Gooden and SicardTwo Fort Smith community leaders – an educational leader and a business leader – will serve as the keynote speakers for the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith’s spring commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. May 14.


Dr. Benny Gooden, superintendent of Fort Smith School District, will speak to graduates at the 10 a.m. ceremony, while Sam Sicard, president and chief executive officer of First National Bank, will speak at the 2 p.m. ceremony. Commencement exercises will be held in the Stubblefield Center on the UAFS campus.


Gooden became superintendent of Fort Smith Public Schools in 1986, where he leads the district’s 19 elementary schools, four junior high schools and two high schools, in addition to other secondary schools and learning centers. In 1992, he was named the Arkansas Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators and was honored as one of 100 Outstanding School Administrators in North America by Executive Educator magazine a year later.


Sicard has served as CEO of First National Bank since 2011, having started at the company in 1998. In his position, he oversees the bank’s divisions in Oklahoma, northwest Arkansas and Fort Smith. Additionally, he serves on a number of boards in the community, including the UAFS Foundation, Fort Smith Boys and Girls Club and U.S. Marshals Museum. He is also the current chairman of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board.


Dr. Paul B. Beran, UAFS chancellor, said Sicard and Gooden were fitting choices to speak at commencement.


“Dr. Gooden and Mr. Sicard embody the success to which our graduates aspire, and we are honored to have them speak to our graduates to motivate them for the next step in their lives,” Beran said.


The 10 a.m. ceremony will recognize graduates from the College of Applied Science and Technology and the College of Communication, Languages, Arts and Social Sciences. The 2 p.m. ceremony will recognize graduates from the College of Business, College of Health Sciences, and College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.


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Article by John Post, Director of Public Information
Date Posted: 
Friday, April 22, 2016
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