September 6, 2013
SAU President Dr. David Rankin, standing fifth from left, accepts a fishing boat from SAU alum Fred Eason, sixth from left, recently in front of the SAU Science Center. Eason’s boat donation makes SAU’s fishing team the only other college fishing team besides UofA that has a fishing boat. Also pictured are SAU fishermen, sitting in the boat from the left, John Wofford, Kevin Roberts and Will Reeder; standing from left, SAU biology faculty members Tim Daniels, fishing faculty advisor Pablo Bacon, and Dr. Claude Baker; David Sargent; Rankin; Eason; Jeanie Bismark and Josh Kee of the SAU Foundation; Sandra Hughes, fishing team advisor; SAU Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Donna Allen; and Eldon Boch.
MAGNOLIA – Thanks to the generosity of a Southern Arkansas University alum, the Mulerider fishing team has reeled in its biggest catch yet.
Fred Eason, 1969 SAU political science graduate, recently visited his alma mater towing a blue and gold striped boat. SAU fishermen and University representatives welcomed him with wide-eyed excitement. SAU now joins the University of Arkansas as the only two university fishing teams in Arkansas with their own boats.
Eason has done well with his SAU education. He is currently chairman of the board of Delta Trust Investments, Inc., a Mossy Oak Properties agent, and president of Eason LaRoche Holdings, Inc. In his leisure time, he hunts, fishes, and writes books. He said that movie producers are currently reviewing his latest book, 500 Miles to Nowhere: The Legend of Bass Reeves.
Eason had been following the stories of the SAU fishing team’s success, and while reconnecting with the SAU Foundation, the devoted fisherman decided how he could give back to SAU. He knew his idea was meant to be when he realized that his 2001 Ranger 21” fishing boat with 225 horsepower Yamaha outboard motor fit perfectly with the Mulerider blue and gold.
“I hope this boat lasts the SAU fishing team a long time and that they have a lot of fun with it,” said Eason. “And I hope they win some fishing tournaments.”
SAU has shot up the college fishing team rankings since the team was formed in 2011. It is likely this fast boat will propel the Mulerider anglers toward more success.
John Wofford was on hand to thank Eason for the donation. Wofford and teammate Adrian McFadin will put Eason’s boat to good use at the beginning of October when they participate in the National Guard FLW College Series Invitational on Lake Sam Rayburn in Texas. Wofford qualified the team for this big tournament by landing two big catches in last season’s Cabelas Big Bass Bash in Branson, Missouri.
Had SAU enjoyed such fishing success when Eason was a student, he would have written about it in the University newspaper. He recalled his days as co-editor of the SAU student paper, The Bray. Originally from Camden, Ark., Eason attended Harmony Grove High School.
While visiting with Dr. David Rankin and other SAU representatives in the lobby of the beautiful SAU Science Center, Eason admired the growth of the University.
“This place has really boomed since I was here,” said Eason. “It doesn’t even look like the same place.”
August 22, 2013
Tongia Gaston, Customer Service Manager with Entergy Arkansas, presents a $2,500 check for the Southern Arkansas University Story Arena Reception Center to Dr. David Rankin, right, President of SAU, and Rusty Hayes, SAU Rodeo Coach. The Entergy investment represents a commitment not only to SAU, but to the community and the region. The Reception Center, now under construction, will provide amenities for the public attending events in Story Arena. Others interested in participating in the project may contact the SAU Foundation at 870-235-4078 or visit www.saufoundation.org.
June 17, 2013
Coach Leonard Biddle was a true “people person” even before he came to Southern Arkansas University, first to work, then to study, coach, teach, play and especially to build relationships.
This July 13 will mark the one-year anniversary of Biddle’s death, but his personality and passion for helping others has left a strong legacy. His mark on SAU and the community will also live on through the Leonard Biddle Golf Endowment, established through the SAU Foundation.
Prior to his arrival at SAU, Biddle led the modest life of a military fire fighter, collecting an abundance of friends wherever he went. His positive nature made people happy and proud to be his friends, or even to just say they knew him. Biddle embodied the ideal of the military community that people reach out to each other, especially when they are separated from home and country.
