Henderson State held its inaugural Foundation Scholarship Reception Sept. 24. More than 250 students received scholarship support through the generosity of alumni and friends of the university. The reception provided the opportunity for many donors to meet their scholarship recipients. VIEW MORE PHOTOS
Academy of Scholars inducts three
— From left: Amanda Jones, Shannon Curtin and Joyce Craft
Henderson State University inducted three alumni into the Academy of Scholars Aug. 25 during a convocation ceremony in Arkansas Hall. The Academy is comprised of Henderson graduates who have gained distinction in their professional fields. Faculty excellence awards were also presented.
Joining the academy this year are Amanda Smith Jones, Joyce Littleton Craft, and Shannon Curtin.
Amanda Jones has been an educator for 15 years and currently teaches at Poyen High School. She was most recently invited to the White House to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching, which is the highest honor for math and science teaching.
Jones, who graduated summa cum laude from Henderson with a biology degree, was named Arkansas’s Outstanding Biology Teacher of the Year in 2012, and Grant County Teacher of the Year in 2005. She served as Arkansas Senior Beta Club State Sponsor from 2013-2015.
Jones has collaborated with Vanderbilt University’s Aspirnaut Program to build an on-site afterschool science program for students in third grade through high school. She also mentors the robotics team and spearheads the Poyen Academic Banquet. Jones developed an ACT prep course for students and works closely with participants to prepare them for college.
She earned her M.Ed. in secondary education and science curriculum from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where she received the dean’s award.
Joyce Craft is currently transitioning from superintendent of the Hot Springs School District to retirement. She began her educational career with the Hot Springs School District as a classroom teacher and went on to become an assistant principal, interim principal, interim director of the Arkansas School for Mathematics and Sciences, and assistant superintendent. She was named superintendent in 2007.
Craft holds a master’s degree from Henderson State, and bachelor of science degree from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. She continued graduate studies at Memphis State University, UALR, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and Ouachita Baptist University.
Craft is active in many community and civic organizations, as well as state level professional organizations.
Shannon Curtin is group vice president and general merchandising manager for beauty and personal care at Walgreens corporate headquarters in Deerfield, Illinois. Curtin’s team is responsible for purchasing the beauty and personal care merchandise for Walgreen’s 8,229 stores.
Curtin, who earned a B.A. in business from Henderson State in 1999, joined Walgreens in 2009 after working for Walmart in Bentonville. She began her beauty career selling prestige fragrance in her hometown department store. Since then, she has held numerous merchandising positions.
Curtin serves on the board of CEW, and is a member of the Chicago Art Institute Auxiliary Board. In 2013, Beauty Inc. named Curtin one of its “Top 40 under 40,” and MMR noted her as one of the “Most Influential Women in Retail,” both in 2013 and 2014.
Diversity Magazine named Curtin to its 2014 Women Worth Watching List, and she was named one of the “50 Most Influential People in Beauty” by Women’s Wear Daily.
Wewers establish $200,000 in endowments
Inspired by the educational opportunities offered at their alma mater, two Henderson State University graduates have established two scholarship endowments at the university. Chris and Debra Wewers of Little Rock donated a total of $200,000 for scholarships to assist full-time students at Henderson State.
“Educational opportunities and empowerment are the cornerstones to improving our cities, our state, our country and our world,” said Chris Wewers. “Debra and I are excited at the opportunity to give back to Henderson State in support of these efforts.”
Chris Wewers is chief financial officer for Southern Bancorp and a member of the Henderson State University Foundation Board of Directors. He graduated from Henderson in 1992 with an accounting degree. The Christopher M. Wewers Scholarship Endowment will benefit students in Henderson’s School of Business.
Debra Wewers is a 1993 graduate of Henderson with a degree in elementary education. The Debra L. Nutt Wewers Scholarship Endowment benefits students studying education in Teachers College, Henderson.
