JONESBORO, Ark. — Arkansas State University System President Chuck Welch today announced a 4 percent increase in systemwide enrollment with a record 24,104 students this fall.
Welch told members of the ASU Board of Trustees at its meeting that system institutions also showed a 2 percent gain in full-time equivalent students. He praised the staff, faculty and students at each campus for their contributions in recruitment and retention.
“It’s because of them that we continue to break records. We believe this is the highest enrollment in the history of the system,” Welch said. “ASU-Beebe has stopped their recent enrollment slide with 4.7 percent increase. They have become more strategic in their focus and excited about what the future holds.
“The Jonesboro campus has record enrollment with a 5 percent increase. We have all-time high FTE students and more doctoral degrees recipients. I would also point out that the largest online education provider in the state is Arkansas State University.”
ASU-Newport also has record enrollment, Welch said. ASU Mid-South is up in full-time equivalent students but down in head count only because of change in policy regarding late registration acceptance.
“Mountain Home has one of more challenging situations due to location and a very small service area,” Welch added. “Growth in technical programs has been nothing short of amazing. ASU-Mountain Home has the highest success rate of any two-year institution in the state – both retention and graduation rates.”
Arkansas State in Jonesboro has record enrollment of 14,074, a 5 percent increase over 13,410 in 2015. ASU-Newport rose 5.7 percent from 2,566 to 2,711, and ASU-Beebe gained 4.7 percent from 3,845 to 4,026. ASU Mid-South declined 1.4 percent from 1,896 to 1,870, while ASU-Mountain Home fell 2.5 percent from 1,384 to 1,350.
Welch praised the system’s internal audit team for its recent work on the A-State Study Abroad program and noted it was “very comprehensive and thorough.” Trustee Tim Langford of Little Rock thanked and commended Welch for his handling of the audit findings and the resignation of Chancellor Tim Hudson.
“It’s been a disruption, but would have been worse if not for your leadership and decisiveness,” Langford said. “I especially like the way you communicated with all of our stakeholders. It’s been reassuring to everyone. You hit a home run in naming Dr. [Doug] Whitlock as interim chancellor.”
Welch noted that because of the work of the ASU System benefits team, a health insurance plan for 2017 has been recommended to campuses that has no increase in premiums and no changes in deductibles. “It has to go through shared governance, but I can’t imagine that no increase will be too controversial,” he added.
Systemwide studies regarding staffing and campus programs will be conducted in the coming months, Welch said, and processes for transfer students and shared governance will be reviewed and enhanced.
“We’ve got to be proactive and strategic in the way we address the issues of our campuses and higher ed in general,” Welch said.
Whitlock, who became interim chancellor at A-State on Sept. 12, said he is working to create culture of shared governance and improved internal communication on campus.
Chancellor Robin Myers of ASUMH announced the Mountain Home Education Foundation has established the “Mountain Home Promise” scholarship program. It will pay two years of tuition to ASUMH for all graduates of Mountain Home High School.
In other business, the Board:
• Voted to refinance two 30-year revenue bond issues of $25.5 million and $14.9 million for the A-State campus. The move is expected to save $283,000 annually with an interest rate of no more than 4.25 percent.
• Voted to name an area of the A-State Humanities and Social Sciences Building the John V. Phelps and Tom D. Womack Pre-Law Center and to rename the Black Box Experimental Teaching Theatre in the A-State Fowler Center as The Simpson Theatre in honor of longtime theater faculty members Bob and Molly Simpson.
• Approved ASU-Beebe to offer an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Coding, a Technical Certificate in Computer Coding, and a Certificate of Proficiency in Computer Coding.
• Approved ASU-Newport to offer certificates of proficiency in information communication technology and truck service and maintenance.
Following an executive session, the Board approved several academic and non-academic appointments.