Night of Distinction is the only black-tie event of its kind in Conway. The highlight of the evening is honoring the recipients of the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award and Alumni Service Award.
Tommie Sue Anthony, ’63, ’73, and the Honorable Cliff Hoofman, ’68, are recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award. Dr. Joe Walthall, ’62, is the recipient of the Alumni Service Award.
Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, members of the UCA Board of Trustees, and other state and local dignitaries are expected to attend.
Alumni are awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award to recognize contributions to the university, community, state or society; achievement in a particular field of endeavor; and a reputation that enhances the reputation of the University. An alumnus receiving the award also serves as an example to students and contributes to the goals or welfare of the University.
The Distinguished Alumni Award is the most prestigious award presented to an alumnus of the University of Central Arkansas.
The Alumni Service Award was established in 2007 to honor an individual or couple, who through their deeds or actions, reflect and recognize the importance of the UCA Alumni Association and demonstrate extraordinary commitment, dedication, service and loyalty to the UCA Alumni Association.
Approximately 500 people are expected to attend. The evening includes a lavish dinner buffet with chefs draped in regalia as they dine in “Legacy Square”, a recreated Rogers Plaza and Simon Park inside the Farris Center.
Tommie Sue Anthony, ’63, ’73, has long been an advocate of education and education policy in Arkansas and nationwide.
Anthony currently serves on the Arkansas Advisory Council for the Education of Gifted and Talented Children. She has served as a College Board consultant in 25 states and as an Advanced Placement national trainer. She was picked as one of 100 College Board consultants in the U.S. to work with new consultants as a mentor and evaluator.Anthony served as the president of Arkansas Advanced Initiative in Mathematics and Science, Inc., a nonprofit group dedicated to providing Advanced Placement training and incentives to Arkansas schools from 2007 to 2013. She retired from this post in October 2013.
Before that, Anthony served as program coordinator for the Arkansas Advanced Placement Professional Development Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock from 1998 to 2007. She was director of the Talented and Gifted Programs for the Pulaski County Special School District from 1983 to 1998. She served on legislative committees and was the subject of the National Association for Gifted Children’s study on effective advocacy. She collaborated on legislation that brought about Advanced Placement programming in every Arkansas school district.
Anthony believes in striving for excellence, encouraging students to go beyond mediocrity and raising expectations in education. “We have to demand excellence from our students, and at the same time, we have to raise the bar,” Anthony said.
Honorable Cliff Hoofman, ’68, is known for his community leadership and as a consistent supporter of all endeavors at UCA.
Hoofman, an attorney and cattle farmer, is a native of Judsonia and a graduate of the State College of Arkansas, currently the University of Central Arkansas. He received a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas.
Hoofman served in the House of Representatives for eight years before serving in the State Senate for 20 years. While in the Senate, he served as floor leader for Governor Bill Clinton from 1983 to 1986. He was Chairman of the Budget Committee and he served as Senate Chairman of the Legislative Council from 1997 through 2000. After his tenure in the legislature, Hoofman served four years in the Attorney General’s office as an Assistant Attorney General and Director of Legislative Affairs. Prior to his service at the Capitol, Hoofman served two years as City Attorney for the City of North Little Rock. Hoofman was appointed by Governor Mike Beebe to the Arkansas State Highway Commission on January 18, 2007. In January of 2011 Governor Beebe appointed him to the Arkansas Court of Appeals for a term of two years. He has now been appointed for a two year term to the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Among numerous other distinctions, Hoofman received the Distinguished Service Award in 1975 from the Arkansas Municipal League. He is a Lifetime Board Member for Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Pulaski County and was inducted into Maumelle’s “Honorary Navy” for his contributions to the City of Maumelle. In 1993, he was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the National Surface Transportation Research Council, and from 1993 through 1996 he served on the Commission for Arkansas’ Future. Hoofman has a daughter, Ragan, who is married to Chuck Milner, and they have two sons. He and his wife, Debbie, reside in Faulkner County.
Dr. Joe E. Walthall, ‘62 has been dedicated to University of Central Arkansas students and alumni for decades. Walthall taught in UCA’s Department of Early Childhood and Special Education for 30 years.
During that time, he earned a doctorate in special education and co-authored two textbooks. “Habilitation of the Mentally Retarded Individual” was co-authored and published with Dr. Harold Love in 1974. Three years later, the authors published another textbook, “A Handbook of Medical, Educational, and Psychological Information for Teachers of Physically Handicapped Children.”
After he retired in 1999, he served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2002 to 2008. He was president of the association board from 2003 to 2005.During his time as president, Walthall helped build up the Alumni Association by bridging relationships between students and alumni.
Walthall helped spread a positive message about the university and encouraged alumni to stay in touch with the school to support incoming students. Walthall served on several alumni association committees and helped secure the location and construction for the Crafton Alumni Pavilion.
In 2012, the Dr. Joe and Charlene Walthall Scholarship Fund became fully endowed at UCA. The scholarship fund is for students pursuing a degree in early childhood education or special education.
Walthall and his wife, Charlene, who is a UCA alumna, remain active in the association and university. The couple sponsors members of the Reynolds Performance Hall. They are UCA Purple Circle members and “general fans of the university,” Walthall said. They visit the campus one to two times a week.
“I truly hope that the University of Central Arkansas Alumni Association will continue to instill in students a relationship that doesn’t necessarily end when they graduate, but becomes a continuing part of their lives,” Walthall said.
The Walthalls have been married for more than 50 years. They have one son, Brooks Walthall, and two grandchildren, Audrey and Brooklyn.