.edu/news/2018/12/13/alliance-awesome-allies/ Thu, 13 Dec 2018 18:39:20 +0000 https://ualr.edu/news/?p=72955 University of Arkansas at Little Rock professors and campus organizations were honored as “Awesome Allies” by The Alliance during an awards ceremony on Dec. 12.  The Alliance is a student organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or questioning (LGBTQ) students and allies to come together in an open environment to discuss topics related to both […]

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University of Arkansas at Little Rock professors and campus organizations were honored as “Awesome Allies” by The Alliance during an awards ceremony on Dec. 12. 

The Alliance is a student organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or questioning (LGBTQ) students and allies to come together in an open environment to discuss topics related to both gay and straight communities. “Awesome Allies” are faculty members and campus offices who have shown support through LGBTQ inclusive curriculum, classroom behavior, or campus practices.

Dr. Juliana Flinn, professor of anthropology, and Dr. Rachel Tennial, assistant professor of psychology, were named “Awesome Allies” for their gender-inclusive curriculum and classroom activities.

“I feel honored,” Flinn said. “I didn’t know I did anything special, so it feels like an extra honor.”

“By choosing to honor these faculty members, we are hoping to inspire other faculty to include more gender-inclusive classroom activities in their curriculum,” said Bee Chaney, a junior psychology major and president of The Alliance.

The Alliance also honored campus organizations Safe Zone and the UA Little Rock Student Social Work Organization.

“We are honoring Safe Zone for their commitment to employee education on LGBTQ issues and the Student Social Work Organization for partnering with us to hold a successful Little Rock Pride Fest booth in October,” Chaney said.

Safe Zone provides training about LGBTQ issues and safe zones where individuals affected by homophobia, hateful acts, and sexual violence can safely go for support and assistance from trained faculty and staff. Meanwhile, the Student Social Work Organization’s mission is to represent, lead, and unify the student body with the School of Social Work.

All of the “Awesome Allies” award recipients received a rainbow cord to wear during commencement.

The Alliance holds meetings every Wednesday from 3-4 p.m. in Donaghey Student Center 201T, where participants discuss campus education, activism, and fundraising opportunities. Additionally, the group meets Tuesdays from 6-8 p.m. to provide a safe space for students to socialize.

The Alliance is fundraising to send four students to the Creating Change Conference in Detroit in January 2019 to learn about LGBTQ initiatives that can be brought to campus. Donations can be made online at Facebook.com/UALRsAlliance.

In the upper right photo, Bee Chaney, president of The Alliance, recognizes Dr. Juliana Flinn as an “Awesome Ally.”

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Block, Beer & Bourbon returns in January to raise funds for public radio https://ualr.edu/news/2018/12/13/block-beer-bourbon-public-radio/ Thu, 13 Dec 2018 18:21:12 +0000 https://ualr.edu/news/?p=72952 The Friends of KLRE/KUAR will host the third annual Block, Beer & Bourbon event on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, to celebrate public radio and to raise funds for UA Little Rock Public Radio stations KUAR FM 89.1 and KLRE Classical 90.5. This year’s Block, Beer & Bourbon will take place 7-9:30 p.m. at the Albert […]

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The Friends of KLRE/KUAR will host the third annual Block, Beer & Bourbon event on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, to celebrate public radio and to raise funds for UA Little Rock Public Radio stations KUAR FM 89.1 and KLRE Classical 90.5.

This year’s Block, Beer & Bourbon will take place 7-9:30 p.m. at the Albert Pike Masonic Center, 712 Scott St., in downtown Little Rock. Block, Beer & Bourbon showcases jazz artist Rodney Block, who will perform with the Rodney Block Collective, as well as a curated selection of beers and bourbons from O’Looney’s Wine and Liquor and food from The Pantry.

This year’s event features a pre-party VIP reception from 6-7 p.m., a tour of the historic Albert Pike Masonic Center building, and exclusive tastes of extra rare bourbons and beers.

“Block, Beer & Bourbon is a time to get together after the holidays and celebrate the support of our generous listening community,” Interim General Manager Nathan Vandiver said. “Public radio’s value comes from its steadfast focus on providing its listeners and its community with meaningful news, information and music that informs and educates. I look forward to celebrating that service with our listeners and our generous community partners Rodney Block, O’Looney’s Wine and Liquor and The Pantry.”

Proceeds from Block, Beer & Bourbon support programming and operations of the two listener-supported public radio stations licensed to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Nearly 70 percent of KUAR’s and KLRE’s funding comes from listeners and businesses.

General admission tickets are $75, while VIP Tickets are $150. Tables and sponsorships are also available. For more information, contact Vanessa McKuin at 501-569-8485 or vanessa@kuar.org. Purchase tickets or tables at events.kuar.org.

