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.
Recent academic highlights for UALR athletics include:
• UALR earned four Sun Belt Academic Awards during the 2011-12 season, placing it second behind the University of Denver for the most team academic awards in the conference. The Women’s Tennis, Volleyball, Women’s Cross Country, and Women’s Track and Field teams were all honored for having the highest team GPA of all the schools in the conference in their respective sports.
• UALR has posted the highest multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) in the state of Arkansas each of the last four years. The APR is a term-by-term measure of eligibility and retention for Division I student-athletes that was developed as an early indicator of eventual graduation rates.
• During the 2011-12 academic year, UALR Posted the highest NCAA Graduation Success Rate of all Division I schools in the State of Arkansas.
• UALR student-athletes posted a combined cumulative GPA of 3.20 for the Fall 2012 semester, with 69 percent earning a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better.
• UALR boasts a 93 percent graduation rate for all student-athletes who remained at UALR and exhausted their eligibility — measured over a 10-year period.
• Head men’s basketball coach Steve Shields boasts an exhausted eligibility graduation rate of 100 percent during his nine years at UALR, while the women’s basketball program sports a 94 percent rate under head coach Joe Foley.
• UALR had 57 percent of its student-athletes honored by the Sun Belt Conference for academic achievement, over half of which were named to the Sun Belt Commissioner’s List for achieving a GPA of 3.5 or above.