Guardians of the Gallery

A History of the Henry Woods Student Leadership Award

Guardians of the Gallery

A History of the Henry Woods Student Leadership Award

The man behind the Henry Woods Student Leadership Award, Henry L. Woods, Jr., was an individual known for his commitment to public service. He left behind a legacy of leadership on the University of Arkansas campus, in the U.S. capital, and in the lives of the 25 students who have received the award since its inception in 1999.

Upon his retirement from civic service, Woods’ friends and associates decided to establish the scholarship in honor of his 25-year career in Washington, D.C., and to recognize his lasting impact on the university and the state of Arkansas. The Henry Woods award was established within the Division of Student Affairs and since then 25 students have received the award that has helped them go on and pursue careers in public service and leadership roles in their own communities.

Henry Woods, Jr., lived a life full of public service —
a strong and encouraging leader in every community he was in.

Now, 25 deserving University of Arkansas students have received the award created in his honor to recognize outstanding student leadership.

Woods was born in Malvern, Arkansas, in 1951. He graduated from Hot Springs High School in 1969 and later graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1973. While he received both a B.A. and an M.A. in Political Science, his greatest accomplishment was his legacy of leadership and community service. Woods was editor of the Razorback yearbook, involved in student government, the Arkansas Union, the Interfraternity Council, and was named to the “Who’s Who Among American Colleges and Universities.”

Following graduation, Woods worked in Washington D.C., on the staffs of congressman Bill Alexander, and senators David Pryor, Dale Bumpers and Blanche Lincoln. During his 25 years of civic service in the U.S. capitol, Woods worked hard as an advocate for Arkansas and helped improve the quality of life for its people. He established an internship program for Arkansas students that still exists today with over 350 Arkansans having gone through the program.

He stayed involved in the university community, an active member of the University of Arkansas Alumni Association and coordinated the activities of the Arkansas State Society in Washington for several years.

Each year, the Division of Student Affairs awards two graduating seniors, one female and one male, the Henry Woods Student Leadership Award. Winners are students who have an outstanding record of leadership on campus.

The following quotes come from the recipients of the Henry Woods award. They discuss how the award impacted their personal lives and helped them in their career pursuits.

The man behind the Henry Woods Student Leadership Award, Henry L. Woods, Jr., was an individual known for his commitment to public service. He left behind a legacy of leadership on the University of Arkansas campus, in the U.S. capital, and in the lives of the 25 students who have received the award since its inception in 1999.

Upon his retirement from civic service, Woods’ friends and associates decided to establish the scholarship in honor of his 25-year career in Washington, D.C., and to recognize his lasting impact on the university and the state of Arkansas. The Henry Woods award was established within the Division of Student Affairs and since then 25 students have received the award that has helped them go on and pursue careers in public service and leadership roles in their own communities.

Woods was born in Malvern, Arkansas, in 1951. He graduated from Hot Springs High School in 1969 and later graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1973. While he received both a B.A. and an M.A. in Political Science, his greatest accomplishment was his legacy of leadership and community service. Woods was editor of the Razorback yearbook, involved in student government, the Arkansas Union, the Interfraternity Council, and was named to the “Who’s Who Among American Colleges and Universities.”

Following graduation, Woods worked in Washington D.C., on the staffs of congressman Bill Alexander, and senators David Pryor, Dale Bumpers and Blanche Lincoln. During his 25 years of civic service in the U.S. capitol, Woods worked hard as an advocate for Arkansas and helped improve the quality of life for its people. He established an internship program for Arkansas students that still exists today with over 350 Arkansans having gone through the program.

He stayed involved in the university community, an active member of the University of Arkansas Alumni Association and coordinated the activities of the Arkansas State Society in Washington for several years.

Each year, the Division of Student Affairs awards two graduating seniors, one female and one male, the Henry Woods Student Leadership Award. Winners are students who have an outstanding record of leadership on campus.

The following quotes come from the recipients of the Henry Woods award. They discuss how the award impacted their personal lives and helped them in their career pursuits.

