Clark, Hanna to address UAFS grads, challenge them to ‘engage’

by Talk Business & Politics staff (staff2@talkbusiness.net) 634 views 

Steve Clark, CEO of Fort Smith’s Propak Corp. and founder of 64.6 Downtown, and Bill Hanna, president and CEO of Hanna Oil and Gas Company and partner in KMW Properties, will address new graduates May 11 at the 101st commencement of the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.

The ceremonies are set for 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. May 11 at Stubblefield Center, 532 N. Waldron Road. There is expected to be 390 certificates, 131 associate degrees, 524 bachelor’s degrees and four master’s degrees conferred at spring graduation, Dr. Georgia Hale, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, told the UAFS Board of Visitors at its meeting April 24.

Clark, who will address the morning ceremony, has been ranked as one of Arkansas’ top business innovators and was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the University of Arkansas Walton College of Business in 2015. He also received the Arts Community Development award earlier this spring for his work in Fort Smith, specifically through The Unexpected, a project of 64.6 Downtown, bringing urban and contemporary art to Arkansas, according to the Arkansas Arts Council.

Clark is also actively involved with the Fort Smith community, serving on the boards of the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith Foundation, U.S. Marshals Museum, and the Central Business Improvement District. In 2019 he received the Governor’s Arts Award for Arts Community Development. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in finance and banking from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Hanna will address graduates at the afternoon ceremony. Hanna began his tenure with Hanna Oil and Gas in 1983 and was named president in 2000. In addition to his career with Hanna Oil and Gas, Hanna serves on the boards of First Bank Corp., Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, Boys and Girls Club, United Way, Central Business Improvement District, and Arkansas Colleges of Health Education.

Hanna also owns the Shipley building located on South Sixth street near the Fort Smith Convention Center, which in April was issued a $2.757 million building permit by the city for renovation into an events center and future brewery.

He is also a member of the UAFS Foundation Board, the G.C. Hardin Society, and the UAFS Family Enterprise Center.

In broad terms, Clark said he “will speak to the fact that this economy requires us to never end our curiosity, our education.” He is proud they are graduating and it’s a great moment for them, “but in some respects it is the minimum price of admission.” And with that admission, Clark said he will challenge them to engage and help the community grow.

Hanna also plans to issue a challenge.

“My tease (for what the speech will be about) has to do with two words, ‘I’m in,’” Hanna told Talk Business & Politics.

The two-word phrase is essentially a challenge to the students to get involved.

“Don’t sit on the sidelines. Engage.”

Dr. Michael Moore, vice president for academic affairs for the University of Arkansas System, also will be in attendance to greet candidates. The morning ceremony will recognize graduates from the College of Business, College of Health Sciences, and College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The afternoon ceremony will recognize graduates from the College of Applied Science and Technology and the College of Communication, Languages, Arts, and Social Sciences.

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