National Park College (NPC) board members and staff welcomed local legislators to
campus Thursday to provide updates regarding campus projects.
Dr. John Hogan discussed expansion of the nursing program and the partnership with Henderson State University (HSU) and CHI Hot Springs, stating, “Our hope is to increase the pipeline of registered nursing students.” He explained that the endeavor requires a significant investment on behalf of the College in addition to the generous investment from CHI Hot Springs to expand clinical simulation labs. “We are still hoping that Henderson will offer the completion year here on our campus.” The last year of coursework is currently offered online.
Hogan noted the College has been studying the need and feasibility of adding residence halls to campus. He said the Student Affairs Office has been researching vendors that would construct and potentially manage the facilities so that no state or local resources are spent on the project.
Representative Bruce Cozart said, “What I am really excited about here is that you are growing. You are extending. You are adding more chances to get that four-year degree, which is what has been needed for years and I am excited about that. The expansion and possibly residence halls, a place for people to live, that is just amazing.”
Hogan explained an interesting development that was discovered from recent focus group data was that many of our students are relocating here from other areas of the state and beyond for programs like radiography, marine and nursing. The addition of residence halls could potentially alleviate housing barriers for these students among others.
Phase one of the campus master plan is set to break ground in February. The project will include construction of a new student commons facility that will be approximately 50,000-53,000 square feet, renovation of the Fisher Campus Center and expansion of technical programs. Hospitality and Marine Technology programs are both in need of more space to meet student demand and accreditation requirements. Construction will also include a new entrance to campus from Mountain Pine Road. August 2019 is the goal for project completion.
Hogan explained that students are especially concerned with identifying a pathway to a four-year degree. National Park University (NPU) Center agreements have helped to make those transitions smoother for students. NPC conducted a community wide survey last month to gather feedback about the need for bachelor’s degree in Garland County. The results were overwhelmingly positive and the need is substantial. “We are learning what we intuitively knew and that is there is a marketplace. There is a workforce need. Our attainment in Garland County is behind the average in Arkansas and so we are continuing to explore this through partnerships with other four-year universities,” said Hogan. “We have a very robust and successful relationship with Henderson,” he added.
Board Chair, Forest Spicher thanked the legislators for their support of the College. “One of the resounding notions that I have begun to appreciate in our community is that higher education leads to economic opportunity and economic advancement,” he said. “If National Park College continues to invest in the output of degree attainment, we can anticipate and expect more economic opportunity in our community, more high paying jobs, more nursing, more engineering, more business, more education.” He went on to explain, “Anything that has been a success in our community has always been well funded, well led.” He pointed out that secondary education or K-12, tourism, and retirement have all been successful because of the substantial investments made. “I’m convinced that what we do here at National Park College is really the key. It is the hub. It’s the starting point for economic opportunity,” Spicher concluded.
Pictured left to right, seated at the table are NPC Board Chair, Forest Spicher, Representative Bruce Cozart, Trustee Joyce Craft, Representative Les Warren, Trustee Mike Bush, Trustee Larry Bailey, Trustee Beverly Joe, and Senator Bill Sample.