PHOTO | Tara Espinoza
On Jan. 17. Stephanie Duffield of Russellville was sworn in and officially became a member of the Arkansas Tech Board of Trustees for a five-year term. The board is responsible for governing and setting policy for the institution, hiring the president, and ensuring Tech’s stability and longevity.
Duffield graduated from Tech in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in international studies, a Spanish minor and a business concentration. She served on the board for five years and was elected by fellow board members to serve as Chair.
“I see it as an opportunity to give back and serve this community that is so vital to our area,” Duffield said.
Currently, she serves as the board liaison to the Strategic Planning Committee, which comprises stakeholders to set measurable goals and create an outline in a strategic plan for Tech.
“It has also been a difficult two years under the weight of a global pandemic and all the challenges brought along with it. This has been the case for institutions of higher education across the country,” she said, “Working towards the mission of ATU, which focuses on student success, access and excellence, remains my priority.”
Being a board member means she has been visiting different departments to learn about special projects and interact with both students and facilities to discuss successes and challenges.
“The hardest part is having to make tough decisions because not everyone will like it or be happy. When it comes time to make those types of decisions, I consider each one. Being thoughtful and seriously looking at the choices and having what is best for Tech, the students and faculty at the forefront,” she said.
She realizes there are good outcomes with every hard decision she makes.
“The best part is when you get to see the students and their families at graduation. You cannot beat that look of pride and accomplishment on their faces. It is always a happy day to celebrate,” she said.
The sense of community that can be found on campus made Duffield want to continue her work here.
“You don’t have to look long or far to see people coming together to solve problems, support each other when life gets tough and celebrate when good things happen,” she said.
The idea of kindness, compassion and empathy dates back to her childhood when she would watch the show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” after school.
“I remember he would close out his show by saying, ‘You’ve made this day a special day, by just being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you. And I like you just the way you are,’ that quote has been with me since,” she said.
Another one of her influences was her high school geography teacher, Paul Gray,
“He helped me see that the world is bigger than the little corner of space I resided in. That idea shaped my worldview in a way, and it helped me realize everyone sees the world differently based on their unique set of experiences,” Duffield said.
She has volunteered her time to the RussVegas Foot Races Foundation, the First United Methodist Church, Court Appointed Special Advocates and the Pope County Literacy Council.
When Duffield is not serving Tech, she enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her family and friends.
As she continues her work at Tech, Duffield said, “As chair, I hope to continue listening, learning, and striving to do my part as a member of the board and the Tech community.”