skip to Main Content

State Officials Announce Upcoming Change to Henderson State University’s Mission | Colleges and universities

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and Secretary of Education Johnny Key on Thursday expressed their confidence and support for the academic reorganization, partnerships, and future of Henderson State University that will lead to a better student success in Arkansas.

“Henderson’s management has worked hard to right the ship,” Hutchinson said at a press conference at the State Capitol. “Difficult decisions were made which were not easy and painful, but necessary for Henderson’s survival. We all want to see Henderson succeed.

The governor said he was grateful to the Arkansas State University system and President Chuck Welch for “stepping up” its support for Henderson, who joined the system in 2021, and that he wanted to “introduce Henderson and his purpose”.

“Henderson’s singular focus is student success, making college more affordable and developing pathways from kindergarten to college,” Hutchinson said. “I’m proud of the transition and the pivot. Survival was a real issue in the past, and Arkansas would be less so if it weren’t for Henderson.

Key said Henderson’s future and his focus on reinventing education for the future were important to him personally because of his family’s legacy with the university. Henderson’s modernization of an education system that works for students from K-12 through post-secondary education is “essential.”

“Workforce development in the 21st century demands that students not only demonstrate what they know, but what they can do,” Key added. “We want to integrate K-12 into higher education for better learning opportunities.”

Dr. Shane Speights, a Henderson State alumnus and dean of the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University at Jonesboro, explained that his bachelor’s degree was in business and that non-traditional paths to the Medical school outside of biology degrees were more common.

“We want to be part of an educational ecosystem for future healthcare professionals that provides a clear path from K-12 to medical school,” Speights said. “I have a vested interest and personal desire to see this evolution at Henderson. At NYIT, we leverage technology in the same class delivery efforts that Henderson will implement.

Henderson State University Chancellor Chuck Ambrose said the university will “look a little different” from state colleges with its new structure.

“We are committed to opening the door to college, mobilizing a learning community that builds seamless school-to-work pathways, and preparing students to be career-ready in fields at high demand that drive community and economic development,” said Ambrose. “Henderson has made the necessary budget cuts to restore our fiscal integrity, improve our cash position and build a sustainable resource allocation model. But equally important is the reallocation of financial resources to build personalized student pathways and support to ensure retention and graduation for all students.

Ambrose said Henderson is creating a Saline County Interstate 30 Learning Community in Arkadelphia that includes partnerships with K-12 School Districts, ASU Three Rivers in Malvern and the Saline County Career Tech Campus in Benton. .

“Our collective efforts in policy and practice will fundamentally redefine the student,” he said. “We will not only value incoming freshmen and traditional graduate students, but also high school students who get a head start with college courses, adults who have some college but no degree, and continuing education opportunities for all adult learners. We also want to connect with high school students who may not believe college is possible, and adults who have never had the opportunity and want to reconsider college education to improve or change careers.

Ambrose announced May 3 an academic reorganization recommendation designed to improve student success, address community workforce needs, and generate critical financial savings for the institution’s future. The ASU system board approved the plan on May 5 and implementation is underway.

CLICK HERE for more details on the restructuring plan, communication from the Chancellor and questions and answers on the plan.

Ambrose said the reimagining of college curricula is organized into four meta-majors that align with the skills, abilities, and talents that define the needs of the community workforce: health, education, and social sustainability; Applied Occupational Science and Technology; Business innovation and entrepreneurship; and Arts and Humanities.

University degrees are designated either as “future study programs”, which will continue to be offered, or as “teaching degree programs”. Henderson students and freshmen currently enrolled in fall 2022 will be supported to complete teaching degrees. The academic disciplines included in the teaching degrees will continue to be integrated into the general education and interdisciplinary studies curriculum to improve outcomes for all students.

Back To Top