Strategic Plan, 2016-17 Budget Gain Approval

Trustees approved a $168.5 million operating budget at Arkansas Tech University for the 2016-17 fiscal year during a meeting at the Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center on Thursday.

Included in the budget is a 1.86 percent tuition increase for the Arkansas Tech campus in Russellville. Undergraduate tuition will increase from $215 per student semester credit hour (SSCH) in 2015-16 to $219 per SSCH in 2016-17.

The 2016-17 budget also includes an increase in the student health and wellness fee from $3 per SSCH to $6 per SSCH and an increase in the transcript fee from $1 per SSCH to $2 per SSCH.

Trustees also approved a plan to begin phasing out the athletic transfer fee and replace it with an athletic student fee. The athletic transfer fee will be reduced from $15 per SSCH for residents of Arkansas to $5.50 per SSCH and from $30 per SSCH for non-residents of Arkansas to $11 per SSCH. The new athletic student fee will be $10 per SSCH.

Tuition and mandatory fees for an undergraduate student enrolled in 30 hours at Arkansas Tech during the 2016-17 academic year will be $8,280. Undergraduate students enrolled in 30 hours at Arkansas Tech during the recently completed 2015-16 academic year paid $7,740 in tuition and mandatory fees.

Graduate and doctoral tuition at Arkansas Tech will increase from $269 per SSCH in 2015-16 to $274 per SSCH in 2016-17.

Tuition at Arkansas Tech-Ozark Campus will increase from $113 per SSCH in 2015-16 to $118 per SSCH in 2016-17.

Also on Thursday, the Arkansas Tech Board of Trustees culminated a 12-month process by approving a strategic plan that is designed to chart the course for the university’s future.

“This document is a reflection of months of hard work from members of the executive planning council, strategic planning committee, working group chairs and working group members,” wrote Dr. Robin E. Bowen, Arkansas Tech president, in a memorandum presented to trustees. “Feedback and suggestions from our faculty, staff, and students have been considered, though not all have been included, in the final draft. In sum, I believe the strategic plan captures the spirit of what and where Arkansas Tech University aspires to be in the next five years. With your approval, I look forward to implementing the plan in fiscal year 2017 and beyond.”

The full strategic plan is available at

In other business on Thursday, the Arkansas Tech Board of Trustees approved:

*creation of full construction drawings for a proposed $2.8 million multi-purpose sports facility that will provide locker room, office and meeting space for the baseball program and indoor practice space for the baseball and softball programs;

*$2.1 million in renovations to the Doc Bryan Student Services Center, including the creation of a new space for the Arkansas Tech Health and Wellness Center and improvements in the Doc Bryan Lecture Hall;

*a transfer of $4 million from the unrestricted educational and general fund balance to the unexpended plant fund to provide resources for building maintenance needs as approved by the Board of Trustees;

*a renovation of the third floor at Crabaugh Hall at a cost of $249,352;

*creation of a computer lab at Norman Hall for the new Bachelor of Arts degree in game and interactive media design at a cost of $150,000;

*installation of a new fire alarm system at Corley Hall at a cost of $108,345;

*installation of computer fiber along East O Street for future university use at a cost of $40,866;

*replacement of the chiller at Witherspoon Hall at a cost of $503,222;

*selection of Miller Boskus Lack of Fayetteville to serve as architect for improvements to North El Paso Avenue for the benefit of students, faculty and staff;

*adjustments to institutional policies related to TIAA-CREF retirement plans to provide employees with greater flexibility in managing their accounts;

*renovations to the auditorium, the band room and the choir room in Witherspoon Hall in the amount of $310,696 as required for continued accreditation of the music program;

*renovations to Tucker Coliseum to include the replacement of the exterior doors and windows and renovation of the restrooms, concession area and hospitality/meeting room at Tucker Coliseum at a cost of $1.035 million;

*granting a 30-foot wide right of way, servitude and easement to the City of Russellville from Glenwood Avenue west across Arkansas Tech property to allow for adequate power supply to the city’s new aquatic center;

*an adjustment of the funding plan for $4.25 million in renovations to Wilson Residence Hall that will allow the university to pay cash rather than issuing revenue bonds and seeking a loan;

*refinancing of five auxiliary bond issues with expected savings of $2,537,485 over the life of the bonds;

*revisions to the membership and function, constitution, and by-laws of the Arkansas Tech Faculty Senate, which were voted upon by the senate and subsequently approved by the faculty at large;

*revisions to the membership of the Arkansas Tech Graduate Council, which were voted upon by the Graduate Council with input from the Faculty Senate;

*2016-17 fees and fines associated with student services, including residence life, testing center, public safety, health center and campus life;

*a proposal authorizing the president of the university to designate the vice president of academic affairs as the hiring official for adjunct faculty members;

*board meeting dates for 2016-17 of Aug. 18, 2016, Oct. 20, 2016, Dec. 15, 2016, Jan. 19, 2017, March 16, 2017, and May 18, 2017;

*and continuation of an existing policy that states: “carrying of a concealed handgun by staff members in the buildings or on grounds owned or leased by Arkansas Tech University is expressly prohibited and notices described in section 5-73-306(19) shall be posted.”

In personnel-related matters, the board approved hiring the following new faculty members for the 2016-17 academic year:

*Dr. Douglas Barron, assistant professor of biology; Dr. Bruce Chehroudi, department head and professor of mechanical engineering; Dr. Geoffrey Ecker, assistant professor of biology; Dr. Jacob Grosskopf, assistant professor of geology; Dr. Martha N. Harrell, assistant professor of computer and information science; Jessica Mongeon, visiting assistant professor of art; Dr. Mary Victoria Sharpe, assistant professor of English; Dustin Simpson, assistant professor of art; and Dr. A. Arwen Taylor, assistant professor of English.

Trustees approved hiring the following full-time staff members:

*Megan Edmonds, coordinator of Greek life, effective June 13, 2016; Laury Fiorello, assistant manager of fiscal affairs at Arkansas Tech-Ozark, effective May 16, 2016; Bernadette Hinkle, vice president for administration and finance, effective July 5, 2016; Weiwei Ji, instructional design specialist, effective June 1, 2016; Stephen Sisa, co-defensive coordinator for the football program, effective April 6, 2016; and Justin Smith, chief business and community outreach officer at Arkansas Tech-Ozark, effective April 25, 2016.

The board accepted the following resignations:

*Justina Buck, associate director of financial aid, effective July 29, 2016; Terri Frost, science specialist in the STEM Institute, effective May 31, 2016; Angie Hutson, director of placement for teacher education student services, effective June 30, 2016; Dr. Rebecca McHugh, assistant professor of psychology, effective Aug. 10, 2016; David Moseley, senior vice president for administration and finance, effective May 19, 2016; and Dr. James Steuber, associate professor of mechanical engineering, effective May 7, 2016.

Trustees accepted the retirements of:

*Shirley Goines, director of financial aid, effective June 30, 2016; Debra Hines, workforce education faculty in practical nursing at Arkansas Tech-Ozark, effective May 7, 2016; June Lawson, visiting assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, effective May 8, 2016; and Joy Wheeler, research assistant, effective June 30, 2016.