New student advisory board hopes to make impact in community

Release Date: 11/20/2012

Twelve Ozarks students, from all walks of life, have come together to form a community advisory board whose goal is to strengthen the relationship between University of the Ozarks and the surrounding community.

Emma Bottorff, director of campus activities at Ozarks, put together the group of students based on recommendations from Ozarks faculty and staff.

"Being that this is the first year we've ever done anything like this, the students were selected based on recommendations from faculty and staff," Bottorff explained. "We have talked about eventually incorporating an application and interview process or something similar, but for now we chose the board members based on strong recommendations."

The group consists of a wide variety of students involved in all aspects of campus life. Bottorff explained that, in order to have the board truly reflect the student body, she strove to make sure all constituencies on campus had representation.

"For example, we knew we wanted to have a student-athletic representative to work as a liaison between the athletic department and our board, so we worked with the coaches to find a student who would make a good representative," Bottorff explained. "That's just one example. We tried to have students from every academic division and major group on campus."

The goal of the advisory board is to work directly with Travis Stephens, CEO and economic development officer for the Clarksville-Johnson County Chamber of Commerce, to make the flow of ideas between the campus community and Clarksville's business leaders more seamless.

"Travis Stephens actually came up with the idea of putting together a board of students to work with the Chamber," Bottorff explained.

Ozarks students already have a powerful impact on the surrounding community, but those works aren't common knowledge. The community advisory board hopes to make sure that community businesses understand how much Ozarks students already do and how much they are willing to do to make a positive impact on Clarksville.

According to Bottorff, the community advisory board has hit the ground running.

"We want to build projects that have high potential for reward and that are simple for us to accomplish because of the sheer number of people we have available to help. For example, we're working to put together a team to put Christmas lights up around the square, which is something Clarksville hasn't had in a while. Also, we've already been approached about helping build up Johnson County's Relay for Life event," she said.

By increasing visibility and communication with the surrounding community, the community advisory board also hopes to foster a deeper level of support for Ozarks.

"One of the first things we'd like to accomplish is to make the university a little more visible in the community," she said. "We'd like to secure discounts for Ozarks students in the area businesses, possibly providing them with stickers and banners to help advertise those discounts in their stores. We'd also like to donate athletic jerseys to local restaurants to display."

Having a group of talented and capable student leaders dedicated to improving community relations is sure to open up a wealth of possibility for growth and service. Bottorff is enthusiastic about the future of the new board.

"They are a great group. We're just now getting our feet underneath us, but we have big plans for how to utilize this group in the future. Travis Stephens has also been great. He's already showing so much enthusiasm for this group, which will help make this venture successful." Bottorff said.

Ozarks Community Advisory Board members are DJ Baston from Austin, Texas, Ian Bryan from North Little Rock, Ark., Scotti Burnside from North Lake, Texas, Matt Carroll from Roswell, New Mexico, Carmen Castorena from Searcy, Ark., Cameron Coker from Russellville, Ark., David Cortes from Clarksville, Ark., Eugene Downs from Nicaragua, Nick McKinely from Benton, Ark., Julie Petz from Mabelvale, Ark., Lauren Ray from Siloam Springs, Ark., and Rikki Runyan from McGehee, Ark.