One of the most important components in the life of a student-athlete is academics, and the academic advising staff at UALR has an open door policy that facilitates and encourages regular contact with student-athletes. Dr. Jan Dannaway and his staff strive to help student-athletes feel a part of the academic community, develop sound academic and career goals and ultimately be successful graduates.
The academic center in the Jack Stephens Center allows student-athletes access to a first-rate facility which they can visit for academic advising, tutoring and schedule consultation. The academic center features 23 computer terminals, each of which provides access to the internet and a printer.
Open communication exists between the academic advising staff and the coaches concerning academic policies and student performance. All student-athletes are guided and monitored for their academic progress and performance throughout the year. Tutoring is one of many valuable resources available through academic advising. By working with tutors and professional staff, student-athletes generally experience reduced test anxiety and improved grades.
Dannaway joined the Trojan athletic department in 2004, bringing with him over 30 years of experience on the UALR campus. In 1975, Dannaway came to the university and worked as a supervisor of student aid before being promoted to acting assistant dean of students in 1977. He was given the post permanently in 1980 and served in that capacity until 1994, when he became a student development specialist working with incoming students. He spent 10 years at that position before joining the athletic department.
Dannaway holds a bachelor’s degree in physical education and recreation, and a master’s degree in guidance and counseling, both of which are from the University of Mississippi, where he played collegiate baseball. He also has a doctorate in student personnel and counselor education and a doctoral minor in physical education from Mississippi State University.
• UALR was recognized in 2003 as the top Division I-AAA university in the country in improving the graduation rates of its student-athletes and, in turn, received the USA Today-NCAA Academic Achievement Award. Division I universities without football programs are classified by the NCAA as I-AAA.
• UALR student-athletes achieved a combined cumulative grade point average of 3.24 for the 2008-09 academic year, with 65 percent earning a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better.
• UALR boasts an 88 percent freshmen graduation rate for all full-time entering freshmen who remained at UALR and used four seasons of eligibility. The rate is measured over a 10-year period.
•UALR had 56 percent of its student-athletes honored by the Sun Belt Conference for academic achievement, over half of which were named to the Sun Belt’s Commissioner’s List for achieving a GPA of 3.5 or above.
• Head men’s basketball coach Steve Shields has graduated 95 percent of his players who have exhausted their eligibility under his watch (19-of-20).
• Senior Whitney Kerth was named ESPN the Magazine Third Team Academic All-America, as well as First Team Academic All-District.
• The women’s tennis team boasted a 3.81 grade point average for 2008-09, earning them Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-Academic Team honors. Laetitia Bourgeon, Chantel Coolen, Nathalia Garay, Marta Gomez-Jordana, Fanny Lopez, Rebecca Van Den Houte, and Anne Weijenborg each received ITA Scholar-Athlete honors.
• The women’s tennis team also received the Sun Belt Conference Team Academic Award after boasting the highest grade point average for both men’s and women’s tennis at 3.71 during the 2007-08 season.
• Women’s golfers Sara Wikstrom, Mallory Fraiche, and Daniele Vial were each named All-American Scholars by the National Golf Coaches Association.
• The women’s swimming and diving team was named a CSCAA NCAA Division I Academic Team, and also received the Team Academic Award from the Sun Belt Conference.