“Chris and I have discussed how we could give back to Henderson, recognizing the importance of education and empowerment and their ability to positively change individuals and families forever,” Debra Wewers said. “In endowing these scholarships, we are putting our words and thoughts into action by creating opportunities for generations to come.”
“We know firsthand the tremendous springboard these types of funds can provide to students as both of us were blessed to earn scholarships that helped us earn our degrees,” Chris Wewers said. “The impact that had on our lives is immeasurable and instilled in us a commitment to ‘pay it forward.’”
Henderson President Glen Jones thanked the Wewers for their investment in the potential of both the university and future students.
“The Wewers know the value of their degrees and have decided to invest in current and future generations of students who seek to obtain a higher education from Henderson,” Jones said. “We are deeply grateful for their generosity toward students in the School of Business and Teachers College.”
Students can apply for these and other privately funded scholarships available through the HSU Foundation at the start of the spring semester. The HSU Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides private support to the students, faculty and staff of Henderson through scholarships, programmatic endowments and annual gifts.
“Establishing a scholarship endowment through the HSU Foundation is a wonderful way to provide perpetual financial assistance to deserving students,” said Jennifer Boyett, executive director of the foundation. The foundation awards more than $360,000 in privately funded scholarship support annually.
The couple agreed that their personal experience at Henderson and their volunteer work with the university’s foundation showed them that endowments make a difference in the lives of students.
“Serving on the Business Advisory Council and the HSU Foundation Board of Directors has also given me additional perspectives on how broad an impact something like this can have,” Chris Wewers said.
“Henderson has an excellent track record of equipping teachers and business people alike, and these funds will help ensure the legacy continues,” said Debra Wewers.
Henderson alum completes leadership program
Phillip Turner, a 2014 graduate of Henderson State University, was one of 12 students this spring completing the Emerging Leaders Program sponsored by Wal-Mart. The national program places minority undergraduate students in an internship on Capitol Hill or in a federal agency, offering first-hand experience in public policymaking and professional development.
Students attend lectures and networking seminars, gain training in legislative writing and research skills, and receive mentoring.
Turner, a public administration/business major, interned for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and will soon start graduate school.
HSU alum to lead state’s computer science effort
The Arkansas Department of Education has named a Henderson State alumnus as its new coordinator of computer science.
Anthony Owen received a B.S. in mathematics with a minor in education and computer science from Henderson in 2005. He also earned his master of science in educational leadership from Henderson in 2007.
Owen went on to receive a juris doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law in 2013.
In his new role, which begins July 1, Owen will serve as the leader of the state’s computer science initiative. He will help schools integrate new computer science standards and courses, and assist with the recruitment of computer science teachers.
Owen has served as the department’s K-12 math and computer science curriculum specialist since 2011, and also serves as the state coordinator of mathematics for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
Golf tourney supports foundation scholarship
A golf tournament to support the Christopher Castleberry Memorial Foundation Business Scholarship will be held May 23 at DeGray Lake Golf Course. Tee-time for the two-man scramble is 9 a.m.
The foundation awards an annual scholarship to a senior at Fountain Lake High School and a business student at Henderson State University. Castleberry was a 2006 graduate of Henderson State who died in 2010. All proceeds from the tournament benefit these scholarships.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
New scholarship honors Staffords
A scholarship honoring Ellis and Beatrice Stafford has been established and will be awarded annually to Gurdon High School seniors planning to attend Henderson State University.
Beatrice Stafford graduated from high school in Gurdon when she was 16, and was a 1961 Henderson graduate with a degree in elementary education. She earned her master’s degree in 1971. Ellis Stafford also attended Gurdon schools and worked for Missouri Pacific Railroad for many years.
The scholarships were established by two of their children: Harold Stafford, a 1970 Henderson graduate, and Phillip Stafford.
The inaugural Ellis and Beatrice Stafford Scholarships were awarded to four Gurdon seniors May 7 during an awards assembly at the school. The recipients are Susana Loarca, Alia Williams, Angela Yang, and Tykeida Jones.
