UCA’s night of distinction honored alumni from years past. These people were given their time in the limelight to be offered thanks for their dedication and service to UCA and the surrounding community.
Walking into the Farris center, many would not recognize the once banner-filled gymnasium. In the middle of the room was a mock version of the Conway arch found in downtown. Below the impressively cardboard-fashioned archway were several containers of gourmet food courtesy of Aramark foods. Dishes such as Champagne glazed carrots, buttered broccoli, and garden tortellini filled the heated trays.
"We have presented tonight’s meal buffet-style to promote communication and mingling among our guests," said Don Bingham, Director of Special Events.
Live music was offered by the UCA band, which celebrated their centennial this year. Robin Nix, Grand Conductor of the UCA Centennial Concert Band and 1965 UCA graduate directed the band. The evening’s musical selection was concluded with a dance with musical styling from "Loose Ends."
Fletcher and Sherry Smith of Fletcher Smith jewelry acted as MC’s for the evening. Their speeches were filled with humor and honoring words.
Among the guest list were Governor Beebe, State Senator Jason Rapert and many others. Yet, despite the food, music and guests, the reason for the evening was to spotlight those awarded the 2014 Distinguished Alumni award and the Alumni Service award.
Two alumni received the 2014 Distinguished Alumni award, Mrs. Tommie Sue Anthony and Honorable Cliff Hoofman.
"I have known Cliff for almost 30 years. He has a saying, which we call hoof-amisms, ‘If you’re going to storm hell with a bucket of water, let me go get mine,’ that’s the definition of loyalty," said Beebe.
Hoofman has served in the House of Representatives for eight years and State Senate for twenty years. Hoofman has spent many years serving the Arkansas public in various positions from an appointment by Governor Mike Beebe to the Arkansas State Highway Commission to a Lifetime Board Member for Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Pulaski County.
Beebe continued to praise the second recipient of the Distinguished Alumni award. "Tommie Sue has done more for education than many know. When she quits, I may quit as well," said Beebe.
Anthony, an advocate for education, served as the program coordinator at the Arkansas Advanced Placement Professional Development Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock from 1998 to 2007. In this position she has advocated for the furthering of Advanced Placement courses and educated teachers in all areas of Arkansas "from poor to rich, rural and urban," said Beebe.
The Alumni Service Award was presented to Dr. Joe Walthall. Walthall is a prominent figure in the community and a positive face for the university. As an active member of the Conway area, he has been a sponsoring member of the Reynolds Performance Hall and has developed the Dr. Joe and Charlene Walthall Scholarship Fund, which was fully endowed at UCA in 2012.