May 12, 2006
Arkansas State University - Jonesboro
This First Friday report is about recent developments on the ASU-Jonesboro campus at the close of the Spring Semester 2006.
For a decade, student, faculty, and staff leaders have advocated such a facility. Various attempts have been made to secure the funds necessary to build and subsequently operate a child development facility, but for many reasons the financial packages were not feasible previously.
Jo Ann Nalley, one of the state’s authorities in early childhood development and director of ASU Childhood Services, and Robyn Doyle, program coordinator for the ASU Arkansas Better Chance (ABC) program, are the champions for this project. The ABC grant from the Arkansas State Department of Education currently provides support for 80 ABC-qualified children (currently housed at a local church) to participate in the center’s programs. These children, along with 50 to 60 children of ASU students, faculty, and staff, will make up the clientele to be addressed by the center's professional staff.
Jo Ann Nalley, the Office of the Dean of Education, and the Office of Research and Academic Affairs have arranged to direct funds toward construction costs of the facility. That support will be added to monies obtained through various activities conducted by the Childhood Services staff. The exact cost of the project will be determined in negotiations with contractors, and operating costs will be defined through a budgeting process coordinated by Jo Ann Nalley.
The facility and its programs will be an important amenity for the campus. It is anticipated that the child development center will be a significant attraction for enrollment of student-parents with children of the ages appropriate for the center. The facility will provide an on-campus field experience and observation opportunity for students in the early childhood curriculum, as well as other academic programs of study that focus upon the development of young children. Employees of the university will find it convenient to have their young children at a location near campus offices, classrooms, and laboratories. The secure and well-monitored location will reduce the distance of separation of a child from a parent, and will provide immediate access between child and parent within the campus environment, should that contact be necessary.
The campus community owes a debt of gratitude to Jo Ann Nalley and the Childhood Services staff who will facilitate this project and our thanks also goes to the academic leaders who have given budgetary support to encourage this development. To the many people who have tried for years to see this project realized, thank you for your encouragement, patience, and confidence that a solution would finally arrive.
Sale of land
At Jonesboro, the budget approved by the Board allows for modest growth beyond the current fiscal year. Increases in expenditures will be made to support a three percent salary increase for employees in the classified system, and for non-classified staff and faculty. There also will be additional money provided in the budget to address faculty promotions and other extraordinary salary adjustments.
In support budgets, student scholarship budgets will be increased, utility budgets will be increased to meet higher utility costs, and diversity program support will be increased. Each of these areas are considered essential to provide for continued development of operational capabilities for the campus. Scholarship and diversity program growth are goals of the strategic plan.
In order to support these additional costs, a tuition increase of five percent was approved by the Board to produce funds that will be added to new funding provided by the state through increased appropriations. Next year, a full time undergraduate resident student at ASU will pay tuition and mandatory fees that will be only the fourth highest among public universities in Arkansas, and well below the national average for public institutions. Compared to public and private universities in Arkansas, the costs to attend ASU are in the lower half of all institutions. We still represent excellent educational value for the investment made by students and their families.
Personnel and curriculum decisions
Employees will soon receive correspondence from ASU that will extend contracts or provide confirmation of appointments during the next fiscal year. These letters will represent a return to a notification process used previously. This process is in response to requests made by faculty and staff that some form of annual notification be given to employees regarding contracts and continuing appointments. When these letters are received, please note the contents and particulars of the document and notify your vice president or vice chancellor if anything seems amiss. We appreciate your requests to provide this material and want to be certain that it is accurate in all respects.
Another good year at ASU
We have produced an enrollment management plan over the last year that has great promise for the future. Already we have seen record numbers of applications for the Fall 2006, we have expended record amounts of financial aid, and new residence halls are nearing capacities. These are great problems to have, and especially as enrollments recorded in this calendar year will form the basis of formula funding recommendations in the General Assembly of the Arkansas Legislature next spring.
We have produced a new promotional campaign, Powering Minds, which embodies the goals and purposes of the institution in a powerful graphic image. The implementation of this promotion has added color and vitality to the campus landscape, and has given rise to a new look on the ASU website.
We have produced a new faculty handbook that has been approved by the Board of Trustees, and that is posted on the homepage.
We have generated more grants and sponsored research activity than at any time in our history. Publications among faculty are at an all-time high, as are professional service engagements throughout the campus, community, and region. The quality of research presentations has been recognized and applauded by colleagues throughout the state and region.
We have seen progress in facility developments for student services and in the residential program, and we are preparing for the successful introduction of the first-year residential experience initiative. This effort should increase retention and graduation outcomes, and provide a broad range of support services for student success in the academic programs.
We have brought some dynamic new employees to the campus, and with regret, we have seen some of our finest retire or move on to other opportunities.
We have hosted conferences, clinics, presentations, events, speakers, performers, exhibitions, tours, and competitions in greater number than in any previous year.
We have proved the worth of the public investment of capital, confidence, and expectation in our university. Thanks to all of you who have made this experience worthwhile to those we are privileged to serve—our students, our neighbors, and citizens of the state. On behalf of a grateful public, thank you Arkansas State University for your good work.
And thank you for reading First Friday. I would be pleased to hear from you about any aspect of Arkansas State University, at firstname.lastname@example.org.