The University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM) held its spring commencement exercises on Friday, May 13, in the Steelman Field House. Dr. Peggy Doss, chancellor of UAM, recognized graduates completing associate, baccalaureate and master’s degrees during the ceremony.
Commencement was split into two ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The 10 a.m. ceremony included the College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources (undergraduate and graduate), the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, the School of Nursing, the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Division of General Studies. The 2 p.m.ceremony included the School of Arts and Humanities (undergraduate and graduate), the School of Business, the School of Computer Information Systems and the School of Education (undergraduate and graduate).
Scott Jones, campus minister for the Missionary Baptist Student Fellowship, provided the invocation, and Scott Bearden, assistant professor of music, sang the national anthem and alma mater.
Dr. Donald Bobbitt, president of the University of Arkansas System, spoke during the ceremony. C.C. “Cliff” Gibson III, of Monticello, provided greetings on behalf of the University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees, where Gibson serves as chairman. UAM Board of Visitors member Gregg Reep, of Warren, was in attendance.
During the 10 a.m. ceremony, George Dunklin assisted in presenting graduate certificates in Waterfowl Habitat and Recreation Management to the first class of graduates from the new UAM College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources graduate program. Dunklin is the owner of the Five Oaks Duck Lodge. In 2020, he established the Five Oaks Ag Research and Education Center and partnered with UAM and the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture to create a waterfowl research and education program.
Dr. Doss congratulated the graduates and their families and friends, stating, “We share your joy and pride over the achievements of these hardworking students—our newest University of Arkansas at Monticello graduates.” She also made special acknowledgments of graduates who were first-generation students, parents, active in campus organizations or members of the armed forces.
Crystal Halley, vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, announced the finalists for the 2022 UAM Hornaday Outstanding Faculty Award: Dr. Suzanna Guizar, associate professor of exercise science in the UAM School of Education; Karen Hyatt, associate professor of nursing in the UAM School of Nursing; and Dr. Jennifer Miller, associate professor of criminal justice in the UAM School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Dan and Charlotte Hornaday, both alumni of UAM, established the annual award in 2010 to recognize excellence in faculty teaching, research, scholarship and public service.
Halley named Dr. Guizar the winner of the 2022 Hornaday Award. Dr. Guizar has worked to make UAM’s exercise science program competitive on a national level by applying for the program to become a National Strength and Conditioning Association Educational Recognition Program in Personal Training. To ensure that students have access to state-of-the-art equipment, Dr. Guizar has applied and received two Centennial Opportunity Grants from UAM. The first grant was used to purchase a SECA body composition analyzer. The second grant will be used to purchase a 3-D biometric scanning device. During the ceremony, Halley noted, “Students describe Dr. Guizar as uplifting, relatable, encouraging and inspiring. She has a caring attitude and concern for the social, emotional and academic well-being of her students. Dr. Guizar’s commitment to her students and profession is extraordinary. We are fortunate to have her as faculty.”
Dr. Doss announced Crossett native Randy Risher as UAM’s 60th Distinguished Alumnus. Risher graduated from UAM in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in wellness leadership. He credits the supportive faculty and staff, especially Dr. Boyce Davis, for guiding his academic career. In 1994, he opened his first business as a personal trainer in Houston, Texas, and over the years, he has employed many UAM alumni. As a personal trainer, his most notable client was former President George H. W. Bush. Risher trained President Bush for five years, and the former president became a friend to him and a great supporter of The Risher Companies. In 2021, the Houston Chronicle named The Risher Companies to a list of the top workplaces in Houston. Risher has been a generous supporter of UAM, including funding several UAM Foundation endowments and donating fitness equipment for the campus wellness center and athletic facilities. UAM has proudly recognized Risher’s dedication over the years. He and his wife, Neela, have their names included on the UAM Centennial Clock Tower for their contribution to a campaign that raised one million dollars for the UAM Foundation Fund. In 2011, Risher received the UAM Alumni Award for Achievement and Merit, and in 2013, the new campus health building was named the Randy S. Risher Wellness Center.
A short video honoring Randy Risher as UAM’s 60th Distinguished Alumnus can be found here.
A photo album for UAM’s 10 a.m. commencement ceremony is available on UAM’s Facebook page here.
A video recording of UAM’s 10 a.m. commencement ceremony can be found on UAM’s YouTube channel, UAMonticello, here.
A photo album for UAM’s 2 p.m. commencement ceremony is available on UAM’s Facebook page here.
A video recording of UAM’s 2 p.m. commencement ceremony can be found on UAM’s YouTube channel, UAMonticello, here.