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ROOTED: The UAFS pillars express the university's place in the community.

BT-Current | Bell Tower MagazineFebruary 14, 2022

Pillars of Our Core Beliefs

Written By: Chris Kelly

In the summer of 2019, just days after starting a new journey at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, I found myself in the Chancellor's Office. Dr. Terisa Riley, who started her tenure at UAFS only weeks before, challenged me to leap into two major undertakings - a reinvigoration of the UAFS brand, and a complete overhaul of the website. It was time to modernize and to unify our message.


I must admit the thought of tackling two projects of this size at the same time made me and the team a bit anxious. Building a website is a difficult and cumbersome, but fairly straightforward process. Developing a core brand for a university, especially one that serves so many stakeholders, is much more complicated.


As a newcomer, I knew the best way to uncover the core of what it means to be a Lion was to ask the people who create it: Lions of the past and present.


We went directly to our students, alumni, faculty, staff, and our community (more than 1,200 individuals in all) to discover what makes UAFS special. We asked them about their experiences, expectations, and aspirations. Then we did something that is uncommon today: We listened.


What we learned inspired us all. We heard stories of faculty who allowed students to believe in themselves, life-changing experiences, unexpected opportunities, and community connections that continue to make a difference.


As their answers and experiences accumulated, we saw five common themes emerge, and our brand pillars were born.

  • Thinkers & Doers: We teach people to put theory into practice. Our students land the job and do it well.
  • Options & Opportunities: We don’t replicate how higher education’s always been done. We redefine it for the good of our students by providing an abundance of academic options.
  • Empowering: We hold an unwavering belief that every student has the capacity to achieve, and we help them realize the possibilities within themselves.
  • Rooted in our Region: We serve students from around the globe but are deeply and unapologetically rooted in this region and our local community.
  • The Pride of Arkansas: UAFS Lions form a tight-knit community that works together, plays together, and hunts for new opportunities together.


It was an honor to have led this project and to see the hard work of our Marketing and Communications team come to life. This brand launch, coupled with our new website, will allow us to tell the UAFS story in a consistent and meaningful way.


It is an exciting time to be at UAFS. I cannot wait for what the future holds. I am proud to be a Lion.


By Chris Kelly

Senior Director of Marketing and Communications