ASU branch to add boat manufacturing

MOUNTAIN HOME — The Arkansas State University System Board of Trustees has unanimously approved new programs at Arkansas State University-Mountain Home, capital projects at both ASU-Mountain Home and at Henderson State University, and a new strategic plan for ASU-Mid South at a meeting Friday.

Work is scheduled to begin Oct. 1 and complete Aug. 1, 2023 on expanding ASU-Mountain Home’s Tech Center to accommodate a new boat manufacturing program, as well as adding injection molding and die-casting technologies. extrusion in the mechatronics program. , according to the ASU system. The $1.385 million project will be funded by a $685,000 grant from the Office of Skills Development and a $700,000 Regional Workforce Grant from the Arkansas Division of Higher Education.

Beginning in the Spring 2023 semester, ASU-Mountain Home will offer an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science, Technical Certificate, and Boat Building Proficiency Certificate upon approval by the Trustees at their ASU-Mountain Home Campus Meeting Friday. Beginning this fall, the university will also offer a commercial truck driving competency certificate.

The Twin Lakes area, where ASU-Mountain Home is located, is home to four boat-building companies that employ approximately 2,000 workers, and the university has worked with these companies to design these new programs so that individuals are prepared for the labor market, according to the ASU System.

A $200,000 grant from the Delta Regional Authority was awarded to support curriculum and faculty development for two years, while an Office of Skills Development grant of $1,234,775 was awarded to support the expansion of the technical center, its equipment purchases, and an additional year of faculty salary for the program, so that no additional funding is required from the university or the system.

“It’s a great boat-building country,” said Chuck Welch, president of the ASU system. Every year, “5 million dollars worth of boat products are made here, [which means] lots of jobs.”

The seven-credit-hour Commercial Truck Driver course will meet all requirements for certification as a commercial truck driver and will be accepted as an option in the General Business Technical Certificate, according to the ASU system. ASU-Mountain Home received a regional labor grant of $500,000 to establish the training program and purchase a tractor-trailer and truck simulator, so no additional funding is required.

In July, ASU-Newport received a $1 million regional labor grant to support its transportation programs, specifically its “best in the state” commercial driver training program. said Chancellor Johnny Moore. “We [graduate] approximately 480 students of our commercial driver training program” each year.

“Truck driving is a major need in this state and this country,” Welch said.

ASU-Mountain Home also added athletics — baseball, softball, cross country and esports — this fall, which has increased school spirit and opportunities for students on campus, Chancellor Robin Myers said. “We have 56 student-athletes this fall, and we’re very excited about — and support — this new venture on campus” for the Trailblazers.


Administrators unanimously approved renovations to the Henderson State Caddo Center, making it a “one-stop-shop” for many student needs, including offices for admissions, financial aid, housing, counseling and tutoring, according to the ASU system.

The project received a $1.2 million grant for its initial phase in fiscal year 2022, which was approved by trustees in September 2021. The second phase will be funded by a $1.4 million grant. dollars from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Commission.

The second phase also includes the adaptation of the envelope of the Caddo building, allowing the preservation of the historic Caddo center, according to the ASU system. The first phase started in September 2021 and the second phase is expected to end on June 30, 2023.

Trustees also unanimously approved a revised mission statement for Henderson State. The university will focus on educational opportunities, college completion, measurable outcomes, community learning, and partnership-driven innovation; the full statement is available online at


Arkansas State’s online degree programs had been exempt from employee tuition discounts, but that exemption is now being removed after unanimous approval by administrators on Friday. The change is effective with this fall semester, although discounts for ASO degree programs will remain limited to employees only.

Additionally, the process for emeritus status, which has been handled by the system president’s office, will be handled by the chancellor of each individual campus, effective immediately, according to the system. Since the adoption of the emeritus policy in 1997, the system has grown to seven schools.

“All faculty and staff members, having a university rank and who have rendered 10 years or more of full-time service in an institution of the Arkansas State University system at the time of their retirement, and who are in good standing, are declared to have, and will have, emeritus status, with special gratitude and honor bestowed by the Board of Directors and the President of the System, with such privileges as the administration may grant in its discretion ”, according to the ASU system.


Trustees unanimously approved the contract of new Akansas State Chancellor Todd Shields, effective Aug. 15, for an annual salary of $450,000. Shields, who had been dean of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville since 2014, was officially hired in July to replace Kelly Damphousse, who resigned.

Trustees also voted on Friday to allow Arkansas State University to sell 30 acres of undeveloped land the school owns in Jonesboro because it is “not essential to the operations of the institution and will not be required in the future to carry out the mission of the educational institution.”, according to the ASU system. The acreage, between Browns Lane and Race Street, will be surveyed by an assessor and then advertised for sale to the public.

There is “possible interest from the town of Jonesboro to purchase the land and use it for a sports facility,” Welch said. It is likely that the money the university will receive from the sale will be “set aside for future strategic projects”.

The resolution passed unanimously, although trustee Jerry Morgan recused himself due to his role as chairman of the Jonesboro Advertising and Promotions Commission.

Trustees also unanimously approved the amendment to the agreement between Arkansas State in Jonesboro and the school’s Mexico campus, Arkansas State-Querétaro. Since the original 2017 agreement between the campuses, the Querétaro branch has graduated four classes of students, with enrollment approaching 1,000 students this fall.

The amended agreement calls for better communication between the two campuses and allows the Jonesboro campus to annually approve the Querétaro campus budget, according to the ASU system. Beginning with the current academic year, the total tuition fees generated by the Querétaro campus will be calculated based on all student credit hours; in the original agreement, the relevant calculation was based on 95% of student credit hours.

Beginning Friday, Room 224 of the Neil Griffin College of Business Commercial Building on the Jonesboro campus in Arkansas State is renamed FORVIS AIS (Accounting Information Services) Lab, after administrators approved at the unanimity the resolution due to the company’s contributions to the lab – and the school in general – as well as its continued employment of many Arkansas State graduates.


Also effective Friday, the dining hall at Henderson State will be named after Malachi Smith, after unanimous approval by administrators.

Smith became the college’s chef in 1903, and after a fire in 1914 destroyed much of the Henderson-Brown campus, Smith and his kitchen staff contributed $25 to rebuild the college, “an immense sum of ‘money at the time’, according to the ASU system. He remained “a respected fixture” on campus until his retirement in 1947.

Smith is “a legendary figure on campus for the spirit he showed after that fire,” and his family has remained involved with the university, including through scholarships, Welch said. “I believe this is the first building to bear the name of a [Black] no one on this campus.”

It’s “a wonderful story,” Harrisburg administrator Paul Rowton said.


Trustees also approved Arkansas State University-Mid-South’s 2022-25 Strategic Plan, the culmination of an 18-month process. The principles of the strategic plan include: relevant, accessible and high quality education; success through responsiveness; community and workforce development; and fostering a culture of growth and engagement.

Since 2015, ASU-Mid-South has improved its graduation from 9% to 33%, which is “on par with most community colleges in the state of Arkansas, [but] we still have a long way to go to get to where we want to be,” Chancellor Debra West said. The school has improved student outcomes in a number of ways, including ending late enrollment — “a lot of these students aren’t prepared” for college — and boosting “global services, [like] advise.”