By John R. Schirmer
“It was quite a production.”
That’s how University of Arkansas Cossatot Chancellor Dr. Steve Cole described the UA Board of Trustees meeting held May 25-26 on the Nashville campus.
Planning for the event began six months ago, Cole said. “We wanted it to be nice. We’ve heard nothing but praise from the trustees. Everything turned out perfectly. Our staff did a great job.”
Vice Chancellor Mike Kinkade said the meeting was “good for our town, good for the college, good exposure for the UA system. Everybody stepped up.”
The trustees in attendance included former United States Sen. David Pryor and former Arkla executive Shuffield Nelson. Skip Rutherford, former aide to President Bill Clinton and now dean of the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, presented a proposal to the board for an online master’s degree program.
Board members arrived for committee meetings last Wednesday. They traveled to Cossatot’s De Queen campus for a crawfish boil that night, then returned to Nashville and held their May meeting Thursday morning.
During the session, Cole presented his report on UA Cossatot, focusing on the college’s “efficiency with the third smallest budget in Arkansas. The efficiency is phenomenal.”
Cole said Cossatot awarded 22 credential per 100 full-time equivalent students in 2007. “Now, it’s 80 credentials per 100 students, a four-fold increase in less than 10 years.” The school has 855 FTEs.
Cossatot’s graduation rate is 37 percent, according to Cole, “a record high. It’s been trending up for the last 10 years.”
The college partners with local industry to train workers, including Husqvarna, Tyson Foods, Domtar, Weyerhaeuser and Pilgrim, among others, Cole said. “We work to satisfy the needs they have.”
Cossatot has “good people. We train them up and turn them loose.”
A record number of local high school graduates for 2016 will attend Cossatot this fall, Cole said. “Close to half of Nashville’s graduates will be here.”
In other business at the meeting, the board added Ashdown residents Jimmy Tunny and Tyler Davis to its membership.
Tuition and fees were increased systemwide for 2016-17.
The board accepted Rich Mountain Community College and Pulaski Tech into the UA system. Officials from both schools were on hand for the vote.
The board voted to opt out of Act 226 of 2013 which allows staff members with concealed-carry permits to take concealed handguns onto college campuses. The act includes a provision for colleges to opt out if they don’t want concealed weapons on campus. Board member Kelly Eichler of Little Rock said that she doesn’t own guns but called the matter “a Second Amendment issue, not just a privilege.
The board voted 7-2 to opt out.