Beatrice Stafford attended segregated schools in a one-room school building in Gurdon. After graduating from high school, she attended Arkansas AM&N in Pine Bluff. But lack of funds brought her back home after one year. She married Ellis Stafford in 1941.
Beatrice was employed as a domestic worker until 1954 when she was hired by the Gurdon hospital to cook, clean, and do other tasks. She soon returned to college. After graduation, she taught at Bell High School for Black Students. After the integration of Gurdon public schools in 1970, she taught there until her retirement.
In 2000, Beatrice was inducted into the Gurdon School District’s Hall of Fame for her achievements in educational excellence. She died on March 18, 2015.
Ellis Stafford left school when he was in sixth grade following the sudden death of his parents. He entered the job market to help care for his siblings and himself. In 1941, after his marriage to Beatrice, Ellis went to work for Missouri Pacific Railroad.
He was laid off from the railroad in 1950 and went to work at the Reynolds Aluminum plant in Gum Springs. He was soon called back to Missouri Pacific, where he worked until he retired in 1982 as a maintenance foreman. Ellis died on Feb. 8, 2009.
Alumnus president-elect of pediatrics association
Dr. Richard F. Jacobs, a 1973 graduate of Henderson State, is president-elect of the Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs (AMSPDC). Jacobs is the Robert Fiser Jr. MD Endowed Chair in Pediatrics and professor and chair of the department of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
At Henderson, Jacobs earned his B.S. degree in biology, and was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, ROTC, and student government. He was honored as a distinguished alumnus in 2003.
Jacobs is also pediatrician-in-chief at Arkansas Children’s Hospital where he is an infectious disease physician who sees pediatric patients in inpatient and outpatient settings. In addition, he teaches third- and fourth-year medical students, residents, and physicians at UAMS.
Jacobs participates in two NIH-funded clinical research projects: the antiviral study group and the pediatric pharmacology research unit network. In May 2008, ACH and UAMS held an investiture ceremony to name Jacobs as the inaugural recipient and steward of the Robert H. Fiser Jr. MD Endowed Chair in Pediatrics.
He has been affiliated with ACH and UAMS since 1982.
The mission of the AMSPDC is to pursue optimal health of children through the development of successful academic pediatric departments across North America.
Johnson receives Westminster scholarship
Shayla Arlean Johnson, a 2010 graduate of Henderson State University, has received a Westminster Kennel Foundation scholarship. She is currently studying veterinary medicine at the Tuskegee University in Alabama.
While attending Henderson, Johnson worked at three different veterinary clinics in Arkansas. She had always had a love for animals and knew that she would become a veterinarian.
In June 2014, she traveled to Nicaragua for one week with World Vets to spay and neuter stray cats and dogs in the rural region of Grenada. She also assisted in a summer research project while taking an online course on animal welfare and canine rehabilitation.
As a third year veterinarian student, Johnson has been involved in numerous on-campus organizations, such as American Association of Equine Practitioners, Veterinary Business Management Association, Student Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society, while holding executive positions.
Johnson is also deeply involved in the local humane society of Macon County, organizing adoption fairs and fostering rescued strays. She is interested in being a mixed practitioner, focusing on companion medicine and incorporating equine medicine into her practice.
Johnson is one of six veterinary students selected by their school to receive the Westminster scholarship. She received the award in February at the Westminster Dog Show in New York City.
The Foundation has awarded $1.34 million in 139 veterinary school scholarships, now valued at $15,000, to students since 1990. The Foundation was established in 1971 as a charitable trust organized for the benefit of humane education, humane work, and history, art and memorabilia.
Henderson celebrates Founder’s Day
— Joining the Henderson State Academy of Scholars are, from left: Lori Stewart, Chris Horton, and Dr. Johnnie Roebuck.
Henderson State University celebrated Founder’s Day with an academic convocation on Oct. 2. Three alumni were inducted into the Henderson Academy of Scholars, which is comprised of Henderson graduates who have gained distinction in their professional fields. Joining the academy this year are: Chris Horton, Dr. Johnnie Roebuck, and Lori Stewart.
