Welch: Higher education funding one of the key focuses of General Assembly

Dec 8, 2016

Credit Brandon Tabor, KASU News

The Arkansas State University System President Dr. Charles Welch stated that the upcoming legislative session could be a “hectic” one, but he is optimistic that higher education will benefit from the session.  Welch told the ASU Board of Trustees in Beebe that institutions across the state could share in about 10 million dollars in new funding.  Governor Asa Hutchinson has introduced a funding model that will be expanded in more detail during the 2017 General Assembly. 

Welch says the new funding model is expected to focus on “outcomes” more than enrollment.  He says the Arkansas Department of Higher Education will hand out funding to those universities who are graduating students, instead of looking at enrollment numbers after the 11th day of a class semester.  He says he is in support of this model and is interested in seeing how the legislature will address this new model.

Welch also commented that the legislature will be looking at concealed carry of handguns on college campuses.  Welch stated that he wanted that to once again be a focus of local Boards of Trustees, instead of the law being handed down by the state. 

Welch also stated that several national issues could impact the Arkansas State University System.  He mentioned those issues include bathroom accessibility and the possible dismantling of the Affordable Care Act.  He says the Arkansas State University System will be watching those potential issues could affect the system.

In other resolutions:

The Arkansas State University System has approved revising the Investment Collateralization Policy, which will include an irrevocable letter of credit from the Federal Home Loan Bank.

The Arkansas State University System has approved an easement to City Water and Light Plant in Jonesboro to install sanitary sewer line infrastructure below ground near the corner of Longhom and Hereford Drives at Arkansas State University-Jonesboro.  This will be done to connect with a nearby sewer line.

The Board of Trustees approved a resolution changing the name of the combined Colleges of Humanities and Social Sciences, Media and Communication, and Fine Arts to the new “College of Liberal Arts and Communication”. 

The Board of Trustees approved a master’s degree in Athletic Training in Jonesboro.  By 2022, the master’s degree in Athletic Training will be the level of study required to meet the latest standards as set by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education. 

The Board of Trustees approved a Doctor of Nursing Practice in Jonesboro.  The Council of Accreditation on Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs has mandated that all nurse anesthesia educational programs by at the doctoral level by 2022.   

In Mountain Home, the Board approved an Associate of Applied Science degree in Programming/Mobile Development, a Technical Certificate in Programming/Mobile Development, and a Certificate of Proficiency in Programming/Mobile Development.  The degree was developed in response to Governor Asa Hutchinson’s goal to educate and employ more computer programmers.  The Mountain Home campus has received over $358,000 to establish the program and will also be offered to high school students. 

The Board approved naming the new graduate residential complex in Jonesboro as The Circle, and the individual halls will be known as Gaines Hall, Richmond Hall, Smith Hall, and Strickland Hall. 

The Board approved naming the new undergraduate residence complex in Jonesboro as Pack Place. 

The Board conferred an honorary doctorate to the late Robert M. “Bob” Wood.