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Get to Know the Staff: Jon Carvell


When the skies darken or the sirens wail, A-State’s campus emergency coordinator Jon Carvell is your go-to staff member in case of zombie apocalypse. Learn more about a former Red Wolves rugby player who spends his time helping protect campus.

Jon Carvell

Jon Carvell

Place of birth?
Jonesboro, Arkansas
Emily Carvell (spouse), Lydia Carvell (daughter), Norah Carvell (daughter) Richard Carvell (father), Sue Carvell (mother), James Carvell, David Carvell, Dean Collins and Rich Carvell, Jr. (brothers).
Why did you choose A-State?
I could have gone anywhere in the state without too much financial difficulty, but I grew up here, and I love Jonesboro. This is home, and to me A-State and Jonesboro have a special relationship. Jonesboro is home, so A-State is home. Quite literally, in fact, have to I apologize frequently to the museum director here, for all of the fingerprints I left on the alligator display as a kid roaming the museum during the summer months. I joke with her that the “Do Not Touch” sign on that display was put up because of my younger brother and I. Sorry, Marti...
What makes a good staff member?
Sincerely caring about the university, and understanding that one is always standing on the shoulders of those who came before. When I talk to students, I like to tell them that I went to school here, I was an athlete here, I have family attending here now, so I love this place, and I am as invested in it as they are. I loved the experience I got here as a student, and I want today’s students to have an even greater experience than I did. I want to hoist them onto my shoulders, so to speak, as was done for me as a student and an employee.
Your philosophy on working with students in seven words:
Genuine relationships are the key to success.
Before you retire I want to...
Help to create a building-specific annex (or supplemental plan) to the A-State Emergency Procedures Handbook for every building on campus, and empower occupants with the knowledge and experience to exercise their plan with dual goals of continuous evaluation and outreach to the campus community. I want all students, staff and faculty have the opportunity to participate and learn about their role in any emergency OR host a full-scale zombie invasion exercise on the A-State campus.
What music is playing in your car?
Arkansas Roots on KASU
What is your favorite podcast?
Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine
What is the one thing you wish you could teach everyone about your office on campus?
While our office has some oversight regarding safety and emergency management, these things always require a group effort. Everyone on campus plays a role in safety and preparedness, and I always welcome questions from students and employees. In fact, they kind of excite me. It tells me people are engaged, and I can work with that. Complacency is a safety guy’s worst enemy.
What are you working on right now?
A few of my current projects include planning for a community emergency training course coming to campus in late June, working with Disability Services to highlight emergency procedures for at-risk populations, and writing a tabletop exercise for RAs and Grad Hall Directors in Residence Life.
If you could have another job or career, what would it be and why?
I love folklore. If I could make my job collecting the everyday stories of people who grew up in the Mississippi Delta and the Ozark Foothills, I would do it today. Robert Johnson’s Crossroads are in Arkansas (not Mississippi!), Johnny Cash is from Dyess, and Al Greene is from Forrest City. Our musical heritage is the birth of rock and roll brought on by the confluence of old-time country and the delta blues. I don’t think I would have known about all this when I did unless I had studied about it at A-State as an undergrad. KASU is doing a great job highlighting this with their Arkansas Roots program. Part of me wishes this was a standard part of Arkansas history curriculum for young folks, but on the other hand musical traditions passed down through generations is what makes folklore so special.
In college, I was known for...
I was quiet, and generally would not say much unless it needed to be said. Rugby brought me out of my shell a bit, but if you ask any of my teammates, they would say I was pretty reserved off the field. I’ve always been more action-oriented.
Who was your favorite teacher (and why)?
Dr. Deborah Chappel was the first advisor I had who really made me feel like me earning my first degree here was something important to her, not just me. In fact, I would not have graduated when I did if it was not for her, and may not have had the opportunity to work for A-State, which ultimately led me to the job I have now. I had a chance to work closely with Dr. Chappel on emergency plans for the Humanities building a couple of years ago, and it was another great experience I’m proud we got to share.
My favorite motion picture is...
The Empire Strikes Back
The television series I must TiVo...
You may not be surprised reading some of my other answers, but I am pumped that there are Star Wars cartoons I can watch with my little girls, which may really be an excuse to watch them myself. My oldest could hum the iconic lines of the Imperial March before she knew her ABCs. Oh, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, can’t forget that.
The last book I read for fun was...
Mere Christianity
My favorite trip was...
Honeymoon in St. Lucia.
If I could travel anywhere it would be...
A remote cabin just about anywhere in the mountains, preferably near a trout stream when they’re in season.
Four people I’d take to coffee...
Coach Curt Huckaby, Uncle Troy Rhoads, Brother Tommy Toombs and Chancellor Kelly Damphousse.
The best advice I ever received was...
Never forget: You are always standing on the shoulders of those who came before you.
What is the one thing I’ve learned I’d tell my college self...
Get involved with a campus organization early. Especially now, there are so many opportunities to find where you can really feel like you belong. For me, it was rugby. I have life-long friends that I would not have had without that program.
My hobby is...
Music is my hobby, whether picking around a bit or catching it live. I would not call myself a musician, though. That title goes to my brother, James. He’s a true artist, and I’d say watching him perform is a big part of what makes music a hobby. My wife gave me a six-string banjo as a wedding gift. I’m no banjo picker by any means, but being a six-string means it’s basically a guitar, plays like a guitar, so it is a load of fun to pick up and mess around with. And our daughters love it, so I’ve been doing that a bit more lately.
My passion is...
I’m a new dad. Right now, our wonderful daughters, Lydia and Norah, are my passion. Even thoughts of returning to my former passions, like rugby, revolve around them. Jonesboro has a new men’s rugby team, the Chiefs, and I have been trying to join some of my former teammates out there regularly. Early fatherhood presents obvious barriers, but I have to say a big part of what makes me want to get back out there is looking forward to my girls’ reaction to their daddy on the field.
My pro sports team is...
St. Louis Cardinals
My pet peeve is...
When people say there is nothing to do in Jonesboro. Compared to my time in school, there are tons of more things to do here. It is beginning to truly feel like a college town.
My favorite meal is...
Off the grill: Steak, potatoes, squash and cabbage.
A perfect day is...
The sun coming up with ‘cakes on the griddle, and life being nothing but a funny funny riddle. Then rain, no severe thunderstorms or flash floods please, just a good, light, sleepy rain.
My spirit cartoon character is...
Has Han Solo ever been a cartoon? I’m pretty sure he’s in a comic book at least. Does that count?
What I like about Jonesboro is...
I am proud of what Downtown Jonesboro has become over the last 10 years or so. Folks might take it for granted that you can hear live music there just about any night of the week, but that was not always the case.
Cats or dogs?
I would normally say dogs for sure, but we adopted a cat that wandered up at our place, and she is growing on me. She earns her keep, proudly dispatching a snake right at the end of spring. So I let the cat in at night, but our little dog does not have to earn that privilege.
E-book or hardback?
Beach or mountains?
Mountains, but then my favorite vacation was St. Lucia, and we got to experience both.
Dinner or supper?
It depends on formality. Lunch is something you grab with one or two other people, or by yourself. Dinner at midday is when you eat with a large group, like for a retirement celebration or family reunion. The same rules apply in the evening; dinner is routine, and supper is a special occasion.
The one thing I’d take to a desert island (and a boat is not an answer)...
A hatchet.
I wish I could...
Become more self-sufficient by learning to garden, becoming a better fisherman, or maybe just finding the time to do things like that more often.
Only my friends know I...
You have to be my friend to know...
My favorite saying is...
After taking this job it has been, “One bite, or rather one building, at a time...”