Faculty excellence awards were presented to: Dr. Bernie Hellums (Teachers College), Michael Taylor (fine arts), Dr. Steven Todd (liberal arts), Janice O’Donnell (science and mathematics), Dr. Ajay Aggarwal (School of Business), and Dr. David Bateman (Outstanding New Faculty Member).
Chris Horton is the Midwestern States director for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF). He works with the established state sportsmen’s caucuses in the Midwest region by providing counsel and information on legislation and assists in management and infrastructure development within the caucuses to increase efficiency and effectiveness.
Horton received his B.S. in biology from Henderson in 1995 and his M.S. in fisheries science from the University of Arizona in 1997. Horton, his wife Kim and two children live in Bismarck.
Horton serves as point of contact for inquiries from legislators and conservation organizations interested in establishing state caucuses. He also serves as a liaison for the Midwestern regional members of the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus (GSC); assists the caucuses and governors with identifying and addressing priority issues; provides comments on behalf of CSF to federal policy proposals in the 16-state region; and performs many other duties.
Horton served as associate director of conservation for the Bass Angler’s Sportsmen Society (B.A.S.S.) from 2003 to 2007 and as conservation director from 2007 to 2010. As associate director, he served as the company’s fisheries biologist, assisting with tournament fish care and fish health issues, and he worked with state and federal agencies on regulatory proposals and aquatic habitat projects.
As director of conservation, he served as the company’s point of contact on aquatic resource conservation issues and represented B.A.S.S. and its 500,000 members on several national boards and committees.
Dr. Johnnie Roebuck
Dr. Johnnie Roebuck, while serving as a special education teacher and administrator, earned her master of science degree in education in counseling at Henderson State University. While serving as special education supervisor at the Dawson Education Cooperative, she realized she could help her students best by returning to college to prepare for developing school leaders. After earning her educational specialist and doctor of education degrees from the University of Arkansas, she was hired by Henderson in 1990.
Roebuck was instrumental in securing a grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation that formed a P-16 partnership with service-area public schools to improve teaching strategies and the development of school leaders. Originally known as the Teacher Professional Development Partnership, the highly successful partnership is now self-supporting and is known as the HSU Partners in Education.
Before her retirement from Henderson in 2007, she served as a professor, dean of the Graduate School, and coordinator of the Educational Leadership Program. Among her many accomplishments at Henderson was developing the program for the M.S.E. in Educational Leadership and helping gain approval for the Education Specialist in Educational Leadership.
Roebuck served two terms in the Arkansas House of Representatives where she was a distinguished leader. One of her many successes was legislation establishing the Arkansas Professional Licensure Standards Board for educators. The board established the Arkansas Code of Ethics for Educators and the procedures for receiving, considering and investigating complaints. During her final term in the House, she served as majority leader. In fall 2011, she sponsored landmark legislation that resulted in the Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS). TESS is receiving national recognition.
Appointed by Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, Roebuck serves on the Southern Regional Education Board. She remains actively engaged in the improvement of educator preparation.
Lori Stewart is a lifelong resident of Arkadelphia with deep ties to Henderson State University. Henderson is a family tradition. Both of her parents attended Henderson in the late 1940s.
Stewart graduated from Henderson with a business management degree in 1987. Her husband Randy graduated in 1986, and her daughter Spenser O’Brien graduated in 2011. Her son Jacob also attended Henderson.
Stewart has been in the housing industry for 37 years. Her career began in the property management business managing and/or owning private, commercial and subsidized properties including USDA Rural Development, HUD, Tax Credit and HOME programs. In 2003, Stewart Properties was organized, and Stewart acquired an Arkansas Brokers License and formed Stewart Real Estate.
Other associated businesses include: Stewart Construction of Arkansas; Stewart Farms; and Stewart Services.
Stewart is a director and current president of the Affordable Housing Association of Arkansas, founding board member of CASA of Clark County, past president of Clark County Home Builders, and currently serves on the HSU Business Advisory Council.