Ellis College shares spring accomplishments

The Ellis College of Arts & Sciences at Henderson State University recently shared many of its spring 2020 accomplishments.


Elizabeth Adair, psychology, was featured in TIME magazine. The magazine published several essays by grocery workers who shared their experiences and challenges with COVID-19 in their own voices.

David Thompson, chemistry, was accepted to graduate school at the University of Arkansas- Fayetteville Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Marissa Gaspard, Social Science Education, has been accepted to graduate study in history at Sam Houston State University in Texas.

Music students Nathan Clay, Caytlee Cowart, Cooper Douglas, Areyannah Hale, De'Courtneyous Miller, Kameron Posey, Reece Ruhl, Greylyn Tidwell, Alex Tyler, Hannah Vaughn, and Ryan Whitley represented Henderson at the Southwest American Choral Directors Association Collegiate Honor Choir.

Six students from Henderson State attended the Arkansas State NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) annual auditions on the campus of University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Emily Devault (Vocal Education), Areyannah Hale (Vocal Education), Fisher Neufeld (Keyboard Performance), Reece Ruhl (Vocal Performance), Alexandra Tyler (Vocal Education), and Kevin Wright (Management) performed in the first day's preliminary round, singing two prepared songs for panels of three judges. All six students received excellent scores and advanced to the second day's semi-final round. Two students further advanced to the afternoon final round, both singing a singular song for their respective categories. Ultimately, Areyannah Hale received second place in Freshmen Women, and Reece Ruhl received Third Place in Sophomore Men.

Twelve Henderson students were accepted to present at the Posters-at-the-Capitol event in Little Rock. Engineering students Joseph Dees, Andrew Diehl, Austen Greco, Joseph Schuster, Bradley Wilson, and Dallas Crumley were mentored by faculty members Rick McDaniel and Dever Norman. Marty Campbell, Chemistry, mentored Emily Harness (Chemistry) and Caitlyn Burke (Biology). James Engman, Biology, and Michael Taylor, Communication, have worked together to mentor Quincy Gragg, Lauren Camp, Cecily Rodriguez, and Kaylie Wheeless, all Biology.

“Initial Microbial Survey of a Potentially Ecologically Unique Tennessee Cave System,” the poster of Biology majors Quincy Gragg, Lauren Camp, Cecily Rodriguez, and Kaylie Wheeless, mentored by James Engman and Michael Taylor, was also the only poster to be selected to present at the capitol for the Council on Undergraduate Research symposium in Washington, D.C. Although they were unable to travel to the nation’s capital, they did participate in a virtual conference. Their project is titled "Genetic Analysis of Microbial Samples from a Cave System with a Biological Community Functioning Independently of Photosynthesis.”

For the first time, a Henderson team took first place in the Arkansas Undergraduate Mathematics Competition, which was hosted on campus this year. Ten teams from Arkansas Tech University, John Brown University, Ouachita Baptist University, University of the Ozarks, and Henderson competed, working for three hours to solve 10 challenging mathematics problems without technology of any kind. Team Members are Bryan Neal (Mathematics), Dallas Crumley (Physics), Greg Jordan (Mathematics), and Eric Carter (Mathematics).

Natalie Gray and Adrian Hinojosa, Theatre, presented their new plays, "The First Flight," and "Diamonds are Forever" in the Second Stage Series in the Studio Theatre.

Emily Housdan, History, was accepted to present her paper, "The Conway Arkansas Children's Colony 1955-65," at the 79th Annual Conference of the Arkansas Historical Association.

Sarah Ragan, Art, presented her senior exhibition, "Emergence."

Choir members Orelando Carodine (Vocal Education), Emily Davault (Vocal Education), De'Courtneyous Miller (Vocal Education), Reece Ruhl (Vocal Performance), Rachel Terry (Psychology), Alex Tyler (Vocal Education), and Kevin Wright (Management) participated in this year’s Arkansas Intercollegiate Choir.

Music students Zaquary Hale, Wesley Gangluff, Luke Fields, Riley Brule, and Morgan Lee delivered outstanding performances at the annual President's Concert.

Jerry Wayne Gaston, Computer Science, and Keona Lizette Reed, Social Work, were awarded Mable Armstrong Ushers Scholarships.

Music students Skyler Baker, Makayla Mitchell, and Shelby Owings traveled with Steve Becraft, Music, to Arkansas Tech University for the annual state Clarinet Day in February.


Michael Taylor, Communication, will release his next book, Hidden Nature: Wild Southern Caves, in August, published by the Vanderbilt University Press.

Malcolm Rigsby, Sociology, is working with OBU professor Justin Keeler in a research study that is concerned with how people are being impacted socially and psychologically from the Coronavirus containment protocols.

John Price, Communication, Maryjane Dunn, Spanish, and James Engman, Biology, were featured in a story in the Oracle about “Professors adapting to quarantine.”

Torri Ellison, Communication, Jennifer Amox, Music, and James Engman, Biology, were all featured in a series about teaching online in the era of COVID-19 that was published on the Henderson webpage.

Kasten Searles, Art, challenged her students to excel even in a remote teaching environment by assigning a “low-tech zine project.”

Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas hosted a virtual Q&A with Katherine Strause, Art.

Travis Langley, Psychology, has been identified by the American Psychological Association as a "thought leader" in the field and asked to give a keynote address at the organization's annual conference later this year.

Margarita Peraza-Rugeley, Spanish, was profiled for Women's History Month in the Oracle.

