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State Higher Ed Leaders Announce Compact

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The presidents and chancellors of Arkansas’ 11 public universities and two university systems Tuesday issued a 16-point pledge to accountability, collaboration and cooperation aimed at addressing the state’s educational, social and economic needs and opportunities.

Speaking at a news conference held in the State Capitol’s Rotunda, the education leaders unveiled their “Compact With the People of Arkansas.”

Addressed to the state’s citizens and its political and education leaders, the compact presents 16 goals intended to guide their individual and collective performance.

“The Compact With the People of Arkansas is a reaffirmation of the ideals that we have long been committed to,” said Arkansas Tech President Dr. Robert C. Brown.

Printed copies of the compact were distributed Tuesday to state policymakers and to the news media.

“This compact represents our commitment to provide the people of Arkansas with quality higher education while being mindful of the great responsibility that comes with this task,” said David Rankin, president of Southern Arkansas University, Magnolia. “By having all of the state’s four-year public universities join together in this initiative, there is no doubt we will make tremendous strides in accomplishing these goals over the next several years.”

The document’s 16 pledges include:

- transparent and accountable decision making
- prudent fiscal management
- clear measures of institutional performance
- doubling, by 2025, the number of college degrees produced by the Compact’s partners
- dramatically increasing the number of Arkansas residents with at least a bachelor’s degree
- keep tuition and fees as low as possible without sacrificing academic quality
- create a seamless process of transferring academic credits between and among Arkansas’ two-year colleges and its four-year public universities
- work with K-12 schools to reduce the need for student remediation in post-secondary education
- adopt environmentally and economically sound business practices
- expand the diversity of the universities’ student bodies, faculties and staff
- effectively address military veterans’ needs to help ensure their success in the academic environment
- provide the support and resources to all students to help them achieve success
- provide adequate financial aid to help ensure that no student is denied access to one of the universities due to an inability to pay
- increase efforts to accommodate the needs and schedules of non-traditional students
- pursue entrepreneurial ways to generate the revenues necessary to ensure a high-quality learning environment and experience
- Increase the universities’ role and engagement in economic development

Speaking at the news conference, G. David Gearhart, chancellor of the University of Arkansas, said institutions of higher education in the state must collaborate to provide an even better educated workforce and a more informed citizenry.

“Our public universities are the state’s most influential social, economic, cultural and educational force,” said Gearhart. “We, as the leaders of those institutions, must make sure that we demonstrate and communicate the ways we can, do and will serve the public’s interests. That means we must work together, operate our universities in a productive and accountable manner, and be good stewards of state resources.”

“The institutions of higher learning in Arkansas today have demonstrated their commitment to working toward Gov. Beebe’s goal of doubling our number of certificate and degree holders in the next decade,” added Shane Broadway, interim director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, who also participated in the news conference. “The staff at ADHE commends their efforts and will support their endeavors to bring about a new workforce with the knowledge and skills to better the economy and quality of life for all Arkansans.”

Along with Brown, Rankin and Gearhart, others who signed the pledge included:

• Joel E. Anderson, chancellor, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
• Paul B. Beran, chancellor, University of Arkansas at Fort Smith
• Lawrence A. Davis, chancellor, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
• G. Daniel Howard, interim chancellor, Arkansas State University
• H. Jack Lassiter, chancellor, University of Arkansas at Monticello
• Allen C. Meadors, president, University of Central Arkansas
• Robert L. Potts, interim president, Arkansas State University System
• Dan Rahn, chancellor, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
• B. Alan Sugg, president, University of Arkansas System
• Charles L. Welch, president, Henderson State University