The success stories in Master Sergeant Biddle’s life were the many people who needed and depended on him, whether briefly or for a longer time: men just getting married and starting a family; very young soldiers on their own for the first time; couples on the verge of breaking up; someone losing a loved one. When tragic events tore people apart emotionally or when someone needed guidance, he was always available.
As a coach, Biddle’s mission was to make each season a little brighter than the last. His enthusiasm for SAU Golf created Mulerider fans among his friends in town, at the Magnolia Country Club, the Hope Country Club and the Smackover Country Club. In Coach Biddle’s view, coaching at SAU was a mission with no end date. He knew immediately that his love for SAU would keep him working for his alma mater for as long as he could.
In addition to coaching, Biddle also worked in the HKR (Health, Kinesiology and Recreation) Department and was available to help the student athletes and indeed everyone on campus, just as he had his colleagues in the military. His office door would never close as long as people needed him. And it did not stop when he left the office.
Coach Biddle was used to being called any time of day or night by his golfers, the students working for him and at the Wellness Center, his graduate assistants, and some of his colleagues. His dear friend, Coach Jay Adcox, former SAU Athletic Director, used to call at least an hour or two before each home football or basketball game to be sure that Biddle was coming to help. Actually, “Coach A” was just calming himself down by talking with Biddle for a few minutes.
Once he had a cell phone and could text, we constantly heard his signature funny ring tones. “I can’t make it to work today,” or “I have to go home over the week-end because something came up,” or “Can you get someone to cover for me?” The messages seldom stopped, but the most important text Coach Biddle ever received came just after he passed away late one night. It said simply, “I love you.”
Coach Biddle’s interactions with his golfers and Mulerider family never felt like work to him He had a true talent for re-prioritizing when hit with issues or problems. His work philosophy was always “Just do the best you can today!” As a golfer, he knew that some days are better than others. All he expected from his athletes was that they do their best each day.
Please ensure the continuation of Coach Biddle’s mission and honor his life by contributing to the endowment started in his memory at SAU. Donations may be made to the Leonard Biddle Golf Endowment at through the SAU Foundation, P.O. Box 9174, Magnolia, AR 71754, or online at www.saufoundation.org by using the “Make a Gift” link.
May 22, 2013
Peoples Bank of Magnolia, Ark., has made an investment of $25,000 in the College of Business at Southern Arkansas University. The contribution will fund $5,000 for current use of the College, with the remaining $20,000 endowing the Harold Fincher and Gerald F. Scott SIFE/ENACTUS Enrichment Endowment. This endowment will benefit business students who participate in state and national ENACTUS competitions.
Pictured are (Left to Right) Back Row: ENACTUS students Ben Bower, Yalile Johnson, Megan Maye, Christian Hunter, Megan Godsel, Chase Hardy, Lacy Guy, and Andrew Sawyer. Second Row: Peoples Bank Representatives Leslie Sharp, Dina Hayes, Fonda Miller, Sharon Gathright, and Jill McClinton; SAU Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Trey Berry; D.J. Fincher; Jonathan Baird; SAU President Dr. David Rankin; Dean of the SAU College of Business Dr. Lisa Toms; and Dr. James Clark, SAU Associate Professor of Marketing and ENACTUS Advisor.
September 28, 2012
MAGNOLIA – Six professors at Southern Arkansas University received professorships for the first time this fall. The new appointments bring to 10 the total of named professorships on campus created by endowments through the SAU Foundation.
Dr. Shawn Krosnick and Dr. Pablo Bacon were newly named as the L.A. Logan Professors of Biology. Dr. Lowell A. Logan, a native of Langley, and his wife, Cherry, had life-long involvement in education. After joining the faculty at Southern State College (now SAU) in 1967, Dr. Logan was the first SAU vice president of academic affairs.
For his role in preparing students for the pre-health fields, Dr. Claude Baker was appointed as the first Larry J. Embree Professor. Dr. Embree attended SSC from 1950-1952, moving on to obtain his medical degree with high honors in 1957. Embree was instructor in neurology and assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. He was also professor of neurology and head of neurology for LSU Medical Center in Shreveport, La. A distinguished alum of SAU and of the University of Arkansas, Embree retired from full-time academia in 2006.
