Welcome to Arkansas State University!

Educate • Enhance • Enrich

Our mission is ingrained in everything we do at Arkansas State. In this ongoing feature, we sit down with several members of the A-State community to find out what e3 means to them.

Robert Engelken

Professor of Electrical Engineering

Robert EngelkenRobert Engelken is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and is well known and respected on the campus of Arkansas State University and around the region.

Arkansas State educates leaders, enhances intellectual growth, and enriches lives”. This statement, now a part of A-State’s mission, is known as “e3”. The three components of e3 certainly sound appropriate for any university. However, how they are achieved in reality may not be trivial or obvious.

Although they certainly apply to all of my students, they probably most apply to my student research assistants. The opportunity to participate in high-level research has served as a major enhancement of their educations over the last 32 years of my being on the faculty at ASU. First, this allows them to apply the knowledge learned in classes to real world applications, for example, photovoltaic materials and systems. This adds interest and motivation to their continuing studies, indeed, enhances intellectual growth, and, in numerous cases, leads to follow-up graduate education and degrees. Intellectual growth is also enhanced by the technical communications associated with the positions. Students frequently make presentations to the research group and periodically at conferences such as the annual meeting of the Arkansas Academy of Science and the annual Create@State student research symposium at ASU. In some cases, these presentations are accompanied by written abstracts and papers. This is a “win-win” situation in that not only are student skills in obtaining, analyzing, and communicating data enhanced, but also the research productivity of the group is enhanced and documented.

Since there is typically a continuum in the age and class standings of these students, say, from freshmen through graduate students, there is opportunity for development of leadership skills within the group. Not only do students observe my leadership, they also exercise it among themselves as more senior, experienced students guide, help, and mentor the newer students. Thus, the research experience does, indeed, “educate leaders”.

The experience also enriches the students’ lives in numerous ways. As described above, it adds interest and perspective to the knowledge learned in classes. It develops leadership skills. However, it also provides opportunity for social interaction and development of deep lifelong friendships. Many of my past student research assistants from years ago still stay in-touch with me and, more importantly each other.

The experience provides excellent material for their resumes, recommendations, and applications, say to graduate school or jobs. It also provides some pay. Students typically work 12-20 hours per week, with undergraduates receiving minimum hourly wage and graduate students a stipend. I receive the opportunity to mentor and mold young people into first rate scholars and engineers/scientists, hence, providing fulfillment in my job. In all of these and other ways, the experience “enriches lives”.

Ali Khalil

Instructor in Developmental Studies

Ali KhalilAli Khalil is an instructor in developmental studies at Arkansas State and a member of the First Year Experience team. Khalil is a graduate of A-State, and brings his understanding of the needs of students to make a strong transition to collegiate work to his definition of e3.

As an educator at Arkansas State University, I live this mission through my daily interaction with my students. As far as educating leaders, in my Making Connections course which is the A-State First Year Experience course, I instruct my students in the principals and ethics of being a good leader in class, the university, and our society. For example, I encourage my students to become involved with the campus community through various organizations. I also urge them to develop the leadership skills they need to serve in those roles by actively participating in the numerous events that the university offers.

In my Academic Literacy course, I focus on developing and improving my student’s writing skills to help them in becoming more effective communicators. In this class, students are often placed in cooperative assignments which allow them to develop leadership skills within their peer groups and develop their team spirit.

In Making Connections, I embrace the university’s mission of enhancing the students’ intellectual growth through developing their public speaking skills by implementing many oral presentation assignments on a variety of topics that pertain to our society and the world. Because enriching lives is part of the mission of Arkansas State, I implement this vision through persistent commitments to my students’ successes. For instance, I pursue an open door policy for individual tutoring. I also provide my students with a road map to solve their own issues by relating their problems to my personal experiences and highlighting methods I adopted to overcome similar barriers.

Roy Aldridge

Professor of Physical Therapy

Roy AldridgeRoy Aldridge is a professor of physical therapy in the College of Nursing and Health Professions at Arkansas State. He brings the perspective of both practitioner and educator to how e3 impacts his teaching and students.

Educate Leaders

In my area of physical therapy, I get the opportunity to introduce students to the greatest field in the world. As a physical therapist, we get the opportunity to work with people as they accomplish some truly amazing things. From the NICU to the athletic field, to the industry, to the long term care facility; a physical therapist assists patients in accomplishing amazing things. I get the pleasure to educate these future leaders in physical therapy.

Enhances Intellectual Growth

In physical therapy we challenge our students to go places they have never been before. The intense curriculum of basic sciences, along with clinical management courses, as well as clinical internships, challenges the students from day one until they graduate with their doctoral degree three years later.

