President Wyatt's Report on the Jonesboro Campus

Presented to Faculty Conference

August 20, 2003

Welcome to the beginning of the 2003-04 academic year. This is a report about activities completed or started since the last Spring semester, and what we have to look forward to this year.

Employee Raises

The University Planning Committee has endorsed a plan for raises which combines appropriated funds in Category B with money previously budgeted for the current year, along with other money which will be generated during the year. The combination of these funds should provide:

The Legislature

During the Spring of 2003, the Arkansas General Assembly adjourned from the regular session and convened in a special session of the Legislature called by Governor Huckabee. The primary focus in these sessions was K-12 public education. Public schools will continue to dominate political focus in the state through the coming year, as Arkansas responds to the court order regarding public school funding.

For ASU, the legislative sessions provided both additional appropriations and special project funding. The appropriations will help to restore a portion of the cuts absorbed over the last two years. The University Planning Committee endorsed a spending plan for this appropriation, which is built into the current operating budget.

The Craighead County delegation pooled their General Improvement Funds to provide significant money for the purchase of furniture and equipment in the new Student Union. We are grateful for this generous support for ASU students.


We welcome new faculty, staff and administrators to the Jonesboro campus and hope that your experiences here will be an important part of a meaningful career. We will continue to recruit during 2003-04 for new faculty and staff, personnel to be appointed through the Arkansas Biosciences Institute, deans for the Colleges of Humanities and Social Sciences and Engineering, and personnel associated with the new Student Union.


Current faculty and staff have had notable successes during the last several months. Newspaper articles have been written about significant research activities, grants received by ASU faculty and support offices, and awards given to faculty and staff by state, regional, and national organizations. Many of these accomplishments are archived in Inside ASU, Campus News, and on the website. Please review these reports and congratulate your colleagues for their achievements. We should all be proud of them.

Accreditation Report

The report of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is being reviewed and will be returned for final action by the HLC. When submitted, the report will be available online. This document is the culmination of several years work by hundreds of people who participated in the self-study, the compilation of material for the visiting committees, the interviews conducted by HLC last Spring, and the editing of the report. ASU is grateful for this service by so many to achieve continuing accreditation of the Jonesboro campus and its programs for the next decade.

This HLC report points out critical issues which we will address over the next several years. A return visit by HLC is anticipated in 2006-07. The principal areas of concern and our response to them are:

Much has changed since those earlier plans. ASU now has received a statewide mandate to develop research-oriented capabilities. Having implemented three doctoral degrees, we now have the opportunity to progress to a higher level classification, a doctoral-intensive university. Significantly, the 2003 HLC report recognizes ASU as a doctoral level institution, a change from the recognition by HLC only a decade ago.

What prospect does this hold for ASU, and how must the institution proceed to realize this opportunity? Answers may lie in a new strategic plan for the university which will direct our focus over the near future.

We have retained the services of a facilitator who will begin planning discussions in early fall. The strategic plan process will extend over the coming year, and will include all vice presidential offices, the chancellors of ASU campuses, and many members of ASU faculty and staff. The plan will be presented to the Trustees for adoption.

The HLC report also identifies other areas of concern, which will be addressed over the coming years, including:

Accreditation of Campuses

At the last accreditation cycle, the North Central Association (now HLC) saw an entirely different university. The Jonesboro campus had a branch in Beebe, which subsequently had a branch in Newport. There were no additional ASU sites. In 1996, the ASU Trustees endorsed an effort to expand access and to seek and gain HLC accreditation for each of the campuses of ASU.

In 2002-03, HLC sent teams to evaluate the ASU Technical Center in Marked Tree; the ASU-Beebe campus, with extensions in Heber Springs and at Little Rock Air Force Base, and a technical center at the new ASU-Searcy campus; the ASU-Newport campus; the ASU-Mountain Home campus; and the Jonesboro campus with an extension at ASU-Paragould, baccalaureate and master's degree offerings at Beebe and Mountain Home, and collaborations with Arkansas Northeastern Community College (formerly Mississippi County Community College), Mid-South Community College, and East Arkansas Community College.

Each of the accreditation visits was successful, and each institution was given an endorsement by HLC for full accreditation. This confidence expressed by HLC is testimony to the effectiveness of the faculty and staff who shape the programs of the campuses to fulfill the mission of the university.

Congratulations to all of you who make it so.

Facilities Development

Construction projects across campus have been delayed by periodic rains throughout the summer. The anticipated large parking lot at Kays Fields could not be started due to these delays but will be built in 2004. We anticipate the following in Fall of 2003:

Mold infestation have been confirmed in Delta Hall. In consideration for occupant safety, the hall has been closed until determination can be made about the future of this building. Repairs to Twin Towers were completed during the summer of 2003.

External Issues

Governor Huckabee appointed Lieutenant Colonel Dallas Wood to a full term as Trustee of the University through January 2008. Colonel Wood joins Chair John Paul Hammerschmidt, Vice Chair Mike Medlock, Secretary Florine Tousant Bingham, and member Richard Bell.

A select committee has been appointed by the Arkansas General Assembly to examine equity funding issues among four- and two-year institutions of higher education. Senator Jerry Bookout will be a member of the committee, chaired by Gilbert Baker (Conway). It is hoped that the committee will recognize and address significant differences in per-student funding among state-assisted institutions. At the Jonesboro campus, this amounts to differences of millions of dollars per year. Cumulatively, the disparity in funding over the years is quite significant and, in the time-value of funding not received, has made a difference in the capabilities of our university.

It is possible that the school funding issue will have an effect on the university this fall. ASU campuses will saturate their service areas with concurrent courses offered to the nearby public high schools. The technical centers will provide vocational and technical courses to the schools. More collaborations with the schools may be suggested as an approach to fulfill adequacy requirements, especially in the region of the state served by ASU campuses.

I hope that this information is helpful to better understand our current and future positions. This material is being shared with various ASU constituents. If you have questions, observations, or comments about any of this, please respond to Thank you.