FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEContact:
Arkansas Department of Higher Education
MAGNOLIA, Ark. – The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved guidelines to implement the Workforce Initiative Act of 2015. The Initiative seeks to create a statewide, comprehensive structure enabling students in Arkansas universities, community colleges and secondary centers to participate in career and technical education programs that meet critical needs and employment skills gaps. The grant process will be divided into three phases. The first phase would seek requests for proposals to receive planning grants of up to $100,000. The second phase would provide implementation grants in an amount necessary to provide the resources to implement approved projects from phase one – up to $1 million over two years. The third phase would provide continuation grants, up to $1 million over two years, for alliances that meet or exceed Phase 1 outcome metrics and are selected by the state workforce development partners for continued support. The Department of Higher Education will disburse all funds for the Workforce Initiative Act.
In order to create measurable educational attainment goals based on state needs and priorities, Dr. Powell said it is necessary for the AHECB to consider updating the higher education master plan. Powell said he would like to see work on the plan begin as soon as possible with a goal of completing it by fall. Updating the master plan will allow Arkansas to coordinate and align information related to post-secondary needs in the state with plans and activities at each of our 44 public and private two-year and four-year institutions.
In a special meeting Thursday afternoon, reports from ADHE staff indicated that the one-year retention rate for students who first enrolled in Fall 2014 was 64.8%, up from 63.9% the year prior. The six-year graduation rate for public universities is also up at 40%, while the three-year graduation rate at community colleges increased slightly compared to the prior year. All institution types have seen a growth in the number of credentials awarded over the five-year period beginning in 2010, increasing from 34,052 to 40,745.
In other business Friday, the board approved the following new academic programs:
- Master of Science in Psychological Science, Arkansas State University - Jonesboro
- Bachelor of Arts in Cultural and Geospatial Studies, Arkansas Tech University
- Technical Certificate in Auto Collision Structural Repair Technology, Black River Technical College
- Bachelor of Social Work, University of Arkansas – Fort Smith
- Technical Certificate in Aerospace Fabrication and Repair, National Park Community College
- Master of Education in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education, Southern Arkansas University
The board approved 57 new degree certifications from 21 colleges and universities through its Institutional Certification Advisory Committee, which evaluates and monitors degree programs offered to Arkansans by out-of-state institutions. A number of other programs with requested changes or deletions were also approved. A complete list is available at www.adhe.edu.
In finance committee business, the board approved the distribution of up to $750,000 from the Higher Education Research and Development Fund to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville for ARE-ON operating expenses.
The Arkansas Department of Higher Education is responsible for carrying out the policy directives of the AHECB, approving and reviewing college and university academic programs and developing funding recommendations for the state’s 11 public universities and 22 public two-year colleges as well as several other post-secondary entities.
In addition, the agency is responsible for distributing approximately $170 million annually from state revenues and lottery funds intended to ease the financial burden of students seeking an education beyond high school. For more information, visit www.adhe.edu.