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ASU Museum, historic site, administrator receive awards

April 27, 2010 -- At the 44th annual conference of the Arkansas Museums Association (AMA), the Arkansas State University Museum, the university's Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in Piggott, and administrator Dr. Ruth Hawkins received awards.

The ASU Museum hosted the conference at the Jonesboro campus on
March 23–26 with almost 100 museum directors and staff from arASU’s Dr. Ruth Hawkins accepts the Peg Newton Smith Lifetime Achievement Award from Steve Rucker, president of the Arkansas Museums Association, at its awards banquet on March 25. ound the state. The conference theme was 'Back to Basics,' alluding to this year’s focus on good basic museum practices. Awards were presented at the banquet on March 25 held at ASU's Cooper Alumni Center. The presenter was Kimberly Williams of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Williams, a 1991 ASU graduate, is the travel writer for 26 counties in the Arkansas Delta, eastern Arkansas and north central Ozarks. She has been with Parks and Tourism since 2006.

Nominations for awards were submitted by AMA members for museum programs in 2009. Winners were not announced until the banquet. After the AMA selection committee evaluated and voted on the winners, Arkansas State University-Jonesboro was honored in several categories.

The Arkansas State University Museum won Honorable Mention in the area of Educational Programs–Children for its "Arkansas History Children's Art Project." Present to accept the award were museum director Dr. Marti Allen and Lenore Shoults, a 2006 ASU graduate and museum curator.

The ASU Museum was awarded an additional Honorable Mention in the Exhibits category for "Exploring the Frontier" as well as in the In-House Exhibits category for "Portals of the Soul: Ancient Peoples of Northeast Arkansas."

For the category of In-House Exhibits, honorable mention was awarded to ASU's Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in Piggott for the timeline exhibition called "The Piggott Connection." Present to accept the award were educational coordinator Deanna Dismukes and Diana Sanders, a 1993 ASU graduate, who is assistant director and facilities manager.

The culmination of the evening was the presentation of the Peg Newton Smith Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented to ASU's Dr. Ruth Hawkins.

Hawkins, who graduated from ASU in 1982, has spent more than three decades at ASU, originally serving as vice president for institutional advancement and directing memorable events such as the 1984 campus visit from President Bill Clinton to dedicate the Library. She directed ASU's 75th anniversary in 1984 and is currently chairing its Centennial celebration, marking the institution's first hundred years. She is director of ASU's System Initiatives for Technical and Educational Support (SITES), which includes responsibilities for the Southern Tenant Farmers Museum at Tyronza, Lakeport Plantation in Lake Village, and the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center at Piggott. She is also executive director of Arkansas Delta Byways, a 15-county tourism association that promotes Eastern Arkansas and its two national scenic byways: Crowley's Ridge Parkway and the Great River Road.

Hawkins also serves as adjunct faculty member in the Heritage Studies Ph.D. Program, ASU-Jonesboro. Hawkins holds a doctorate in higher education and student personnel from the University of Mississippi, Oxford; a master’s degree in political science from ASU; a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Missouri, Columbia; and an associate of arts in liberal arts, Columbia College, Columbia, Missouri.

Hawkins has received numerous awards for her contributions to heritage tourism.  Some of her most recent awards include the Michael Award for Outstanding Tourism Region of the Year, 2009, by the Arkansas Hospitality Association; Excellence in Preservation Through Restoration Award, 2009, by the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas; the Arkansas History Association Diamond Award, 2008, for efforts in restoring, preserving and promoting the heritage of some of Arkansas’s most significant historic sites; the National Preservation Honor Award, 2008, presented by the National Trust for Historic Preservation; Arkansas Tourism Person of the Year, 2005, Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism; Distinguished Service Award, 2005, Mississippi River Parkway Commission; and the Tourism Special Achievement of the Year for delta heritage activities, Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism, 2000. She is a member of the Arkansas Women’s Forum and was appointed to the Arkansas History Commission by Governor Mike Beebe, 2009. Hawkins also
serves as a technical advisor to the Mississippi River Parkway Commission of Arkansas and as a board member for Mississippi River Trail, Inc.

In accepting the AMA award, Hawkins expressed special thanks to Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, a 1968 ASU graduate, who has been a strong supporter of the value of museums and historic sites.

The Peg Newton Smith Lifetime Achievement Award was named in honor of the late Mrs. George Rose (Peg) Smith of Little Rock, who was instrumental in the state's historic preservation and educational activities. Smith was involved in the organization of AMA in the early 1960s. Peg Smith died on July 20, 2003.  In recognition of her lifetime commitment to preserving Arkansas’ heritage, the AMA Board created the Peg Newton Smith Award to honor other worthy recipients.

For more information on the AMA event, contact Diana Sanders at 870-598-3487 or Paula Miles at 870-972-2803.

ASU’s Dr. Ruth Hawkins accepts the Peg Newton Smith Lifetime Achievement Award from Steve Rucker, president of the Arkansas Museums Association, at its awards banquet on March 25.

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