Guest Written by Julie Morgan
This year will be the first in many that I have not started a new academic/school year. The beginning of school is one of my favorite times. Russellville and the River Valley are home to some wonderful school districts and Arkansas Tech University. Most cities in Arkansas have a school district; it is part of the community identity and a source of pride. However, not all communities are home to a college or university. Russellville has been home to Arkansas Tech University since the site was announced (February 10, 1910) and the first classes began on October 26, 1910. The community and university have worked together for over a century. Over the years, this partnership has provided unlimited opportunities not only to Tech students but to the community. Formal and informal partnerships have supported Tech and the community. The partnerships between Tech and the business community, the professional community, civic organizations, area school districts, alumni and friends of the university are constantly developing and strengthening the bond between Tech and the River Valley. The partnerships are critical to the success of the university and the community.
If you are reading ABOUT, I assume you have an interest in Russellville and the River Valley. The majority of you are residents of the River Valley and you made a conscious decision to live here. For the community to grow, be progressive and successful, it takes all entities working together without advocacies, promoting and supporting initiatives, programs and activities that will help achieve common goals and positively impact economic development. Key to community success is education.
Arkansas Tech, my alma mater, has become the third largest university in the state. Tech’s contributions to the community are many and varied, though not always easily defined or measured. With regard to community, one of the most obvious contributions is the economic impact. The last economic impact study, which was done a few years ago, attributed approximately 20% of the River Valley economy to Arkansas Tech University. Russellville would be a very different city without Tech. I want to personally ask everyone in the River Valley to embrace the green and gold of Tech. Tech is a significant part of Russellville’s identity. The visual support speaks volumes when prospective students and their families visit campus. Numbers alone for move-in weekend, homecoming and graduations generate revenue and provide an opportunity to showcase the River Valley.
With the excitement and energy that a new school/academic year brings, please consider how you can help and support the area school districts and Arkansas Tech University:
- Regardless of age or grade, all students need support and encouragement.
- Be an advocate and recruiter for Arkansas Tech.
- Attend events: athletic, music, theater, lectures, etc. The River Valley is home to some of the strongest programs in the state and region.
- Have breakfast, lunch or dinner on campus at Chambers Cafeteria or Baswell Techionery.
- Fly a Tech flag—there should be a sea of green and gold throughout the River Valley.
- Purchase a Tech license plate at the Revenue Office.
- Call Norman Career Center to advertise jobs.
- Visit the Tech website to see what is happening on campus (www.atu.edu).
- Wear green and gold every Friday—this was proclaimed by then Mayor Bill Eaton and Judge Jim Ed Gibson!
- Give financially as you can. Your first responsibility is to your own alma mater.
As a very proud alumna (and Witherspoon kid) of Arkansas Polytechnic College (1972) and Arkansas Tech University (1983), I have had the privilege of being on staff at my alma mater and just recently retired. I have a love for Tech, a passion for which I make no apologies! The transformation of Tech, under the leadership of Dr. Robert C. Brown and now Dr. Robin E. Bowen is unsurpassed. Together, Arkansas Tech University and the community can be a leader in the state and provide the best education possible for our students. That education will open doors, create opportunities for a better life and promote economic development.
Under the umbrella of education, I have been given 40-plus years of opportunities, experiences and memories. Those include years as a public school music teacher, high school choral director, high school library media specialist, director of alumni relations and assistant to the president at Tech. I owe all of this to Arkansas Tech. Tech has given me much more than I can ever give back. With a new school year, please commit to making education in the River Valley a priority and support it as a priority.