Henry Woods, Jr., lived a life full of public service — a strong and encouraging leader in every community he was in.

Now, 25 deserving University of Arkansas students have received the award created in his honor to recognize outstanding student leadership.

Who was Henry Woods?

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Proud Razorback

As a University of Arkansas Student, Henry was active in Associated Student Government, Interfraternity Council, Arkansas Union, and Editor of the 1972 Razorback yearbook.

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Community Service

Never one to stay still long, Henry sang, danced, directed and produced productions in regional theaters in Washington, D.C., and Key West, Florida, to raise funds for the theaters.

After retiring in Florida, Henry also taught political science at Florida Keys Community College.

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Public Servant

  • Democratic campaign worker for state legislature, U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives races
  • Moved to Washington D.C. and worked for Democrats Bill Alexander, David Pryor, Dale Bumpers, Blanche Lincoln
  • Designed and developed the Arkansas intern program for the U.S. Senate—more than 350 are alumni of the program
  • Honored with a scholarship fund in his name established upon his Washington D.C. retirement

PUBLIC SERVICE

“My hope is that one day I can positively impact as many people as Henry did.”

Jordan Johnson

Jeffrey Smith

J.D. Lowery

Stephanie Mazzanti

Ben Beaumont

Amber Williams Davenport

Autumn Lewis

Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Jordan Johnson
Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Jeffrey Smith
Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

J.D. Lowery
Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Stephanie Mazzanti
Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Ben Beaumont
Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Amber Williams Davenport
Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Autumn Lewis

Recipient Jordan Johnson who was the first student to receive the award in 2000, said he was privileged to count Henry Woods as a friend.

“The Henry Woods Student Leadership Award helped open numerous doors of opportunity for me throughout Arkansas and in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “After entering the professional world, I was fortunate to become friends with Henry. My hope is that one day I can positively impact as many people as Henry did during his years of service.”

With more than 17 years of communications experience, Johnson who is also an attorney, represents public and private companies, municipal utilities, agricultural entities and non-profit organizations through his company Jordan P. Johnson consulting, in Little Rock, Arkansas. He specializes in environmental communications and is known for building unconventional partnerships between private companies, public entities and non-governmental organizations to find solutions to public issues. He is president of the Arkansas Food bank, past chairman of Riverfest and sits on the Board of Directors for the Little Rock Parks and Recreation Commission.

For Jeffrey Smith receiving the award in 2002 gave him “confidence to enter the workforce as a leader.”

Smith, who is a Senior Insights Manager for Proctor & Gamble said, “I leaned heavily on that award and the confidence it gave me when I made a career switch four years after college, from my chosen major to a completely different field. I’m not sure I would have spent the past 11 years at Procter & Gamble without the award credentialing me.”

Smith also credited the award with encouraging him to give back to the community in order to make a bigger impact on people’s lives.

“I’ve chosen to invest deeply in Big Brothers Big Sisters, where I’ve been a Big mentor to two different kids over the past 15 years and where I serve on the Board of Directors for Northwest Arkansas,” he said.

“Because Mr. Wood’s name was held in such high esteem I know it helped me get my first job working for Governor Mike Beebe and greatly aided my acceptance to the Clinton School of Public Service,” said former recipient J.D. Lowery.

“All of those experiences were made possible, in part, by receiving that honor,” he said of receiving he scholarship in 2006.

“Additionally, having the association with that award and Mr. Woods, I pushed myself to do the very best I could to live up to that recognition.”

Currently, Lowery is Manager of Communication and Economics for Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas in Little Rock.

The first female to win the Henry Woods Scholarship was Stephanie Gosnell Mazzanti, who received the award in 2003.

The former Associated Student Government president and Harry S. Truman scholar said, “Receiving the Henry Woods award was an incredible honor, and I have attempted to follow in his footsteps through a career in public service.”

She is currently an Assistant United States Attorney practicing in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas and lives in Little Rock.

“When you talk to people who knew Mr. Woods well, you get the idea of what a great responsibility it brings to receive an award bearing his name,” said Ben Beaumont, who received the Henry Woods award in 2004.

