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Arkansas State University Board of Trustees Hears Update on System Expansion Projects


BEEBE, Ark. — A new Arkansas State University System office in Little Rock and recently launched website are the latest steps toward increasing visibility and preparing for system expansion.

Dr. Charles L. Welch, president of the system, told members of the ASU Board of Trustees at its meeting today that the system is better positioned to serve its institutions and constituencies while advocating support for higher education.

“We are a statewide system of higher education, and our expanded presence in the state capital is important,” Welch said. “We serve an important role not only for our institutions and their students, but also for the state’s overall need for more college graduates, more research and a well-trained workforce.”

The ASU System has moved to the newly renovated sixth floor of the 501 Building, which is directly across from the front steps of the State Capitol. The 10,706-square-foot space provides 14 offices, a mid-sized conference room and a 2,000-square-foot conference room. General Improvement Funds secured by Gov. Mike Beebe and House Speaker Davy Carter funded most of the construction cost.

The system relaunched its website, ASUSystem.edu, to provide information about the system and its campuses. The Arkansas State Marketing and Creative Services interactive team designed and developed the site.

The board approved a resolution designating the ASU System president’s residence in west Little Rock as The Herbert H. McAdams II House. Proceeds from the sale of property in Mountain Home donated by the late university supporter were used to acquire the residence, which is also used for various system and campus events in central Arkansas.

Welch told trustees that he would be providing a draft memorandum of understanding from Mid-South Community College in West Memphis for feedback. The MSCC Board of Trustees has authorized its president, Dr. Glen Fenter, to negotiate with Welch for the school to join the ASU System and become ASU-Mid-South.

“Once Dr. Fenter and I are comfortable with the agreement, it will be submitted to both boards for consideration of authorization,” Welch said. “We have had very positive discussions and good feedback from our constituencies. It’s been a smooth process, and I think the merger would be mutually beneficial to ASU and to Mid-South.

Dr. Tim Hudson, chancellor of Arkansas State, said the campus has established an enrollment task force to address future challenges and opportunities.

“We want to do it while we’re in a strong position,” Hudson said. “We want to prepare for and determine the right size of the campus to achieve our mission. There are many facets of enrollment, and it involves every aspect of campus. We want to be purposeful and intentional with what we do.”

Hudson encouraged ticket purchases for Arkansas State’s participation in the GoDaddy Bowl on Jan. 4 in Mobile. He said those who can’t attend may still purchase tickets through the university and donate them to a pool that will be distributed to students and military service members in the Mobile region.

Dr. Eugene McKay, chancellor of ASU-Beebe, noted that the ASU-Heber Springs campus celebrated its 15th anniversary this fall and continues to grow in its service to the region and its employers. He also noted that the John Deere training program at Beebe has grown to nearly 100 students and that Heber Springs student Jacob Miller is excelling in a national welding competition.

The Higher Learning Commission recently visited the ASU-Mountain Home campus and gave positive reviews to the new technical training center, ASUMH Chancellor Robin Myers reported. The board approved ASUMH’s request for a $1.5 million, 4,000-square-foot Nursing and Allied Health expansion capital project. Myers also noted that U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia is scheduled to speak at the campus on April 16.

Dr. Sandra Massey, chancellor of ASU-Newport, said the HLC will visit the campus this spring for a five-year accreditation review. ASUN is enhancing its technological abilities to improve communication and online class delivery among its campuses, she said, and Maverick Transportation of North Little Rock has agreed to a new partnership with the school’s commercial truck driving program that will regularly provide students.

Welch said several members of the ASU System staff had elected to participate in a voluntary early retirement program effective Dec. 31 and expressed appreciation for their service. Among those retiring are Robert Evans, vice president for governmental relations; Lucinda McDaniel, general counsel; and Steve Owens, president of the ASU Foundation.

The board elected Charles Luter of Paragould to succeed Dan Pierce of Jonesboro as chairman effective Jan. 1. Vice chairman will be Howard Slinkard of Rogers, and the secretary will be Ron Rhodes of Cherokee Village.

In other business, the Board approved:

• Revisions to the system’s Patents Policy that was originally adopted in 2012 regarding establishment of the date on which assignments are made.
• A-State to borrow $1.5 million from the Sustainable Building Design Program for completion of energy efficient upgrades of the cooling tower system at the Convocation Center and the energy control system in the Arkansas Biosciences Institute Building.
• A-State to offer the existing Physical Therapist Assistant degree program to ASU-Mountain Home via a combination of on-site and distance technology deliveries to serve the Mountain Home region.
• A-State to offer a new Master of Science in Psychological Science degree.
• ASU-Newport to grant a construction easement on the campus.
• ASU-Newport to offer an optional voluntary retirement program to 21 employees who are at least 55 years old with 15 years of full-time employment as of June 30, 2015. The move is expected to result in cost savings to the campuses.
• ASU-Newport’s 2014-2019 Strategic Plan that reorganized its organizational structure, clarified its mission and values and established strategic priorities.
• Personnel appointments, including Brad Phelps of Little Rock as associate general counsel for the ASU System.

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