Dr. Tim Wise is the newly-named Jean McFadden Turner Professor of Business Management. John and Jean McFadden Turner of Arlington, Va. are alumni of SAU and the first couple to fully endow a professorship through the SAU Foundation. This professorship is designated for the advancement of the SAU School of Business Administration. A native of Lewisville and a Distinguished Alumnus of SAU, Jean McFadden Turner is a former president of the SAU Foundation Board of Governors.John Turner, a native of Camden and retired vice president at Georgia-Pacific, is also a Distinguished Alumnus and a charter member of the Business Advisory Council for the SAU School of Business Administration.
Dr. Limount Zhao, associate professor of finance and chair of the Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics, was named the first Rankin Professor of Finance. The Rankin Professorship was created in honor of SAU President Dr. David Rankin by his former student James I. Freeman. A native of Magnolia, Freeman is executive vice president and chief financial officer of Dillard’s Inc. He received his bachelor of business administration degree from SSC in 1971. Freeman received a Certificate of Distinction for earning the highest grade in the state on the CPA exam and joined BKD, LLP as the youngest partner in the national accounting firm’s history.
Assistant Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Economic Education and Research Dr. Jennifer Logan received the Puterbaugh Professorship of Free Enterprise. This professorship was created in 1996 by a gift of the Puterbaugh Foundation of McAlester, Okla. The Puterbaugh Foundation was established in 1965 through the estate of J. Garfield Puterbaugh.
The new holders of named professorships join these previously named professors:
· Dr. Jeffry Miller – the Dr. Ralph Boulware Professorship of Agriculture
· Dr. David Ashby – the Peoples Bank Professorship of Finance
· Dr. Ken Green – the Ronald T. LeMay Professorship of Business Management
· Dr. Terrye Stinson – the Louis Blanchard Professorship of Accounting
September 6, 2012
From left to right: Interim Dean of the College of Liberal and Performing Arts Dr. David Crouse, SAU Foundation Executive Director Jeanie Bismark, Southern Aluminum Market Director Amanda Blanchard, Department of Art and Design Chair Dan May, Southern Aluminum’s Chief Financial Officer Allison Schultz, and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Trey Berry.
MAGNOLIA – Southern Aluminum contributed $5,000 to the Southern Arkansas University Department of Art and Design. This is the fourth investment of $5,000 by the Magnolia-based company, which helps to enhance the technology offerings to our design students. Through the generosity of Southern Aluminum, the Department is able to provide students with the tools to be successful in today’s ever-changing creative world.
February 7, 2012
John Ragsdale, center, stands with Dr. Trey Berry, dean of the College of Liberal and Performing Arts, and SAU President Dr. David Rankin after presenting the University with a check to begin the John G. and Dora J. Ragsdale Endowed Chair of Arkansas Studies. This is the first such chair in the state. Endowed chairs generally provide additional funds for a salary supplement and research opportunities for faculty members.
John Ragsdale is known throughout Arkansas as one of the greatest promoters of Arkansas history and will soon be honored for that legacy at Southern Arkansas University. The Southern Arkansas University Foundation is raising funds to complete the John G. and Dora J. Ragsdale Endowed Chair of Arkansas Studies.
The endowed chair will be the first of its kind in Arkansas. “It shows that we recognize the importance of the history of our state,” said Dr. Trey Berry, dean of the College of Liberal and Performing Arts. “An endowed chair is something to honor a distinguished professor whose scholarship in teaching can be recognized,” explained Berry. “It also allows the professor independent research and travel funds.” Berry said endowed chairs help the University in the budgeting process and add prestige when recruiting new faculty members.
Berry said he plans to pursue opportunities to add additional endowments throughout the College of Liberal and Performing Arts. Ragsdale was the “perfect fit” for this first endowment, Berry said. Not only is John Ragsdale a long-time supporter of Arkansas history, but he is also a native of south Arkansas, formerly residing in El Dorado.
October 26, 2011
When visitors come to Southern Arkansas University for the holiday season this year, the campus’s landmark Bell Tower will once again be ringing.
The Bell Tower was constructed in 1976 as a water tower for the campus, and until recently, it held 50,000 gallons of water. The addition of a water tower by the city of Magnolia near the SAU campus eliminated the need for the SAU tower.
In 1980, then-SAU president Dr. Harold Brinson purchased the set of 14 bells to begin ringing every quarter hour. The bells were purchased with funds from the University’s first alumni telephone campaign. Time and lightning strikes damaged the original mechanism, making it unreliable, and the tower has been silent for several years.