“I have gotten to know several other recipients of the award and can say that it is an honor to be among them,” he said. Beaumont is the Senior Director of Policy and Public Affairs for the University of Arkansas System.

“Receiving the Henry Woods award was very humbling for me, particularly after learning about Mr. Woods’ legacy both as an active student leader on campus and in his career in public service,” he said.

An elementary teacher in Arlington, Texas, Amber Williams Davenport received the Henry Woods award in 2010. She said she was stunned to learn she had won the award.

“Leadership just came naturally to me so I was involved in a lot of organizations on campus,” she said. “I never expected to receive the Henry Woods award for doing something that I really loved, but I am very grateful for it.”

Davenport said she continues to use her leadership skills, honed at the university, as she chairs her district’s English literacy program and in coaching the junior high cheerleading squad.

Autumn Lewis, who won the award in 2014, is the Assistant Director of Development for the College of Engineering at the University of Arkansas. Lewis graduated summa cum laude with degrees in political science and economics and worked as a staff assistant for Senator Mark Pryor. She said it was an incredible honor to receive the award.

“I have made innumerable connections with fellow Arkansans who knew Henry Woods and heard many stories about the impact he had on their lives,” she said. “Receiving this award has encouraged me to continue to dedicate my career to public service and using policy to improve people’s lives.”

Where Are They Now?

Henry Woods award winners are scattered across the U.S. One recipient is even working on a graduate degree in the United Kingdom.

But the majority of the winners stayed right here at home, living and working in the great state of Arkansas.

CAMPUS LEADERSHIP

“The Henry Woods award validated the value of the skills I learned outside of the classroom through leadership in student activities.”

Tanner Bone

Hilary Zedlitz

Tina Fletcher

Dwayne Bensing

Mike Norton

Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Tanner Bone
Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Hilary Zedlitz
Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Tina Fletcher
Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Dwayne Bensing
Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Mike Norton

“Receiving the Henry Woods Student Leadership Award was a tremendous honor and a true highlight of my University of Arkansas experience,” said Tanner Bone, who received the award in 2016.

“The leadership opportunities I was able to experience while on campus were second to none, and it is thanks to past campus leaders like Mr. Woods who came before that those opportunities exist,” he said. “To be recognized for campus leadership is a reflection of the many peers, faculty, and staff who invest themselves in the Razorback community every day,” Bone said.

The former President of the Associated Student Government, Bone utilizes his leadership skills in his career as an Associate Instructional Designer on the Global Business team for AppNexus, an internet-technology company in New York City. He also serves as the membership chairman of the New York City chapter of the Arkansas Alumni Association.

Hilary Zedlitz, who also received the Henry Woods award in 2016, said she was reluctant about attending the University of Arkansas until she was persuaded by friends and family to get involved in campus life.

“I did,” she said, “and that made the U of A feel like home.”

She said receiving the award was one of the highlights of her college career.

“I never expected to be recognized for any of that involvement, but receiving the Henry Woods Student Leadership Award solidified those positive experiences for me, and I ended up feeling that I was a valued member of the community,” Zedlitz said.

She currently lives in Seattle, Washington where she is a member of the Seattle Service Corps, a division of the Episcopal Service Corps. Zedlitz serves as Assistant Port Chaplain at a non-profit group, which serves seafarers that come into the ports of Seattle, Everett and Tacoma. She is also planning to pursue a Ph.D. in Political Science.

Tina Fletcher received the Henry Woods award in 2008. She and her twin sister, Trina Fletcher, currently own Fletcher Education Solutions, LLC, in Washington, D.C.

First-generation college students, the Fletcher sisters are authors, consultants and motivational speakers sought out by schools, businesses, faith-based and non-profit organizations. Their goal is to positively impact the lives of others, especially women and youth through education, leadership development and sharing their personal story of success.

