Members of the Arkansas Tech University community gathered Thursday (June 6) to honor Dr. Jo Alice Blondin’s impact during her tenure as chancellor of Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus.
To commemorate the work of Dr. Blondin, who has served as chancellor since 2006 (serving previously as chief academic officer and chief student officer), a reception was held in the Student Service Conference Center. Along with Arkansas Tech administrators, board members, faculty and staff, guests included elected officials, community leaders, family and friends.
Blondin is moving to Springfield, Ohio, to serve as president of Clark State Community College.
Speakers included President Dr. Robert Charles Brown, Board of Trustees Chair Leigh Burns Whiteside, Chief Academic Officer Bruce Sikes, Chief Student Officer Richard Harris and Chief Fiscal Officer Sandy Cheffer.
Brown spoke of the campus’ growth – both in student population and program offerings – at the helm of Dr. Blondin, as well as her spearheading the campus’ initiation of a strategic planning process and first capital campaign.
Since Blondin joined the Arkansas Tech family, ATU-Ozark enrollment has increased 562% – the fall 2012 semester saw an enrollment of more than 2,000 for the first time ever – and 16 new academic and technical programs have been added.
“This is only scratching the surface,” Brown said, smiling. “But beyond all that, Jo Blondin has been our colleague – she’s been our friend.”
He added, “Jo, please know that you go with all our good wishes, and we wish you nothing but the best.”
Whiteside, who has served on the Board of Trustees since 2008, spoke of Blondin’s mission-driven philosophy, commitment to business and community outreach and dedication to creating a first-class learning environment that yields “competent, smart men and women ready to meet the challenges facing them upon graduation.”
“Arkansas Tech strives for excellence in education; Jo is committed to this principle,” she said. “She is going to be missed, but a plan for moving forward has been established that will carry on because of all the outstanding people who work as hard and are as committed to this campus, to its students and to the region as she has been. Her legacy is, and will be, the foundation for the future of Arkansas Tech.”
During the event, Blondin was presented a citation from the Arkansas General Assembly from Rep. Bill Gossage, R-Ozark, as well as a commemorative plaque from the ATU-Ozark faculty and staff for her “leadership, vision and resolute dedication to the success of the Ozark Campus,” Sheffer said. Also, Brown presented her with an Arkansas Tech 100th anniversary commemorative plate.
Blondin thanked Brown for instilling in her a “mission-driven attitude,” Whiteside for being “such a champion of this campus” and the Arkansas Tech Executive Council for their “collegiality.”
“I learned more from those individuals than I can possibly know,” she said.
Fighting tears, Blondin alluded to a conversation between she and the chief officers – Sikes, Harris, Sheffer and Chief Business and Community Outreach Officer Dr. Ken Warden – in which she told them, “You will look back on this time … and you will realize that you never worked with such loyal and committed people. You will always look back and say, ‘That was the best group of people I ever worked with’ – and it’s true.”
She said, “When people credit the accomplishments of this campus, they should really credit Executive Council, the chief officers, Leigh Whiteside and the Board of Trustees, Dr. Brown and our staff and faculty. … While I look forward to the new opportunity I have, please know that any success I might have in Springfield, Ohio, or Ohio in general, is because of the work we did on this campus.”