NPC Sees Return on Investment in Student Success


Hot Springs, Arkansas – National Park College (NPC) Board of Trustees held their regular monthly meeting Wednesday, June 28. Items for report included updates regarding investments in student success and workforce initiatives.

The Board welcomed special guest Representative Les Warren. He spoke to the group about his experience in the legislature this year and commended the College for helping him understand issues affecting higher education.

Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, Dr. Jerry Thomas discussed investments made in student success initiatives to help increase the number of students earning a degree. A new full-time recruiter will be responsible for fostering strong relationships with target high schools and community partners to attract students to campus. He noted that enhanced communications through social media outlets, email campaigns, and phone call campaigns have made a significant impact on enrollment.

Dr. Thomas emphasized the importance of retaining students once they are enrolled. Advising plays a critical role in promoting student success and helps to retain students. He said students who feel connected to the College, understand their purpose and have clear academic and career goals are more apt to persist and graduate.

Key findings from the annual Survey of Entering Student Engagement (SENSE) showed 82.1 percent of NPC respondents agreed or strongly agreed that, “At NPC, an academic advisor has provided me with information about academic support services.” The 2016 SENSE respondents reported 71.4 percent agreed or strongly agreed.

62.1 percent of NPC respondents reported that they had a clear academic plan and pathway, this compares to 50 percent of the 2016 cohort. The top-performing colleges reported 62 percent.

77.6 percent of NPC respondents reported that, “The College provided me with adequate information about financial assistance.” The 2016 SENSE cohort reported 53.9 percent.

Many students struggle with managing their finances, which impacts their ability to be successful in college. NPC purchased the financial literacy program, Financial Avenue by Inceptia, to help students make wise choices when it come to their finances.

Student Affairs has a comprehensive student orientation planned for this fall. The new design is student focused with an emphasis on relationships, helping to answers student questions, and equipping students with information necessary to be a successful student.

Investments have also been made in student clubs and organizations on campus. Cheer squad tryouts will be held July 15. More than 17 students have already expressed interest. The competitive club sports program continues to attract attention from students and parents. Dr. Thomas explained that the student success equation should include a successful onboarding experience, where the student successfully connects to the college and has a clear path toward their academic goals. Providing students with continued support though student services, tutoring, mentoring, and financial literacy and providing students a meaningful experience through club sports, cheerleading and many other student organizations helps with retention. Each of these services lead to successful on-time completion.

Dr. Yolanda Mitchell, National Park University (NPU) Center Director, provided an update. To date, NPU has developed 67 transfer degrees, including 25 new degrees that will be offered this fall. For fall 2018, NPU will be developing transfer degree paths in computer science and hospitality administration.

Kelli Albrecht, Vice President for Workforce and Strategic Initiatives reported the Community and Corporate Training Department has had 2,674 non-credit registrations for a total of 36,459 contact hours, and increase of 17 percent from the previous year.

Spring 2017 contact hours totaled 17,510 with 12,343 of those contact hours directly related to customized workforce training. Training is currently being developed and/or deployed for 10 local employers. Twenty companies have contracted with Community and Corporate Training to provide 481 students customized training in 33 classes that included workforce skills training such as Welding, MS Excel, Resort Safety, Forklift Certification, CPR, Active Shooter, CNC Machining, Solidworks, and Leadership Development.

Albrecht reported the team is working to establish an HVAC Apprenticeship program. She recently met with local HVAC contractors to discuss the HVAC program and they voted to support it almost unanimously. Applications have been submitted to the state and the Department of Labor with a goal to begin the program in August of this year. HVAC employers are helping to develop curriculum, hire instructors, and will be sending their employees to the classes.

The new schedule of classes for fall 2017 will be included as an insert in the Sentinel Record Sunday, July 9th. NPC continues to expand offerings through the Innovative Technologies Center. An FAA Part 107 Drone Pilot Certification Course that is required to fly drones commercially will be available this fall. The most popular courses are computer classes, from Introduction to Advance Excel, the majority of which are held at the Downtown Education Center. A total of 25 classes are scheduled downtown this fall.

Dr. John Hogan concluded the meeting with the president’s report. He commended the board for their support of student success and workforce initiatives that impact the community. He noted the College has invested in seven new full-time faculty positions for next year, placing an emphasis on instructional quality that will help students be more successful. NPC has 100 full-time faculty for fall 2017, compared to 93 in 2016. Adjunct instructors totaled 78 this spring. NPC employs 12 Ph.D. level faculty, with four more pursuing Ph.Ds.

Darla Thurber has agreed to serve as the College’s Chief Diversity Officer. In addition to her regular duties, she will be responsible for guiding efforts and creating opportunities to define, assess, and promote diversity on campus.

Dr. Hogan congratulated Dr. Wade Derden, Vice President for Academic Affairs for his recent appointment as peer reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission. Vice President for Financial Affairs and Administration, Steve Trusty was recently named Oaklawn Rotary Club’s Rotarian of the Year.