“Receiving the Henry Woods Student Leadership Award was very exciting and quite unexpected. Former Senator Blanche Lincoln presented me with the award while I was serving as an intern in her office – I was so surprised!” Fletcher said. “Being honored for serving in leadership roles I enjoyed so much is truly a blessing. To this very day I am still humbled by the honor. Go Hogs!”

Also living in the Washington D.C. area is attorney Dwayne Bensing, who received the Henry Woods award in 2007. He practices at the firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, LLP.

“The Henry Woods award validated the value of the skills I learned outside of the classroom through leadership in student activities,” he said. “Engaging with those various student groups prepared me for future leadership as much as anything I ever learned through my coursework. I’m proud to have had the opportunity to become a more well-rounded student at the U of A and cherish the memory of meeting Mr. Woods.”

Now working on his Ph.D. in political science as a Marshall Scholar at the University of Oxford, former recipient Mike Norton received the Henry Woods award in 2013.

“I am positive receiving the Henry Woods Student Leadership Award helped set me apart when I was applying for fellowships after graduation, distinguishing me as a student leader on campus and making those long hours working as an ASG Senator well worth it,” he said. “It was definitely an honor to be recognized among the some 4,000 graduates that year.”

Norton graduated summa cum laude from the U of A with degrees in agricultural economics and poultry science. Afterward, he worked for a year in Washington, D.C., as a White House intern for the Delta Regional Authority and for a Congressional member who deals with agricultural issues.

FUNDING FUTURES

“The Henry Woods award helped me to maintain a debt-free beginning to my career.”

Tori Pohlner Bogner

Kayln Williams

Michael Dodd

Jocelyn Murphy

Billy Fleming

Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Tori Pohlner Bogner

Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Kayln Williams
Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Michael Dodd
Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Jocelyn Murphy
Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Billy Fleming

Tori Pohlner Bogner is Director of Business Development-Northwest Division, at Baldwin & Shell Construction Company in Rogers. She was awarded the Henry Woods award in 2013. She said the award helped prepared her for entering “the real world.”

“I had spent all four years of high school preparing for the financial burden of a college degree, but in my last semester of college, I hadn’t thought a bit about how I would support myself until my first paycheck arrived,” she said.

“The Henry Woods award allowed me to pay for moving expenses and the first bills as a new college graduate,” she said, “and that helped me to maintain a debt-free beginning to my career.”

Bogner is also active in Junior League of Northwest Arkansas, the University of Arkansas Women’s Giving Circle, Arkansas Alumni Association, Leadership Fayetteville and Bentonville Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors.

Kayln Williams, who graduated with honors in international business, is a Senior Manager II for Private Brands Sourcing at Wal-Mart Corporation in Bentonville. She received the Henry Woods award in 2012.

“Beyond receiving my diploma, I feel the single greatest contributor to career readiness following graduation was my involvement in student government at the University of Arkansas, “ she said. “The Henry Woods Student Leadership Award was an incredibly generous honor acknowledging my greatest passion while at the university. I am beyond grateful for the award and utilized it to visit Italy and Spain before beginning my career,” Williams said.

Michael Dodd, who won the Henry Woods award with Kalyn, said it was an honor to be selected alongside of her.

He said, “It was very special because she always exuded the best in class, character, leadership and academic achievement.”

Dodd, who also works for Wal-Mart Corporation as a buyer in the Electronics Department said, “The legacy of Henry Woods and each student leader honored, should help future students see that campus involvement can really aid their personal development, with an added benefit of a financial reward.”

“Being recognized as one of only two students from a group as large as our graduating class truly increased my confidence in what I had to offer outside of academia,” said 2015 recipient Jocelyn Murphy.

“Knowing I had that distinction in my back pocket as I walked into my first job interview helped me answer their question, ‘Besides writing, what do you bring to the team?’ without hesitation.”

Murphy said it was humbling to see such an outpouring of support from her department at the award presentation.

“Seeing the faces of so many people who guided and supported me through the previous five years — as well as my parents who also came in town for the surprise — gathered together in celebration of the award is truly one of the most special memories I hold from my years at the U of A.”