To bring the Bell Tower’s sound back to the campus, the University will install new digital operating equipment that will provide a variety of options including chimes and music. The work will be done with funds from an $18,475 gift through the SAU Foundation. The donation was made through a partnership of Julia Laney Machen, a member of the SAU Foundation Board of Governors, and members of the Phi Lambda Chi Fraternity.
Machen began the campaign to restore the bells in memory of her late husband, Billy Ray Machen, who was the physical plant director at SAU when the tower was constructed. Looking for a project that would contribute to the SAU campus, the members of Phi Lambda Chi chose to help complete the necessary funding to bring the bells back into operation.
“That was one of Billy’s main projects,” Machen said. “He loved the Bell Tower, and it always bothered him when the bells weren’t chiming.”
Machen said her late husband was a technology guru, so the addition of a new digital mechanism would please him.
“I know that is what Billy would be on board for,” she said. “He loved gadgets.”
Will Bowling, president of the Phi Lambda Chi Alumni Association, said the fraternity’s involvement included active members on campus as well as alumni.
“We completed our first scholarship endowment at homecoming last year, and we made a decision then to raise money for a project on a yearly basis,” he said.
Bowling said the Bell Tower is a project that can be identified by current Phi Lambda Chi members as well as alumni because “everybody knew that spot.”
“We are grateful for this partnership between Phi Lambda Chi Fraternity and Mrs. Machen and for their generous investment to complete this project,” said Josh Kee, associate director of the SAU Foundation. “Bringing the Bell Tower back to life will greatly enhance the SAU campus experience.”
May 31, 2011
MAGNOLIA – A $125,000 gift to the Southern Arkansas University Foundation will soon provide an annual scholarship for students majoring in mathematics education at Southern Arkansas University.
The Valerie Stewart Math Scholarship was recently established through a gift in memory of Stewart by her sister, Rebecca Stewart Matthews of Little Rock. Matthews received a Bachelor of Science in medical technology from SAU in 1969.
The scholarship will be available beginning with the fall 2012 semester.
The daughter of Howard and Evelyn Stewart of Magnolia, Stewart attended elementary and junior high school at Bright Star, Ark., and graduated from Stephens High School in 1962. She received her Bachelor of Science in Education degree from what was then Southern State College in 1966 and her Master of Science from the University of Oklahoma in 1971.
For over forty years, Stewart was a dedicated math teacher at both the high school and college levels in Arkansas and Texas. She was known as a caring teacher with high expectations who inspired both her students and her fellow teachers to excel. She was recognized numerous times during her career for excellence in teaching.
While at SAU, Stewart played AAU basketball and participated in a number of intramural sports. Her lifelong love of athletics and the great outdoors included fishing, snow skiing and especially golf. She could recount every shot she hit while playing Pebble Beach in 2005. She also loved to watch football and basketball games, especially if Arkansas was playing.
“SAU Foundation is pleased to accept this generous gift from Mrs. Matthews on behalf of the University,” said Executive Director Jeanie Bismark. “This scholarship will create a financial bridge for students in need while at the same time honoring Valerie Stewart’s legacy as a teacher and mentor.”
April 13, 2011
Physics Labs in the new University Science Center are filled with the latest in equipment thanks to the support of our generous donors. Recently Ray Uhrich and Mike Epley of the Amfuel Founders group and Dr. Rudy Eichenberger, former physics professor at SAU, visited the campus to observe students utilizing some of the items purchased with funds they helped to provide. Shown above are (left to right) Dr. Scott White, Chairman of the Department of Physics and Chemistry, Epley, Uhrich, Abdel Bachri, Physics Professor, and Eichenberger.
In 1984 a group of local businessmen associated with Amfuel [American Fuel Cell and Coated Fabrics Company] established an endowment to benefit the College of Science and Technology. Through the years, the endowment has provided a series of lectures as well as scholarships for students. Recently earnings from the endowment were used to purchase new computerized equipment to bring the physics labs up to date.
It was a special occasion for Dr. Eichenberger, accompanied by his wife Sharon, to visit with students working in the Dr. Rudolph Eichenberger Physics Laboratory. Through the generous philanthropy of Dr. and Mrs. Eichenberger, two labs and a faculty office are named in his honor.