AHECB Meets and Hears Reports on Productivity Index

Special to the Advance
The Arkansas Division of Higher Education Coordinating Board met for the regularly scheduled meeting at the office of the Arkansas Division of Higher Education on Friday, January 31.  
During the finance committee, the board heard two requests for an Issue of Economic Feasibility of Loans- one for the University of Arkansas Little Rock and one for the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts. Henderson State University also requested an Economic Feasibility of the Issuance of a Line of Credit.  All three institutions were available to the committee for questions concerning their agenda items.  Nick Fuller, Deputy Director of the Division of Higher Education, presented the Operating Recommendations for the 2020-21 fiscal year for public institutions along with the Personal Services Recommendations.  All of the aforementioned actions items were passed from the committee to the full board where all were approved.  
During the Executive portion of the meeting, the board heard from Director Maria Markham, a presentation by Dr. Steve Cole, Chancellor of University of Arkansas Cossatot regarding the Textbook Program.  The program submission won the agency’s Closing the Gap awards held at the end of 2018.  Cole explained how the program was implemented as an affordability metric for college students.    
“I think all higher education institutions in Arkansas are sensitive to the financial implications of tuition and fees, said Cole.  “At UA Cossatot, we became aware of the burden felt by students when purchasing textbooks.  “In 2015, the cost of textbooks at our institution was the same or more than the cost of tuition.  We wanted to ease that burden and I challenged our faculty to do just that.”  
Faculty were challenged to research the best Open Educational Resources and implement into their curriculum.
“Our goal wasn’t to diminish educational quality,” said Cole.  “Our goal was to combine the free or low cost available resources with the content expertise of our faculty for the benefit of our students.”
The program was sustainable and in the first four years, it saved UA Cossatot students $1.5 million.  
“In Southwest Arkansas, that is a lot of money,” said Cole.  
The board officers and new members were announced following Cole’s presentation.  New members Bill Clary, Conway; Chad Hooten, Benton; and Andy McNeill of Russellville were appointed by Governor Asa Hutchinson and attended their first quarterly meeting.  The nominating committee recommended to the board who approved the board officers.  Elected as Chair is Dr. Jim Carr, Vice Chair is Al Brodell, and Secretary is Chris Gilliam.
The academic committee and board approved five new program areas for four institutions.  Arkansas Tech University requested and received approval to offer a Bachelor of Science in Applied Statistics with options in Actuarial Science or Data Science.  Black River Technical College received approval to offer Certificates of Proficiency in Riflesmithing, Shotgunsmithing Pistolsmithing, along with Technical Certificate in Gunsmithing, emphasis in Long Guns, and an Associate of Applied Science in Gunsmithing.  Southeast Arkansas College requested approval to begin offering Certificates of Proficiency in Lodging, Restaurant Operations, and Beverages and Bar Operations.  Technical Certificate in Hospitality Management and an Associated of Applied Science in Hospitality Management.  Southeast Arkansas College also received approval for a Certificate of Proficiency in Cyber Security Management, a Technical Certificate of Cyber Security Management, and an Associate of Applied Science in Cyber Security Management.  
Associate Director of Research and Analytics, Sonia Hazelwood presented the Fall 2019 enrollment numbers for Arkansas Higher Education Institutions.  Overall, the total enrollment for the 2019 Fall term in all sectors of Arkansas higher education (public universities, public colleges, as well as independent colleges and universities and nursing schools) was 156,491 students; representing a 1-year decrease of 1.6 percent.
The next board meeting will be held in ADHE boardroom located at 423 Main Street in Little Rock on Friday, April 24.

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