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Salty Dog gets upgrades for students’ return

The Lyon community will be treated to a new Salty Dog experience when they return to campus this spring.

The College completed additions to the Salty Dog Coffee Shop this fall, and it now features a deck behind the shop and a rear door. 

Director of Dining Services Lorenzo Surrisi said one of the windows was removed to put the door in place. The new deck offers outdoor seating for about 20 people, he said.

“We hope it will be used by an enthusiastic student body during class breaks and in the evenings,” he said.

The expansion will help the Salty Dog be compliant with new COVID-19 protocols as well, Surrisi said.

“From a COVID standpoint, we need to be compliant with social distancing norms. We felt it was important from a safety standpoint to have an egress door at the back of the Salty Dog.”

He continued, “Previously, you used to walk in, wait in line, make your purchase and walk out past the other people waiting in line. As a practical issue, it was kind of uncomfortable having to walk past the people waiting in line and squeeze through the doorway.”



Service Manager Tracy Allen said the Salty Dog will also have new menu additions next semester. 

“We’re going to be offering meal exchange,” she said. 

Students on meal plans will have the option to get “Grab and Go” meals at the Salty Dog, such as sandwiches, salads, wraps, sides and drinks instead of going to Edwards Commons.

“It’s a nice addition to the existing service,” Surrisi said. “It used to be that you could only use declining balance dollars from your meal plan. Now you’ll be able to use an actual swipe from your meal plan.”

Allen said the Salty Dog will also offer a “breakfast exchange,” where students, staff and faculty will be able to come in and purchase breakfast sandwiches and other items.

“It’s something new we haven’t offered before,” she said. “We tried it during our brief spring semester last year and found it was very popular.”

Surrisi said a new team of baristas will be starting this spring, and the Salty Dog will attempt to resume coffee delivery service.

“That will hopefully be a positive for campus,” he said. “We’ll be announcing the guidelines and our hotline for delivery closer to the spring semester.”

Surrisi said the College plans to do some further work on the Salty Dog in the future.

“I’m looking at putting a fire pit on the deck and getting some electrical service installed so people can charge their devices and listen to music and that sort of thing,” he said.

Surrisi continued, “We think that even after the coffee shop closes the deck will be a place to gather late in the evening and have impromptu events.”

While social distancing will limit those ideas for now, he believes the outdoor space will prove to be very valuable over time.

The Salty Dog will resume operations at the end of January. 


at Friday, December 4, 2020

Ready to play: Scots take steps to return to competition

Lyon College Athletics is doing everything possible to make sure student-athletes can safely compete in the sports they love this spring.

The Athletics Department Policies and Procedures were announced on Nov. 9. 

“We want the students and parents to understand that we’re going to put their safety first,” said Director of Athletics Kevin Jenkins.

He said athletics will follow the guidelines laid out by state and local agencies, as well as the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), American Midwest Conference (AMC), and Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) protocols and the College’s personal athletic protocols.


Expectations for Student-Athletes

Jenkins advises student-athletes that it is crucial to follow safety protocols even when they are away from team activities.

“The athletic protocols are really important, but it’s just as important that they maintain these safety measures in their dorms, their classrooms and the dining hall,” he said.

Most exposure happens outside of the court, Jenkins said.

“If we want to play and have the opportunity to compete in the sports we love, then we have to be careful.”

He concluded, “We want students to be able to play. They have to do the best they can to stay safe and healthy so they can compete.”



COVID Coordinator and Head Athletic Trainer Shawn Tackett said the plan is for all of the College’s teams to have their competitive seasons this spring.

“Most of the teams will be doing limited schedules,” Tackett said. “For example, football would normally have about 10 games, but we’re going to have about six this spring.”



Student-athletes will do daily screenings via the Campus Clear app, and they will also be screened before the first team event of the day, whether it is weight conditioning, training, practice or a team meeting.

“They will have to go through a screening process again per AMC policy,” Tackett said.

Student-athletes will have their temperature taken and go through the screening process. Those forms will be submitted to athletic training staff for record purposes, and NAIA requires that daily screenings also be submitted via the website.

“That’s going to be the biggest change for practices,” Tackett said. “If you’re in a certain group for a rotation of drills, then that is the group you will be with the whole time. That will help limit cross exposure and make contact tracing easier if we do have a positive case.”

When student-athletes are not doing the practice activity, they will be required to wear masks, Jenkins said.

“When you go out there and practice, they can take it off, but otherwise you have to have it on.”



New protocols will be in place when traveling for games.

Jenkins said student-athletes will have their temperature taken and be asked a series of questions to screen for COVID-19 symptoms before departing. If a team departs more than three hours before their match begins, they will be re-screened at the host institution.

