Alumni Association Board elects four

Release Date: 9/10/2013

Four new members have been elected to the University of the Ozarks' Alumni Association.

The Rev. Dr. Jerry Rice '53 of Rogers, Ark.; Bill Crowder '56 of Fort Smith, Ark.; Elizabeth (Hendricks) Esch '93 of Fayetteville, Ark.; and David Ray '07 of Little Rock; were elected during the April board meeting. Rice, Crowder and Esch began their three-year terms on July 1. Ray was elected to serve an uncompleted term and will serve until 2015.

Rice is a former U.S. Air Force chaplain and served as the cadet chaplain at the Air Force Academy from 1970-1973. In 1979 he was promoted to full colonel and became the center chaplain at Keesler Air Force base.  After leaving the Air Force, he became head of staff at Spring Branch Presbyterian Church in Houston, Texas. In 1989 Dr. Rice was called to be the first dean of the Chapel and professor of religion at University of the Ozarks. He  retired from the active ministry in 1995. He has since had interim ministries in Plano, Texas; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Enid, Oklahoma; and Rogers, Arkansas.  He has previously served as president of the Alumni Association.

Crowder won more than 1,000 games as the head baseball coach at University of Arkansas-Fort Smith (UAFS), formerly Westark College, from 1966 to 1999. He received the National Coach of the Year award and the National Baseball Coaches Award. The UAFS baseball field was named "Bill Crowder Field" in his honor. A member of the Ozarks Sports Hall of Fame, Crowder was also inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame and the UAFS Hall of Fame.

Esch is the director of special events at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville, a position she has held since 2010. Previously, she served as events coordinator at the Garden from 2004 to 2010.

Ray, a former Student Government Association president at Ozarks, is a political campaign manager. He previously served as communications director for the Republican Party of Arkansas.