23 Jan Honorees selected for UCA Night of Distinction
The University of Central Arkansas will be moving to the newly renovated McCastlain Ballroom on Saturday, April 29, for its Seventh Annual Night of Distinction.
Three individuals will be honored at the event: Distinguished Alumni Award recipients Charlie Strong and Herby Branscum Jr. and Alumni Service Award winner Sue Voegele.
501 LIFE is a sponsor of the event, which will begin at 6 p.m.
Proceeds from Night of Distinction benefit student scholarships. Please contact Beth Adair at [email protected] or 501.450.3378 for sponsorship information.
Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are recognized for outstanding contribution to the university, community, state or society; outstanding achievement in a particular field of endeavor; possessing a reputation that enhances the reputation of the university and serves as an example to UCA students; and contributing to the goals or the welfare of the University.
2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award
Charlie Strong, a 1982 UCA graduate, is the head football coach at the University of South Florida.
Strong is a two-time conference coach of the year, a proven recruiter and one of the best defensive minds in college football. Since 1995, Strong has coached 15 players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft and had 37 taken in the first four rounds.
A native of Batesville, Strong was a three-year letter winner (1979-81) and three-time all-conference safety while playing football at UCA, which reached the NAIA Playoffs each of his final two seasons.
Strong entered the coaching profession upon graduation from UCA. After several stops around the country, he received his first defensive coordinator assignment at the University of South Carolina under legendary coach Lou Holtz from 1999-2002. While at South Carolina, he helped guide the Gamecocks to a Top 20 national ranking in 2000. It was this success that earned Strong his first finalist nod for the Frank Broyles Award, which goes to the top assistant coach in college football.
Strong served four separate stints working for the University of Florida’s football program in various capacities. Strong was a vital part of two national championships as defensive coordinator at the University of Florida. In 2009, Strong was named a finalist for the Broyles Award for the second straight year.
Strong made his head coaching debut at the University of Louisville in 2010. The Cardinals made four consecutive bowl appearances under Strong, winning the Sugar Bowl over No. 4 Florida in 2013. He was recognized as a two-time Big East Coach of the Year.
Strong became the head coach at the University of Texas in 2014 and rebuilt the roster, put his stamp on the culture and elevated the program’s infrastructure. His tenure at Texas included wins over No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 12 Baylor and No. 10 Notre Dame.
Strong was inducted into the University of Central Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
Herby Branscum Jr.
2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award
Herby Branscum Jr., a 1963 UCA graduate, practiced law in Arkansas for more than 50 years in Pulaski and Perry counties. During that time, Branscum served eight years as District Judge of Perry County (1974-1982) and 11 years on the Arkansas State Claims Commission (1974-1985), during which he served his last six years as chairman. He served 10 years on the Arkansas Highway Commission (1991-2001).
Branscum served as president of the Arkansas Young Democrats from 1970 to 1972 and hosted the National Convention of the Young Democrats of America in Hot Springs. He was chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party from 1976-1982 and was on the National Democratic Committee for six years. Branscum was awarded the Harry S. Truman Award for outstanding leadership by the Young Democrats of America in 1979.
Concurrent with his law career, Branscum was involved throughout the local banking industry. He was on the board of directors of Perry County Bank and Chart Bank from 1982-2008. During this period, Branscum served intermittently on an annual basis as chairman of the board with his partner, Robert Hill.
Branscum was instrumental in organizing First Community Bank in Conway, which was later sold to First Security Bank of Searcy. Branscum served on the First Community Bank Board of Directors for three years.
Branscum has been active in his local community by organizing a Jaycees chapter in his hometown, serving as its president and also president of the local Lions Club. He and his wife regularly attend First Baptist Church in Perryville, where he has taught an adult Sunday school class for 37 years.
In addition to Branscum graduating from UCA, his wife, Billie Jo, and their three children, James, Chris and Elizabeth, have all attended UCA. He has maintained a close relationship with UCA, having served on the board of trustees from 1985 to 1991 and on the UCA Foundation Board from 1989 to 2004.
In 2016, Branscum received the Governor Ben Laney Alumni Award for leadership and achievements from UCA’s Sigma Tau Gamma Chapter.
Growing up in the 1940s and 1950s as one of 11 children, Branscum understood the importance of working hard and obtaining a higher education. This understanding led him to establish the Herby Branscum Jr. Scholarship at UCA more than 15 years ago.
2017 Alumni Service Award Winner
Sue Voegele, a 1962 UCA graduate, has been an active UCA Bear since 1958, when she first stepped onto campus.
After graduating from UCA (then Arkansas State Teachers College), Sue worked as a schoolteacher for 35 years. She also coached volleyball and tennis.
Sue and her husband, Bud, are life members of the UCA Alumni Association. Sue is serving her second term on the alumni board of directors and is on the scholarship committee.
She also served as the chairman for the Class of 1962 Half-Century Club Induction and the Alpha Sigma Tau Housing Committee. Impressively, Sue has only missed two UCA homecoming games since graduating in 1962.
In addition to the alumni association, Voegele is a member of the Women’s Giving Circle and Purple Circle. She is a member of the North Little Rock Women’s Club, P.E.O., the board of trustees for the First United Methodist Church in North Little Rock and Beta Sigma Phi. She is also a volunteer with community ministries.