The Southern Arkansas University Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Thursday to adopt a resolution naming a new residence hall for science and engineering majors after Dr. Rudolph and Mrs. Sharon Eichenberger according to their press release.

Rudy and Sharon Eichenberger Hall will house about 78 students as the Science and Engineering Living and Learning Center. Work has already begun to transform this facility, which was the former skating rink on campus near the Engineering Building, into one of two new residence halls slated to open for this upcoming fall semester.

Dr. Trey Berry, president of SAU, read the resolution prior to the board’s vote.

“Each of the Eichenbergers worked here many years and made a tremendous impact,” Berry said.

Dr. Rudy Eichenberger joined SAU in 1981. He was named professor of physics and chair of the department in April 1988 and retired in June 2007. He received a grant for $11,690 from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education to support the Integrated Science, Math & Technology project in November 1999. He was named professor emeritus on May 1, 2008.

The late Sharon Eichenberger started at SAU in 1983 and retired in 2002. She served as coordinator of annual giving and became director of development and executive director of the SAU Foundation, Inc., in 1984. She was certified as a fund-raising executive professional in 1989.

The Eichenbergers have been on the list of Top Five annual donors three times: 2010, 2012 and 2016. They have been generous supporters of Magale Library. They were among the top two donors to the Science Center, and Dr. Eichenberger made a leadership-level pledge to the Engineering Building.

In other business, the board, after discussion in executive session, voted unanimously to seek a resolution for $1.2 million to build the SAU president’s new home on campus.

Dr. David Lanoue, provost and vice president of academic affairs, presented the board with a slate of academic program changes, which were approved unanimously.

Lanoue recommended a new, five-year BS/MS Computer Science program that will allow students to complete their bachelors and master’s degrees on an accelerated basis and “start making a living.”

He also recommended a new emphasis to the BFA in Art and Design in Interactive Media and Marketing.

“Parents say, ‘Our child wants to major in art, but can they get a job?’ This new emphasis is the solution to that problem. Students can pursue their passion for art but gain the skills they need in business so they can manage their own career or perhaps someone else’s,” Lanoue said. “This will get them out in the job market and help them be successful.”

Lanoue said similar emphases will be added to musical theatre and creative writing, “marrying skills to passion. You don’t want to extinguish anyone’s enthusiasm but you do want them successful and employed.”

He and Berry also informed the board that a doctoral program in educational leadership is being considered for SAU. Such a program would make SAU the only university in the southern half of the state to offer such a program.

“There are few doctoral programs in education in the state,” Lanoue said. “That has consequences. None are below Little Rock. We need homegrown leaders who will serve our communities in southern Arkansas. We need to grow and deploy those leaders successfully.”

Lanoue said education is in “a bit of a crisis” and a program at SAU would answer that problem. “There is a gap between the teachers we have and the teachers we need.”

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