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Jonesboro incident headlines the ASU Board of Trustees Meeting

The incident that occurred yesterday on the campus of Arkansas State University led conversation during the December meeting of the ASU Board of Trustees.  Meeting at the Dryer Hall on the campus of Arkansas State Univeristy-Mountain Home, ASU System President Dr. Charles Welch told trustees that he was extremely pleased with the quick action of the first responders that came on the Jonesboro campus after reports of a man with a weapon started to surface.

“I am very pleased with their quick action. Everything seemed to work exactly how it should have worked and we are thankful that no one was hurt.”

Jonesboro Police say 47 year old Brad Kenneth Bartelt drove on to the campus in a green Chevy truck, doused himself in gasoline, and pointed a gun at his chin.  The truck reportedly had gas and a propane tank.  The first call of the incident happened around 1:32 Thursday afternoon.  Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliot says University police officers were immediately on the scene after the truck went to the east side of the student union and the incident started. Elliot says his officers arrived within two minutes.  He says everything ended peacefully after crisis negotiators talked to the man for over an hour. 

Once the incident started, Arkansas State University officials moved students to the west side of the Carl R. Reng Student Union and secured them.  The campus then went into lockdown, where it stayed for at least two hours.  Elliot says by way of motive and why, those questions have not been determined yet.      

Bartelt reportedly threatened to harm himself and did not threaten to harm students or police officers.  No one was injured and shots were not fired in the incident.  University Police Chief Randy Martin praised the fast response and the cooperation of numerous outside agencies that assisted in the response, including the FBI, the Arkansas State Police Bomb Squad, and the Craighead County Sheriff’s Department.

Dr. Welch says he hopes what happened yesterday starts a dialogue about mental illness. 

“When we heard the reports of what was going on, we were in the midst of legislative audits in Little Rock.  Chancellor Dr. Tim Hudson was keeping me updated with what was going on.  After the suspect was arrested, I was extremely mad at him.  After learning from his social media posts that he was suicidal, I immediately felt sorry for him.  I hope that incidents like this start a dialogue on mental illness and what people can do to help those who have illness.”

Members of the Board of Trustees echoed the sentiments and also praised the first responders, as well as the University’s police officers, as well as how the University notified faculty, staff, and students about what happened.  No one was injured in yesterday’s incident.

OTHER ACTION

The Board heard from the system’s chancellors.  Dr. Robin Myers, Chancellor of Arkansas State University-Mountain Home, said the university is receiving over $2 million in grants for technology programs on campus.

Dr. Lynita Cooksey, Arkansas State Univeristy’s Provost and Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs, stated Arkansas State University is getting ready to welcome 115 new medical students in the fall.  The New York Institute of Technology’s College of Osteopathic Medicine received final approval to recruit students, open a second location on the campus of Arkansas State University in August 2016 and become the first osteopathic medical school in the state. Those students will be housed at the historic Wilson Hall.  Additionally, it was announced that A-State’s campus in Queretaro, Mexico continues to take shape and will start taking students in 2017.

Dr. Eugene McKay, Chancellor of ASU-Beebe made a quick report saying the school’s John Deere program is tops in the nation by way of the number of students enrolled.  Dr. McKay is retiring in January after 50 years at the university.  The Board of Trustees also surprised McKay by naming the student center on campus in his honor. 

Dr. Debra West, Chancellor of ASU-Mid-South says the university has received over $3 million in grants for technology, STEM, and programs geared toward African-Americans.

Dr. Sandra Massey, Chancellor of ASU-Newport, reported on the annual Student Scholarship and Donor Recognition Luncheon in Newport that provided an opportunity for scholarship recipients and donors to meet and celebrate achievements of students.    ASU-Newport also is working with a group of industry partners to redesign the manufacturing program, as well as also being selected as one of many partners of the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services to receive an American Apprenticeship Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

In other action, the Board of Trustees approved the following:

The naming of the R.M. “Bob” Wood Sales Leadership Center at the Delta Center for Economic Development on the Jonesboro campus.

ASU-Beebe will work with A-State in Jonesboro as part of a $2 million grant to offer a Technical Certificate in Agriculture.

Arkansas State University-Mid-South will offer a Certificate of Proficiency in Marine Technology.  This will be part of a federal grant that will train a workforce of people who can work on the Mississippi River on tugboats, barges, and other work.  This is part of the Mississippi River Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics Consortium that ASU-Mid-South is part.  Also, they approved the naming of the FedEx Aviation Technology Center in West Memphis.

Arkansas State University-Jonesboro, Mountain Home, and the Mid-South campuses all have approved revisions to fee rates.  In Jonesboro, ASU will eliminate the application fee for concurrent enrollment students.  In Mountain Home, ASU will establish a background check fee of $25, a State Licensure/Testing fee of $20, and the National Licensure/Testing fee of $70.  In Mid-South, equipment fees for the Certificate of Proficiency in Marine Technology were approved.

Also 1% merit bonuses for non-classified staff and faculty and a 1% cost of living adjustment for classified employees were approved in Jonesboro.  A 2% cost of living adjustment for non-classified staff and faculty, and a 1% cost of living adjustment for classified staff approved for Mountain Home.  The System Office also received a 1% cost of living adjustment for all staff.

ASU-Jonesboro will be allow tuition discounts for large-scale distance education programs. 

ASU-Mountain Home was approved an easement for future use. 

ASU System Handbook will include a non-discrimination in university practices statement.

ASU System approves an Intellectual Property Not Subject to Patent Policy.

ASU System also approved a policy of the use of drones on the campus. 

After personnel matters were approved, the board adjourned the December meeting.