Volume 6 Issue # 2
Monday, Sept. 15, 2003

Campus News
Enrollment hits new high
   Ozarks’ 2003 Fall Semester enrollment of 731 students is the largest on-campus enrollment in university history. This semester’s enrollment represents a four percent increase over Fall 2002 and a 38 percent increase since 1998 when the campus had 530 students. It also marks the most on-campus students in the school’s history, topping the 726 students in 1989. The only other time Ozarks reported more students was in the 1980s when total enrollment numbers included students at its satellite campuses in Fort Smith and Hot Springs.
   The 2003 Fall Semester enrollment includes 452 returning students and 279 new students. There are also 466 students living in on-campus housing this semester, the largest number in the university’s history and a 35 percent increase since 1998.

Campaign celebration near
   Students, faculty and staff are invited to take part in a monumental event in the university’s history on Friday, Oct. 3, as we celebrate the successful completion of the Pride & Promise Campaign.
   The $60-million campaign, the biggest in the university’s 169-year history, has helped Ozarks improve student services, academic programs and facilities. The celebration will begin with a ceremony at 5:30 p.m. in Munger Chapel, followed by dinner.
   Call Karla Dickerson in the Advancement Office at Ext. 1230 if you plan to attend. Please join us as we honor and thank the many donors who have blessed this campus.

Around Campus ...

    The university’s annual Health Screening Day for students, faculty and staff will be from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 9, in the Seay Student Center ... “Children,” the Theatre Department’s first production of the school year, will be performed Oct. 10-11. The play is a story of an American family forced to deal with the impact of social changes on their comfortable status quo life during the last years of the 20th century ... There will be no classes on Tuesday, Sept. 16, because of Assessment Day ... Signups for intramural football are this week ... The Eagles soccer team tied Austin College 1-1 at home Friday to move to 2-2-1 on the season. The Lady Eagles fell to AC 1-0 to fall to 2-3. Both teams will be back home on Friday, Sept. 26 against Louisiana College.

Reba Pridgin '81, Director of Alumni Relations
Taylor Magee

Florida swimmer owes Ozarks student “his life”

  Editor’s Note: The following article about U of O senior Taylor Magee appeared this summer in the El Dorado Times-Record. It is reprinted here with the permission of thenewspaper.)
   Taylor Magee is not a lifeguard, but he more than played one last month when he helped to rescue a man from drowning at a Florida beach.
   Had it not been for Magee’s quick thinking and calming demeanor during the rescue effort, Stuart A. Long might have been a victim in one of several recent drownings that have been reported in the Florida Panhandle.
   Long, a professor of engineering at the University ofHouston, was vacationing in Perdido Key, Fla., last month when he found himself in a harrowing predicament.
   In a heartfelt letter to Taylor’s parents, Ed and Karen Magee of El Dorado, Long recalled his first “meeting” with their son.
   “One afternoon I was playing around in the surf with a small surfboard and inadvertently got caught up in some sort of undertow, or riptide. Before I even knew what was happening I realized that I was being swept farther and farther from shore he wrote.
   The incident unfolded at Orange Beach on June 8, during a weekend of stormy weather that produced fierce waves and dangerous riptides, or under currents that flow outward from the shore along the Gulf of Mexico. Like hundreds of other visitors to beaches in the area that weekend, Long took to the water despite red flags cautioning people against swimming.
   Several swimmers had drowned in nearby Pensacola, including a man who drowned the same day that Long rode his Boogie board into the water at Orange Beach.
   “It quickly became evident that I was unable to kick back in. I decided that I was in trouble and tried to shout for help for what seemed like a very long time,” he wrote.
   Struggling to stay afloat, Long was knocked off his board a couple of times, but managed to climb back on. He was unsure if anyone on the beach had heard his cries for help.
   “I began to realize that there was no way I was going to be able to survive without help,” he lamented.
   As fate would have it, Magee was working a summer job as a cabana boy, renting umbrellas and loungers to beach-goers at the same posh beach resort where Long was staying.
   Magee had completed his work day and was packing up his beach equipment preparing to leave at 4:30 that afternoon when he took one last look down the beach front.
   “I saw these people frantically waving their arms and pointing toward the ocean, indicating that a swimmer in the distance was in trouble,” he explained.
   Magee said he then spotted Long in the water about 100 yards out and he could tell immediately that Long was in trouble.
   “I got on my radio and called my boss. Then I called emergency crews,” he said.
   Realizing it would take a while before rescue workers would arrive, Magee instinctively decided to go out into the water to help Long in the meantime.
   “I grabbed the nearest Boogie board I could find and passed my radio to the nearest person on the beach and went,” he said.
   “As I got closer to him, I could see that he desperately needed help, his eyes were red, he was totally exhausted and almost going into shock. The waves had knocked him around quite a bit.”
   A life-long swimmer, Magee explained that although he is not a certified lifeguard, lifesaving classes taken over the years had prepared him for such a situation.
   “I knew to stay back because people in danger of drowning often panic and then there’s the danger of putting the rescuer under,” he said. “So I tried to talk to him and calm him down. I let him ride on the Boogie board while I dragged him to shore.”
   But pulling the professor to shore was not easy, thanks to uncooperative currents and waves. Explained Long, “The current was still very strong however, and it was not clear that he would be able to tow both of us in. He kept me out of the water by telling me when the next wave was about to crash over us.” Long said that another person joined the rescue effort “after quite some time,” and Taylor said they reached shore after about 30 minutes.
   “I am reasonably certain that I would not have been able to stay afloat for the time it took authorities to respond. It is also clear after the fact that Taylor risked his own life to save mine,” Long wrote.
   Magee said that he had often been mistaken for a lifeguard at the Perdido Key resort because of the swimsuit he wore as part of his job uniform. He remembered a coincidental encounter that had occurred earlier that day. “It’s really funny, I had been asked by some patrons that day ‘since you’re not really a lifeguard, what would you do if someone were drowning,”’ he said.
   Magee said the events of that day left him physically drained, and he fell asleep as soon as he “walked through the door,” at about 8 p.m. He also refused Long’s appreciative and persistent attempts to compensate him financially, saying that Long “kept thanking” him during the rest of his stay in Perdido Key.
   “Finally, I told him one day that he could just bring me a Coke while I was working on the beach, and he began bringing me several Cokes a day,” he laughed.
   Long shared the story with Magee’s parents.
   “I was certainly more than willing to give him a reward of some kind ...For the rest of the week I was there, I can assure you that he did not go thirsty,” he wrote.
   The two men who did not know each other prior to June 8 have now formed a special bond.
   Upon learning that Magee is an avid soccer player, and student at Ozarks, Long pledged to keep in touch and to track him as he works toward a career as a sports announcer and/or soccer coach.
   Magee said he will take the experience with him this fall as he heads into his senior year at U of O, where he is majoring in communications.
   He later plans to attend graduate school at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
   “It’s kinda one of those situations where I didn’t think I just reacted — I was in the moment. It’s one of those things I’ll always remember,” he said.
   So will Long. “You can be assured that he has a friend for life. He put himself in a very dangerous situation for a complete stranger. I really feel I owe him my life,” Long said.
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