As part of homecoming festivities at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, the Alumni Association will make three awards on Feb. 29.
The Alumni Reunion Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 29 in the Reynolds Room in the Smith Pendergraft Campus Center.
Annually, the Alumni Advisory Council, working with Alumni Director Rick Goins, identifies two graduates – a senior leader and a more recent graduate – who have shown a heart for service and leadership acumen. Beginning last year, the Alumni Association added a third award: one for someone who supports the university who is not a graduate of the school.
This year, the council determined the Diligence to Victory Award will go to Judy I. and Larry D. Loux, members of the Fort Smith Junior College class of 1960. The Young Alumni Award will be presented to Brittany Slamons, ’09. The Honorary Alumni Award will be made to the late Chancellor Joel Stubblefield.
“We are honored to recognize these alumni and friends as a way to show their continued impact on the university and community,” Goins said. “We are proud of the university’s continuity in the community, which they represent.”
Diligence to Victory
The Diligence to Victory Award is the highest alumni award bestowed by UAFS. Its name developed from the motto of the first graduating class of Fort Smith Junior College in 1928: “Through diligence to victory.” Recipients are alumni who have distinguished themselves through service to the university, community, state, or nation or whose outstanding leadership in their business or professional lives exemplifies the motto.
The Louxes served on the College of Education and later the School of Education Advisory Board for many years. As long-time educators in the Fort Smith Public Schools, they committed their lives to education. They established The Judy I. and Larry D. Loux Scholarship Endowment for junior and senior education majors because they knew beginning teachers sometimes struggle financially. Because they believe in the importance of education outside the classroom, they are enthusiastic boosters of UAFS Athletics, and they also established Larry D. and Judy I. Loux Women’s Basketball Endowed Scholarship. They also have included UAFS in their estate planning.
“The Louxes represent the virtue of Diligence to Victory in all their doings,” Goins said. “They have supported their alma mater through the years since their graduation, and I am proud to see this award go to them. And personally, I am happy to say Judy Loux was my 7th grade English teacher. I learned a lot from her, and I know what education means to her.”
The Louxes will receive the 10th Diligence to Victory Award, and in honor of this significant milestone, many of the previous awardees will be at the reunion dinner. Judge Jim Spears, ’66, the 2019 awardee, will present the award.
Young Alumni Award
The Young Alumni Award is awarded to alumni younger than 40 who have distinguished themselves through service to the university, community, state, or nation and who are strong leaders within their career fields. Slamons, now employed at the university, is director of the Academic Success Center and TRIO director. She served as the chapter advisor for Gamma Phi Beta for almost 10 years after her graduation. A statement nominating her for the award described her as the true “embodiment of a Lion in all that she does,” and said “she never settles for less than her best. Maybe most importantly, she shows her pride and love for UAFS by continuously helping to make it a better place for new Lions.” Casey Millspaugh, ’11, the 2019 awardee, will present the award.
“Brittany has shown her Lion’s heart through her activities on campus when she was a student, through her volunteer activities since, and through her current position, which allows her to support at-risk students,” Goins said.
Honorary Alumni Award
To honor friends and supporters of the university who are not alumni, the Alumni Advisory Council established the Honorary Alumni Award in 2018. Recipients are individuals who demonstrate their outstanding support of the university through service or monetary gifts showing they are Lions at heart.
Joel Stubblefield was the sixth president and first chancellor of the institution that today is UAFS. He was named president of Westark Community College in 1983, and he oversaw the college’s growth and development through the establishment of the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. His vision, persistence, and determination are credited with transforming a community college into a four-year-degree granting member of the University of Arkansas System.
“I think it is fair to say no one more significantly altered the trajectory of the university than Joel Stubblefield,” Goins said. “His connections to business leaders of the day and his successes with the Legislature certainly helped to create today’s university, but more than that, it was his evolving vision that a community college could become a university that brings us to this point in our history.”
Bill Hanna, the CEO and chairman of the board of Hanna Oil and Gas, last year’s winner, will present the Honorary Alumni Award to Marilyn Patterson, Stubblefield’s sister, who will accept it on behalf of the family.