The University of Central Arkansas honored three of its former students and raised money for scholarships during the eighth annual Night of Distinction on Saturday.
“When your alma mater calls, you come,” Jim Schneider, alumni service award recipient, said.
Schneider, after a stint as a news and sports reporter with the Log Cabin Democrat in college, had a 31-year career at UCA. Over the span of more than three decades with the university, he served as sports information director, alumni director and public information director.
In 1984, Schneider was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame for meritorious service.
In 2009, the Conway Athletic Awards Commission presented Schneider with the Joe B. McGee Award.
Schneider graduated from then Arkansas State Teachers College, now UCA, in 1962.
Curtis Barnett, a 1986 UCA graduate who was one of the two Distinguished Alumni honored Saturday, said receiving the honor was “certainly a humbling experience.”
“I have no words,” Barnett said. “I always felt like I had leadership qualities in me.”
The former UCA Student Government Association president and current president and CEO of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield thanked his parents for their sacrifices that led to him graduating UCA debt-free.
Barnett is a member of the Health Leadership Advisory Committee and serves as chairman of the Board of Managers for Blue Health Intelligence. He also serves on the boards of the Baptist Health Foundation, Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, Healthy Active Arkansas and is a member of Fifty for the Future.
In 2015, the Arkansas chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, one of a number of charitable organizations Barnett supports, named him its Breath of Life honoree.
Dr. Gene Sloan, the other Distinguished Alumnus recognized at the gala, graduated from UCA in 1981. The ballroom erupted with laughter when he recalled a college mentor giving him advice about parties.
“One great party is worth several mediocre parties,” Sloan said, adding that Saturday’s event was a “really great party.”
He said he was overwhelmed by receiving the honor.
“Why me? I don’t feel like I’ve done anything special except do my job to the best of my abilities,” he said.
Sloan is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. He has held teaching positions at university hospitals and is a member of several plastic surgery societies, most notably the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Sloan, who started his private practice in 1993 in a shared office at St. Vincent’s Infirmary campus with two part-time employees, now has a staff of more than 10 in his facility that houses his clinical office, a skin care center and an accredited surgery center.
He recently received a Patients’ Choice Award, which is reserved for doctors who consistently get top patient ratings.
Saturday’s gala raised more than $50,000, which will be used to endow scholarships that aren’t fully funded.