Murphy is assistant editor of the What’s Up! entertainment section at the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette,where she writes about music, art, and all manner of fun events happening in the area.

For Billy Fleming, who was named a Henry Woods award recipient in 2011, it was a life-changing experience. Fleming said he had to wait tables and tend bar for most of his time as an undergraduate just to be able to pay for tuition.

“My folks always wanted to help my siblings and me with college—they never had the chance to go themselves,” he said. “They just weren’t in a position to do it, and it was awards like the Henry Woods Scholarship that enabled me to cut back on work, focus on my studies, and get more involved on campus. Without that kind of support, there’s no way I would have been able to serve as ASG President—and without that experience, it’s hard to imagine ending up at the White House or the University of Pennsylvania,” he said.

Billy, who recently earned his Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania, is the incoming Research Director of the Ian McHarg Center—an interdisciplinary project of the University of Pennsylvania that aims to integrate environmental science, public policy, and design. Prior to beginning his doctoral studies, Billy worked in the White House Domestic Policy Council under President Barack Obama and earned a graduate degree in community planning from the University of Texas.

What do they do?

Recipients of the award have followed in Woods’ footsteps by leading lives of services and continual learning. Award winners have found careers everywhere from elementary schools to the White House by always keeping leadership and public service a top priority.

Winners have pursued a degree of higher education.

U of A alums have received the Henry Woods Student Leadership Award.

Award recipients have worked for the local, state, and federal government.

Recipients practice or will practice law as attorneys in various disciplines.

U of A alums have received the Henry Woods Student Leadership Award.

Winners have pursued a degree of higher education.

Award recipients have worked for the local, state, and federal government.

Recipients practice or will practice law as attorneys in various disciplines.

LEGACY OF A LEADER

“Looking back, it was even more important to know that I was able to be a part of ‘a footprint in the sand’ — of carrying on the life and legacy of a great leader…”

Kelly Comer

Eddie Armstrong

Nathan Looney

Wesley Hunt

Dennis Burchette, Jr.

Cameron Woods

Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Kelly Comer
Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Eddie Armstrong
Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Nathan Looney
Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Wesley Hunt
Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Dennis Burchette, Jr.
Jordan Johnson won the Henry Woods award in 2000.

Cameron Woods

“Just recently, I met someone who grew up and went to school with Henry,” said Kelly Comer, a 2011 winner of the Henry Woods award.

“It was incredible to learn about his achievements from someone who knew him. It really re-enforced the significance of this award, and I am honored to have been a recipient,” she said.

Comer received her law degree and took a position with the Razorback athletic department, before working on a U.S. senate race.

Currently, she lives in Little Rock, where she works for a non-profit. Arkansas State Representative Eddie Armstrong, of Little Rock, Arkansas, received the Henry Woods award in 2001. He said it was an extreme honor to have received the award as a student.

“Looking back, it was even more important to know that I was able to be a part of ‘a footprint in the sand’ — of carrying on the life and legacy of a great leader and someone that has left an imprint on the University of Arkansas,” he stated.

Armstrong is serving his third term in the Arkansas House of Representatives. He represents the District 37, which includes Little Rock and a majority of Pulaski County.

For attorney Nathan Looney, the connection to Henry Woods was personal.

“I’ll always remember the first time that I met him,” he said. “He was in Little Rock to visit friends and called me, as he had just learned that I moved there for law school and grad school. I think it might have actually been my second night living there. I didn’t know anybody in town, so he invited me to dinner with a group of his close friends. I became great friends with him and everybody that came that night all because he took the time to include me,” he said.

Looney won the Henry Woods award in 2009. He practices at Waddell, Cole & Jones, in Jonesboro.

“The Henry Woods Student Leadership Award confirmed for me the importance of authenticity and individuality,” said Wesley Hunt, who received the award in 2005.

“As a leader in any field, you have to distinguish yourself from your peers, and the best way to do that is often through the pursuit of goals for which you are passionate.”

Hunt is an attorney who works as Senior Counselor for Entergy Arkansas in Little Rock. He represents the company in a wide range of regulatory matters before the Arkansas Public Service Commission.