Enrich Lives

I have an opportunity in my research endeavor to assist veterans that have served our country. Using a horse as a tool in therapy for these veterans, amazing things occur. Not only has the hippotherapy improved many of the physical limitations these individuals have presented with. But also the emotional and psychological aspects of their lives have been improved with the use of hippotherapy. There is no greater enrichment of lives that I can be honored to do.

Cherisse Jones-Branch

Associate Professor of History

Dr. Cherisse Branch-JonesCherisse Jones-Branch is an associate professor of history at Arkansas State, and brings her passion for teaching to her view of e3.

As a faculty member at A-State I am proud to educate leaders who will go on to represent the university locally, nationally, and globally. Working with our students is the best part of my job. I am honored to teach at a university that enhances the intellectual growth of our students as they learn from faculty members who come from a diversity of backgrounds and life experiences with a wealth of high-level training in a variety of disciplines from the best universities in the country.

My teaching and my research focus on U.S., African American, and Civil Rights History. Because we are all dramatically impacted by past and current events, I love to talk to my students about how what we read or discuss in class demonstrates change or the lack thereof over time. I enjoy sharing my research experiences with students outside of the classroom as well. I really like to impress upon students the importance of embracing educational opportunities not just for the four or so years they attend A-State, but for a lifetime. It’s just the best investment they can make in themselves and the world they will enrich as A-State graduates.

Dr. Ryan Kelly

Assistant Professor of Reading

Dr. Ryan Kelly Educate is at the core of what I do in Teacher Education—with a downstream effect of education that impacts students in Northeast Arkansas and beyond throughout the careers of our graduates.  The education I bring to my pre-service teachers is one of classroom learning and field-based mentorship.  

I strive to Enhance this process with a deeper theoretical core of support.  I firmly believe that we, as faculty, should always strive to unlock a deeper level of theoretical foundation for our students, to empower their thinking by unlocking the social world, constructive processes, historical roots of educational policy, and the powerful intertwining of literacy with every step of the learning process. 

Whenever possible, I Enrich the outcome of learning with a downstream support that further builds a professional educator as an advanced practitioner and as a scholar.  Most often in our Graduate Reading programs I am able to support this deeper engagement in the field by empowering student inquiry and research, and supporting the strides that help them share their work, such as strides in literacy coaching, closer examination of reading interventions, or thesis research, at conference presentations and other academic venues. 

Ultimately, it is my hope that e3 represents the comprehensive outcome of pre-service and graduate level programs in Teacher Education and Reading—a lifelong learner and scholar, devoted to a theoretically rooted perspective on learning, and the willingness to directly inquire and engage with the field of teaching.

Dr. Chris Harper

Assistant Professor of Communication Studies

Dr. Chris HarperFor me the e3 concept is about one simple thing, "Changing the World".


I am one of those idealistic individuals who entered the academic arena because I really believe teachers have the opportunity to change the world one student at a time.


The e3 mantra is a reminder that my job and our institution has a greater purpose and higher calling than teaching students to simply regurgitate facts. Our mission is to empower students to reach beyond themselves towards a brighter future than they envision on their own.


My job is mentor, catalyst, trainer, counselor, role model, teacher. The three themes of leadership training, intellectual growth and personal enrichment have become the overarching narrative of what we do at Arkansas State University, "Change the World".

Dr. Shane Hunt

Associate Professor of Marketing

Dr. Shane HuntE3 is at the heart of how I design class assignments and projects as a Marketing professor here at A-State. My classes have worked on projects in the last several years to help a variety of small businesses and non-profits develop marketing plans to accelerate their growth and increase their chances for success. These types of projects help to educate future business leaders and entrepreneurs about the process and challenges when starting their own business.

I have also worked to enhance intellectual growth as we have partnered with the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA to allow our sales students the opportunity to sell actual tickets to a professional basketball game. The students are challenged to develop personal sales plans for each of their prospects, provide sales forecasts, and ultimately close the sale.

Perhaps the best part though, is that all of the profits the students generate from selling the tickets are donated to the Jonesboro Kans 4 Kids program which provides food on weekends and school breaks for children in our community who would otherwise go without. The students get to see first-hand how their business talents and leadership enrich the lives of those most in need right here in our own community. I have been ask to present research papers and speak about these great projects at multiple conferences throughout the country. If we deliver e3 for our students here at Arkansas State University, I believe the benefits will be felt for generations to come throughout our state, region, and the world

More interviews coming soon...