He said Lyon is trying to limit overnight travel as much as possible to limit exposure.

“There will be a limited amount of overnight travel,” Jenkins said, “because there will be some contests on the road.”

Tackett said student-athletes will be socially distanced as much as possible when traveling in buses and vans.

“We’re going to have a controlled environment,” he said. “People in similar positions on the team, such as offensive linemen, will sit together to limit cross exposure into other groups.”

Tackett continued, “Hopefully, we can also sit people together who live near each other in their dorm.”

Everyone will be required to wear a mask the entire trip.



“When you’re not in competition, coaches and student-athletes will be required to wear masks,” Jenkins said. “They will also be socially distanced as much as possible when not in play.”

Chairs and benches will be spaced out when possible, Jenkins said, and all student-athletes will have their own water bottles.



The amount of spectators will be limited at games, and they will be screened when they enter athletic facilities.

“Visitors will not be allowed to attend contests on the road,” Jenkins said. “It’s like our policy here. There may be fans, but only on the home side.”

For home games, depending on the venue’s limited capacity, he said only students, faculty, staff and family members of Lyon College student-athletes will be allowed. A student-athlete will be allowed to give two passes to their game, so that two family members can attend. 

Tackett said Lyon will ask spectators to socially distance themselves in the stands and try to control spacing as much as possible.

Efforts are being made to livestream all games for free, Jenkins said, so that people in the community can still watch.

“As long as we have staff to be able to cover it all, then all of our events here will be livestreamed for people who can’t come or won’t be able to come,” he said.

at Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Guest speaker discusses neutron stars with Lyon students

Remote instruction has not stopped Lyon faculty from inviting stellar guest lecturers to speak to their students.

Dr. Matthew Benacquista, professor emeritus from University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Program Office at the National Science Foundation in Astronomy from 2017 to 2020, gave a series of guest lectures to Associate Professor of Physics Stuart Hutton’s class from Nov. 16 through Nov. 20.

Benacquista has worked on the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) gravitational wave mission since 1995 and was a member of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) scientific collaboration from 2006 to 2014. He is also the co-author of two textbooks: An Introduction to the Evolution of Single and Binary Stars and Classical Mechanics.

He spoke to Lyon students and alumni, who were invited to sit in on the virtual lectures, about how to compute the structure and size of neutron stars. He finished on Nov. 20 with a qualitative discussion of how heavy elements, such as gold, are formed in the debris ejected from a double neutron star merger, such as the one discovered by LIGO in 2017.

Although the lectures were virtual, Benacquista did not find any challenges with the technical aspect of teaching the course remotely.

“The students in Stuart’s class are very attentive,” he said, “and I had a lively question and answer period on Friday.”

“Having Matt lecture three times is a wonderful thing for Lyon and my Modern Physics students,” Hutton said. “He is the smartest man I have ever known.”

Tiffany Angotti, ’16, was glad Hutton was open to alumni attending Benacquista’s lectures.

“I am an active learner and love to see how real life scenarios relate to the courses I studied at Lyon,” she said. “I was so excited [Benacquista] was covering the topics about stars colliding because of the recent occurrence of just that scenario! It was so neat!”

Senior Holden Phillips enjoyed learning about neutron star mergers and how those mergers produce heavy elements through different processes.

“His wealth of knowledge was fascinating.”

at Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Lyon senior receives Honorable Mention at virtual INBRE Conference

Allison Mundy (left) and Olivia Echols presented research they had conducted on the water quality of the Eleven Point and Black River watersheds this summer at the INBRE Conference.


Despite presenting virtually, Lyon students still received awards at the Arkansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) Conference on Nov. 6 and 7.

Senior Allison Mundy received an Honorable Mention for her project, “Macroinvertebrate communities along a gradient of poultry houses.” To prepare for the presentation, she worked closely with Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Allyn Dodd and senior Olivia Echols, her lab partner who also presented research at the conference.

“I was not expecting to get an Honorable Mention!” Mundy said. “It’s an honor to receive that award, and I’m thankful for all the time my mentors have put into improving my presentation skills.”

Junior Hannah Wu gave a presentation about osmoregulatory proteins in axolotls, which she researched this summer with Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Maryline Jones. She rehearsed her presentation multiple times to prepare for the conference.

“The experience was nerve-racking and stressful because there are a lot of other presenters from other schools that are just as good as all of us,” Wu said.

Fortunately, presenting her research virtually made things less intimidating. 

“Not only was I able to improve my public speaking skills and share my experiences,” Wu said, “but I was also able to learn about other scientific research, which is a double win.”

