ARKADELPHIA — Arkansas State University and the five two-year institutions in the ASU System will keep tuition and fees steady for students this fall while holding budgeted expenses below pre-pandemic levels.
System President Chuck Welch told the ASU System Board of Trustees at its regular meeting Thursday that “very conservative budgeting and financial management during extraordinary times served the system institutions well during the past year.” This fall will be the third time in four years that ASU System institutions – excluding new member Henderson State University – have not increased tuition rates.
“State revenues exceeded expectations and the federal stimulus funds have enabled us to recover lost pandemic revenues,” Welch said. “We were fortunate that we did not have to rely on reserve funds because we have healthy, financially stable institutions. Now we’re focusing on getting enrollment levels back to pre-pandemic levels as quickly as possible.”
Trustees approved a 2.3 percent tuition and fees increase for Henderson as efforts continue to strengthen its financial condition. “Henderson continues to make progress, but we have acknowledged repeatedly that it will take time to restore the campus to full financial stability,” Welch said.
Trustees voted to approve a $353 million total budget for the ASU System. The system budget excluding Henderson is $284.4 million, which is 0.3 percent higher than FY2021 but 3.2 percent lower than FY2020.
Last year, the ASU System put capital projects on hold, scaled back deferred maintenance, limited professional development and travel, and implemented hiring freezes. Welch said those expenditures would be phased back in with stringent hiring practices in place.
For FY2022, Arkansas State in Jonesboro budgeted $204.2 million, an increase of $700,000 or 0.3 percent compared with FY2021 and a decrease of $5.3 million or 2.5 percent compared with FY2020. For FY2022, Henderson budgeted $68.5 million, an increase of $948,000 or 1.4 percent compared with FY2021 and a decrease of about $200,000 or 0.3 percent compared with FY2020.
The board approved a resolution to rescind effective immediately the requirement for face coverings to be worn on ASU System campuses. Trustees adopted the policy on Aug. 12, 2020, as a measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Act 1002 of 2021 requires all state and local requirements for mask coverings to end on June 28.
Trustees adopted a new Telecommuting Policy that authorizes campuses to develop policies and procedures for employees in certain positions. Chancellors are required to ensure that any telecommuting arrangement is mutually beneficial for the institution and employee, complies with all applicable laws and system policies, and is evaluated at least annually. The policy is for limited and strategic use.
A task force plan to revise academic admission standards for undergraduates at Arkansas State was approved. A-State will adopt test-optional admissions policies that offer differing opportunities for potential students to demonstrate merit for consideration. A key consideration was the impact of ACT test results as potential barrier to both traditional and nontraditional students residing in northeast Arkansas. A-State institutional data show a high school grade-point average to be the best predictor of graduation attainment.
A-State admissions standards minimums for fall 2022 will be a high school GPA of 3.0 or ACT score of 19 or a high school rank in the top 20 percent of the graduating class. Unconditional admission previously required a GPA 2.75 and ACT score of 21, and conditional admission required a GPA of 2.35 and ACT score of 19.
In other business, the board approved:
Henderson accepting ownership of the Charles and Anita Cabe Student-Athlete Success Center as a gift from the Henderson State University Foundation. The 4,230-square-foot facility was made possible by a $1.25 million gift by the C. Louis and Mary C. Cabe Foundation.
Naming the Military Science Building at A-State the “Lieutenant Colonel Frederick C. Turner, Jr. Military Science Building.” Turner was one of the first African-American graduates of Arkansas State, was the first African-American professor at A-State, and later served as Commander of U.S. Army Forces at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Belgium. (See related story in this issue of The Daily Press).
Naming a public exhibition space in the Bradbury Art Museum at A-State the “Pardew Gallery” in recognition of service to and support of the university by James and Mary Pardew. Welch also announced during the meeting he had just received word of Pardew’s death. (See related story in this issue of The Daily Press).
Naming the Counselor Education Department Library at Henderson the “Dr. Michael Shane Kelly Memorial Counseling Library” in recognition of Kelly, who began teaching at Henderson in 1992 and spent 29 years in the educational development of counselors.
Displaying the name “MNB Marquee” on the ASU Three Rivers Ritz Theatre marquee in recognition of contributions by Malvern National Bank toward restoration of the facility.
A-State to offer a Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics and a transitional Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics.
Henderson to offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics.
ASU-Beebe to offer a Certificate of Proficiency in Patient Care Technician.
ASU Three Rivers to offer a Certificate of Proficiency in Aluminum Welding and a Certificate of Proficiency in Advanced Manufacturing.
Appointment of Jeff Sampson and Mark Young to the ASU-Newport Board of Visitors.