Constanze Weise, History, was appointed to the board of directors of the Urban History Association. They also conducted an interview with her about her research and life in Arkansas.

In honor of Women's History Month, the Student Engagement Center celebrated some outstanding Henderson faculty members and authors. Inspirational women faculty, as nominated by students, included Katherine Strause, Art; Margarita Peraza-Rugeley, Spanish; Sharon Paredes, Math; Julie Quast, Curriculum and Instruction; Megan Hickerson, History; and Jennifer Amox, Music. Authors included Angela Boswell, History; Maryjane Dunn, Spanish; Megan Hickerson, History; Margarita Peraza-Rugeley, Spanish; Tiffany Pittcock, BA-English Alum; and Marybeth Trubitt, Archeology Field Station and Anthropology.

Fred Worth, Mathematics, was featured in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette for his “unique hobby”: “visiting the final resting places of baseball players.”

Steve Listopad, Communication, presented a lecture, "Hazelwood: 32 Years of Living With a Bad SCOTUS Decision, and What We're Doing About it" at North Dakota State University.

Doug Heffington, Geography, and his geography classes are credited with valuable work at Radnor Park in Nashville in the February issue of The Tennessee Magazine.

May Tsao-Lim, Music, toured Arkansas and Texas with Luis Sanchez, Texas A&M University Commerce.

Margarita Peraza-Rugeley, Spanish, wrote a review on a brief but in-depth book over a 17th-century Mexican colonial writer and her representations in Pop art: Stavans, Ilan. Sor Juana: or, the Persistence of Pop. The review is forthcoming in 2020 in Revista de estudios de género y sexualidad (Journal of Gender and Sexuality Studies).

Michael Taylor, Communication, reviewed the book Hidden Tennessee in Chapter 16:

Douglas Gilpin, Theatre Arts, was inducted into the Arkansas Thespian Society’s Hall of Fame Feb. 15 at the annual Arkansas Thespian Festival. Gilpin is a designer and director for Henderson theatre and dance productions and has taught at the university for 32 years.

The first art show of the semester, "In This Place," opened in the RFA gallery on Jan. 21. It featured three artists, including Margo Duvall, Art.

Aaron Calvert, Art, was featured in an exhibition at The University of Central Arkansas’s Baum Gallery. “Fired Up in the Natural State: Contemporary Ceramics” featured art faculty in Arkansas.

Katherine Strause, Art, opened an exhibition of her art at Gallery 26.

Kasten Searles, Art, was commissioned to create a title wall painting for the exhibition currently at the Clinton Center.

Terry Rugeley, History, has been invited to teach at one of South Korea's most prestigious universities this summer. Kyungpook National University (KNU) selected only 10 from among 140 applicants to participate in the Visiting Scholar Program.

Mary Beth Trubitt, Anthropology, presented the program "Archeology and Caddo Indian History in the Ouachita Mountains" at a meeting of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, John Percifull Chapter.

Kasten Searles, Art, participated in the “Prison Portrait Project,” an exhibition held at the New Deal Gallery in Little Rock. Her work for this exhibition was featured in a review of the show in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Vernon Miles, English, was the first presenter in Truth, Order, and Beauty’s new series of sessions featuring the scholarly research of our faculty. He presented, “A Kind of Monstrosity? The White Novelists’ Proslavery Ideology in their Amalgamation Advocacy.”

Departments, groups, and events

The Reddie Media Group recently competed in the Arkansas College Media Association Contest and won seven awards in total, including first place for Website of the Year, Best Jock/Radio Personality, and Best Radio Imaging. They took second place for News Reporting, Sports Reporting, and Television Feature and third place for Sports Photo.

The Women's and Gender Studies Program planned several interesting events to celebrate Women’s History Month, including a talk by Dr. Allison Vetter, HSU's former Title IX Officer and Associate Professor of Sociology, who spoke on the History of Title IX, and a celebration of the 100th Birthday of the Nineteenth Amendment.

Alpha Mu Gamma, foreign language honor society, sponsored the open-mic event, "Around the World in 80 Seconds" during National Foreign Language Week. Those who had traveled, studied, or lived abroad, or were from another country, spoke about their experiences. Alpha Mu Gamma also sponsored weeklong exhibits, “Women in Translation” in the Huie Library and “Put a Pin Where You’ve Been” in the Garrison Center.

The Social Sciences Department presented a special lecture by Dr. Brian Mitchell, Assistant Professor of History at University of Arkansas at Little Rock, in celebration of Black History Month. Dr. Mitchell spoke on “The Friends of Universal Suffrage: The Untold Story of Louisiana’s Role in the Struggle for Voting Rights.”

The Arkansas Archeological Survey’s Henderson State University Research Station received two small grants to develop interpretation for the Caddo Center, which houses the Joint Educational Consortium’s Hodges Collection of Native American Artifacts. The collection was moved to open curation in the renovated Caddo Center on campus in 2019.

Henderson State University Bands hosted approximately 1,500 visitors to campus in February for the Arkansas All-State Band auditions.

The Department of Chemistry hosted a visit from representatives of Baptist Health College Little Rock. They discussed interview skills and answered questions about the Medical Laboratory Science, Nuclear Medicine Technology, and Radiography programs which are completed through taking courses at both institutions.

As part of Theatre’s Second Stage Series, the Dance Company presented the annual fall Choreography Showcase to a full audience of students, faculty, and guests. There were nine original works choreographed by faculty, Jennifer Maddox, MOE guest artist King Alvarado, and dance company members Brandon Curtis, Katia Hughley, Parker Madlock, and Meagan Woodard.