Sophomore Michael Uecker presented “Immunolocalization of Osmoregulatory Proteins in Axolotl, Ambystoma mexicanum.” His project is part of the ongoing research in Jones’ lab on axolotls. To prepare, he practiced and reached out to peers that have presented at conferences in the past to perfect his technique.

“It was tough getting prepared during this very fast-paced semester, but it worked out well,” Uecker said.

He continued, “The experience was fun and very unique. It was cool to see the different projects other undergraduate students are working on.”

Jones said the INBRE Conference is a great opportunity for students to present months of research to an audience of undergraduate students and professors. 

“Our students did a wonderful job whether it was their first or eighth time presenting their work,” she said. “They definitely gain experience and improve their skills as they go. I am proud of our students, and I look forward to their next presentation!”

Mundy encourages other Lyon students to present every chance they get.

“I presented this research for the first time in the summer of 2019,” she said. “Since then, I have presented eight times to many different audiences, which definitely contributed to my award from INBRE.”

Uecker advises students that they will get nervous, but the presentation will turn out fine.

“I definitely thought it was going to be a trainwreck for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed presenting and having the opportunity to show my research to other undergraduate students and professors.”

Wu said presenting at conferences also gives students the chance to develop connections with doctors and other professionals.

“I would say to just go for it,” she said. “It might be intimidating, but the more you present the more comfortable you become!”

Dodd said she is continually impressed by Lyon students’ talents.

“They fielded questions from experts with ease,” she said. “Allison, Olivia, Hannah and Michael each did a phenomenal job representing the Lyon community at this regional conference. I am just so proud of each of them.”

at Tuesday, November 24, 2020

What will move-in days look like?

Lyon students will start returning to campus at the end of November for the spring semester, which will start Feb. 2, 2021. The move-in process has new steps to ensure their safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The spring move-in dates are as follows:

Nov. 29: Basketball, International student athletes, Residence Life Staff (RLS)

Dec. 22 – 27: No students on campus. If you are a student who needs a place to stay during this time, contact Residence Life and complete the special housing request form. 

Dec. 28: Wrestling/Cross Country/Track & Field/Basketball Teams

Jan. 8: RLS

Jan. 15: Spring Move-In Baseball, Soccer, Softball, Volleyball, Cheerleaders, Golf (All additional residential students)

Jan. 18 – 22: Student Community Project

Jan. 22: Football 

Jan. 27 – 30: New Student Orientation

Feb. 2: Classes Begin


Director of Residence Life Sh’Nita Mitchell said the move-in schedule was determined based on the number of students that will need to move in and the COVID-19 testing schedule.

“It provides time for the students to get acclimated to campus and to prepare to have a successful semester.”

When students arrive on campus, they will be greeted by a Residence Life Staff (RLS) member, such as a resident director (RD) or resident assistant (RA), that will present them with information on their spring housing assignment. Parents and other visitors will not be allowed into the residence halls this semester.

Depending on which move-in group students are in, they will either move into temporary housing or their assigned residence hall to isolate until they receive their COVID-19 test results. Students will be able to move their items into their assigned rooms using rollable bins. The RAs will be around to welcome students and answer any questions.

COVID Coordinator Shawn Tackett said Lyon College has a testing block set up for each group of students. After the students are tested, they will return to their room and quarantine until Lyon receives the test results.

“I’ll be shipping those samples out as soon as possible after the test,” Tackett said.

For intake testing, the College will use PCR tests, he said, which provide results between 3-5 days.

While students wait for their results, Student Life and Creative Dining will deliver meals to students in their residence halls. Isolated or quarantined students will be allowed to select items from the menus, and the meals will be delivered between 11 a.m. and noon and around 5 p.m.

Once the test results come back, students who tested negative for COVID-19 will be notified via email, and students who tested positive for COVID-19 will be notified via a phone call so that Lyon can do contact tracing.

“Once they are given a negative test result, they are free to move about,” Tackett said.

After students test negative, RLS members will be available to help them move their items from temporary housing into their permanent residence. 

Student Life practiced these procedures with students who moved onto campus in the fall. Spring move-in days have been broken down into smaller groups to make moving in and transporting items more manageable for both students and RLS members.

“It is important for students to follow the guidelines so that we can provide a safe community for all students,” Mitchell said. “Our goal is to help students understand the rules, and we will achieve this by using a three-tier development model.”

To review the development model and consequences, visit Community Standards on Page 9 of the COVID-19 Protocols and Practices.

RLS will support students when they arrive on campus and provide information about their spring residential experience.

“We look forward to having you back on campus and providing engaging opportunities in the community,” Mitchell said.

at Friday, November 20, 2020