Dennis Burchette Jr. said it was humbling to learn he had received the Henry Woods Student Leadership Award in 2015.

“It felt so rewarding to know that I was found to be worthy of such an honor,” he said.

Burchette, who graduated with a degree in psychology, works as a mental health professional with children and adolescents at Community HealthCORE in the Dallas, Texas, area. He says his leadership opportunities at the University of Arkansas gave him a solid foundation for his professional career.

“I credit so much of my ability and confidence in navigating difficult circumstances to what I learned from my time at the university,” he said.

“The Henry Woods Student Leadership Award reminded me of the Biblical quote of eating the ‘fruit of your labor’ (Psalms 128:2),” said Cameron Woods, no relation to Henry.

“The scholarship and recognition reaffirmed two age-old concepts for me: when you do good unto others, good things happen to you; and people are always paying attention.”

Cameron Woods was awarded the Henry Woods award in 2014 and was not expecting the recognition he received.

“I do not believe any of us who were recipients got involved for an acknowledgement –   rather, we saw a need and used our talents to meet those needs.”

Cameron is the first student to complete the J.D./M.S.Ed in Higher Education joint-degree program at Southern Illinois University School of Law. He has recently accepted a position with a Chicago-area corporation.

This year’s recipients, Victoria Maloch and Antonio Igbokidi, are taking their places in an illustrious gallery of student leaders at the University of Arkansas.

The Division of Student Affairs honored the pair during an award ceremony on April 28, 2017.

In accepting her award, Victoria Maloch said she hoped she would one day be able to leave a legacy like Woods’ and cited a Latin phrase which means, “to advance with truth as our guide.”

“As leaders, these truths must be our guide: we must know why we are here, what we are here to do and who we are here for,” she said.

Maloch will graduate with a major in agricultural business with a concentration in pre-law; she will also receive a double minor in agricultural communications and agricultural leadership. After graduation Maloch will participate in the Truman Scholar Summer Institute program working in the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs for USDA Rural Development. Afterward, she will begin a yearlong Truman-Albright Fellowship in the Office of Rural Health and Human Services at HHS.

Antonio Igbokidi said for him the award stands for what can be accomplished even when starting from very little. He said despite living below the poverty line, his single mother inspired him to always be aware that he was an example to others.

“For me it has been a privilege to be at the university,” he said. “I set out to be more than what I came from – so that others will aspire to do the same.”

Igbokidi will graduate with a major in biology and a minor in African American studies. He hopes to attend medical school at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences with the hope of becoming a physician in underserved areas of the state. His desire is to specialize in Developmental Pediatrics in order to give opportunities to all children, especially those who are underrepresented in society.

When Woods retired he didn’t slow down. He continued to actively participate in civic and community organizations.

He taught political science at Florida Keys Community College, wrote grants for AIDS Help and other non-profit agencies and was involved in political groups such as Lambda Democrats, the Key West and Lower Keys Democratic Club, and the LGBTA Caucus of the Florida Democratic Party.

Outside of politics, Woods was a multi-talented performer actively involved with the Waterfront Theater and served as its president overseeing a $400,000 restoration to the building. Woods’ death from a brain aneurysm in 2010 stunned his family and friends and left the community reeling.

In reflecting upon his death and the legacy he created, a local Key West newspaper, the Key West Citizen, printed this fitting tribute:

“When someone dies, it’s often said that he or she can’t be replaced. Henry Woods will be replaced. But it will be by many people – people he encouraged to take roles in government, to be involved in community activities. He taught them. They’re out there. They’ll succeed him. That’s what his life has been about.”

Woods’ example of leadership and community service can be seen in the students that came after him. His legacy is not forgotten but lives on in the Henry Woods award recipients and their own community leadership.

Do you want to give to student leadership?

Learn more about how your gifts can help support students like the Henry Woods award winners at the University of Arkansas. For more information about giving to Student Affairs, go to studentaffairs.uark.edu.