UA Little Rock Public Radio is a public service of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Its two stations, KUAR FM 89.1 and KLRE Classical 90.5, provide news and cultural programming to 84,000 people each week throughout Arkansas. KUAR is central Arkansas’s NPR station, and KLRE is the only radio station is Arkansas dedicated to classical music programming.

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Grad is archiving the past while looking towards the future https://ualr.edu/news/2018/12/13/grad-crystal-shurley/ Thu, 13 Dec 2018 17:42:19 +0000 https://ualr.edu/news/?p=72949 The thought of attending graduate school while working full time and raising a family is daunting for many, but Crystal Shurley has found a way to thrive in that situation. Growing up both on the west coast and in Mena, Arkansas, Shurley and her husband first met when they were 11 years old. They began […]

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The thought of attending graduate school while working full time and raising a family is daunting for many, but Crystal Shurley has found a way to thrive in that situation.

Growing up both on the west coast and in Mena, Arkansas, Shurley and her husband first met when they were 11 years old. They began dating at 15 and remain together 23 years later.

Today, they’ve settled down in Little Rock where Shurley works as both an archivist at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and a graduate assistant at UA Little Rock’s Center for Arkansas History and Culture, while her husband, a disabled veteran, stays at home and takes care of their four children. This semester, she will graduate with a Master of Arts in public history.

“The people in the history department have been so incredibly supportive during my whole time here. They’ve also allowed me the time to be supportive to both my kids and my husband even though I’ve been in a full-time program.” explained Shurley.

Outside of her family life, Shurley is a career archivist who’s thankful for the many unique historical opportunities that the city of Little Rock provides.

“My thesis supervisor, Dr. Brian Mitchell, and I have been working on a really undocumented part of Arkansas history, the Arkansas Colored Auxiliary Council, which was an early activist group that was active during World War I.”

As a non-traditional student, Shurley is especially thankful that UA Little Rock provided ample opportunities for her to finish her education and find something she was passionate about.

“I was a stay-at-home mom for 10 years,” Shurley said. ”When I did decide to go back to school, we were always on the move. I took a class with Dr. Edward Anson, and he really got me hooked on both the subject and the department. After I finished my bachelor’s in 2012, I went to work and eventually decided to further my education even more.”

After graduation, Shurley plans to use her new degree to advance in her career and gain new skills. Her first priority is to take the Certified Archivist Exam.

During her time at UA Little Rock, Shurley has not only discovered her own passion for archiving and history, but has also become a valuable participant in the university’s research.

“As a soon to be graduate, Ms. Shurley has been a very assiduous student, always working towards exceeding expectations,” said Adrienne Jones, research and scholarly communication archivist for the Center for Arkansas History and Culture. “I am confident that the academic leadership, self-established goals, and acquired skills she displayed and gained during graduate school have prepared her for the next step in her career. Her drive and enthusiasm to learn and challenge herself will put her on a very successful career trajectory.”

For any students who are considering going back to school, Shurley offers these words of encouragement.

“At the Center for Arkansas History and Culture, the expectations for you are the same as anyone else, but the university is very considerate to your needs,” she said. “If I needed to have my kids there in class with me, there were no issues. And if anyone wants to get into archiving, this is the place to do it!”

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UA Little Rock commencement ceremonies set for Dec. 15 https://ualr.edu/news/2018/12/12/ua-little-rock-commencement-ceremonies-set-for-dec-15/ Wed, 12 Dec 2018 21:20:20 +0000 https://ualr.edu/news/?p=72944 The University of Arkansas at Little Rock will host the Fall 2018 commencement ceremony on Dec. 15, 2018, in the UA Little Rock Jack Stephens Center, located at South University Avenue and 28th Street. An estimated 1,234 students who completed degree requirements in the summer or fall are eligible to participate in commencement. The commencement […]

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The University of Arkansas at Little Rock will host the Fall 2018 commencement ceremony on Dec. 15, 2018, in the UA Little Rock Jack Stephens Center, located at South University Avenue and 28th Street.

An estimated 1,234 students who completed degree requirements in the summer or fall are eligible to participate in commencement.

The commencement ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. and last about 90 minutes. Professor Lynn Foster from the William H. Bowen School of Law and the winner of the 2018 University Faculty Excellence Award For Teaching will be the guest speaker.

The Jack Stephens Center will open to guests at 8 a.m. The center is accessible off 28th Street via Fair Park Boulevard or University Avenue. Guests are encouraged to park in the lots nearest the center — Lot 13, Lot 14, and Lot 16. All interior campus parking lots will be open during commencement.

A special seating area in the Jack Stephens Center is available for guests with disabilities. For more information, please visit the Disability Resource Center.

Photo by Benjamin Krain

 

 

 

 

 

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