2023 Alumni Award Winners Announced
University of Arkansas - Fort Smith alumni gathered for the homecoming brunch on Saturday, Feb. 18, first celebrating award winners before heading to the pep rally and basketball games at the Gayle Kaundart Arena in the Stubblefield Center.
Before the awards were given, Vice Chancellor of Advancement Blake Rickman reminisced about Stacey Jones, class of 1971 and a member of the Alumni Advisory Council. Jones served at UAFS for 45 years. He retired as associate vice chancellor of University Advancement in October and died unexpectedly eight days later. Rickman invited alumni and guests at the brunch to recall and share their favorite funny stories about Jones.
Heather Deere, chairperson of the council’s awards committee, introduced the awards part of the program and made the first of four awards.
Lindsey Steiger-Muck, class of 2009, received the Young Alumni Award, which recognizes graduates younger than 40 who are strong leaders in their fields and have distinguished themselves through service to the university, community, state, or nation. Steiger-Muck, who holds an MBA from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, worked after college at ArcBest, where she was chosen for leadership training. She coordinated ArcBest’s Partner in Education program with Trusty Elementary School, planning service projects and donation drives. When she left ArcBest, she was a senior accounting and payroll tax analyst. Still, her passion for higher education led her to the University of Arkansas, where she now serves as Senior Director for Career Services at the Sam Walton College of Business.
Meagan Bowling-Fudge, class of 2012, received the Outstanding Faculty and Staff Award, which recognizes a current or former faculty or staff member who consistently and profoundly goes beyond expectations to set students up for success as learners, young professionals, and people. Bowling-Fudge is known to be a powerhouse of service to the university; she is currently spearheading the implementation of the University of Arkansas System’s student record system, Workday Student.
Beth Presley received the Spirit of Numa Award, which recognizes individuals, groups, or businesses who demonstrate their support of the university by sharing their time, money, or advocacy with the enthusiasm of alumni, although they haven’t attended UAFS. Some years ago, as assistant athletic director, Presley helped guide UAFS athletics from a junior college program to an NCAA Division II program. As CEO of Fort Smith Boys and Girls Club, she has a tremendous positive impact on the 2,000 children participating throughout the community. Many of those children will become UAFS Lions in the years ahead.
State Rep. Jay Richardson, class of 1991, received the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award, formerly known as the Diligence to Victory award. This is the highest alumni award and recognizes someone whose life demonstrates what diligence can accomplish. Richardson has distinguished himself through professional leadership and service to his community, state, and nation. Richardson has been an advocate for the people of Fort Smith and for UAFS students. He has served as a member of the U A F S Foundation Board and as a mentor and speaker to the Young Men of Excellence on campus. He played baseball at Westark Community College under the legendary coach Bill Crowder.
A Richardson nominator said the importance of relationships is the heart of his philosophy. He believes that “change and impact happen through the power of connection and support, and his example to our community and students demonstrates the ability to live a life of service with the people at the center.” This nominator believes, and the Alumni Advisory Council agrees, that state Rep. Jay Richardson “exemplifies that no matter where you go, who you encounter, and who you serve, there is always a greater purpose in what you do. As such, his selection for the Distinguished Alumni Award is much deserved.”