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ChancellorSeptember 15, 2023

Fall Semester Sees Enrollment Gain, Busy Days

Dear colleagues and students,

It has been a fun and busy start to the fall 2023 semester, so I am writing to give you a few updates of interest.

Enrollment: UAFS has reported an increase in overall enrollment of 2.5% and an impressive increase in the enrollment of first time freshman of 6.8%. We are honored that so many Lions have chosen our outstanding university to begin or continue their educational journeys. This increase has lead to a much more engaging campus environment, and we look forward to the many events, activities, and opportunities this increase will bring to UAFS. Our application for admission for fall 2024 opened on August 1, so I look forward to reporting regularly about the ways that we intend to continue growing the campus learning community.

University of Arkansas Board of Trustees: Today, I had the honor of presenting a resolution to the UA Board of Trustees—which they voted unanimously to approve--to name the UAFS Family Enterprise Center in memory and honor of Jim Walcott. Jim Walcott was a founding member of the Family Enterprise Center and longtime leader, president, and CEO at Weldon, Williams, & Lick. The Board of First Bank Corp — composed of First National Bank of Fort Smith and Citizens Bank and Trust of Van Buren — voted to contribute a total of $500,000 to endow the FEC in honor of Jim Walcott, and they challenged us to raise another $500,000 as a match. Primarily through the generous contributions of the board members of both banks, we have actually exceeded the matching funds required for this gift, and we are not stopping there. It is our goal to continue to raise money for the endowment which will provide funds annually to be used to offer outstanding programs, educational sessions, and supportive peer group connections throughout the River Valley.

The Human Library Project: The UAFS Lion Leadership class of 2023 is proud to present their group project: The Human Library Project. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on September 22, 2023, in the Boreham Library, you will have an opportunity to check out a “human book,” and receive the gift of time to learn from others with whom you might never have interacted in the past. This is a remarkable program, started in New York City more than 20 years ago, and I appreciate the leadership and teamwork exhibited by the Lion Leadership Class of 2023 to bring this program to the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith.

Paint the Town Blue: Everywhere I went this fall I saw signs welcoming UAFS Lions — students and employees — back to campus. Between the banners hung through downtown Fort Smith and billboards in the community, it was clear that Lion Pride is strong in the River Valley. In fact, more than 150 businesses and organizations signed up to participate this year, and it was encouraging to hear how many plan to do so in future years. To create a “college town” experience, we will need the participation of every organization, business, church, etc. to show Lion Pride. I want to thank our Department of Marketing and Communications professionals who created this program and distributed signs all over town.

Assistant Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communication Chris Kelly recently received the great news that the Arkansas State Highway Commission approved our proposal to add the UAFS Lion logo to directional signage on I-540 which will direct visitors to our campus. He and his team will soon be releasing details on our UAFS Lions license plates (available late October) as well as a program to provide discounts for students and employees at local, participating businesses.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Congratulations to the Hispanic Heritage Month committee, chaired by Catherine Gonzalez, for creating an excellent slate of activities from Sept. 15-Oct. 15. We hope to see you at one of the many cultural, educational, and social programs planned for the month.

Register to Vote: National Voter Registration Day is on September 19, and you are welcome to stop by the Student Government Association office in the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to register to vote. Voter registration forms will be available.

I am honored to be your chancellor.

Terisa Riley


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