Nighthawks Announce Plans to Join NJCAA

National Park College (NPC) Board of Trustees held their regular monthly meeting Wednesday, March 28. Items for report included plans to join the National Junior College Athletics Association (NJCAA), updates on the campus master plan, and a recruitment report.

Group of NPC basketball students surrounding the board of trustees while Jason Hudnell is speaking about the njcaa announcment.Dean of Enrollment, Jason Hudnell introduced student athletes and coaches from the men and women’s basketball teams and the cheer team. He recognized them for a very successful first year. Hudnell announced that Marvin Moody will coach the Nighthawk women’s team next year. “We are excited to have Marvin be a part of Nighthawk Nation. Marvin actually played basketball for the Garland County Community College Lakers.” Hudnell added, “It is fun to have somebody that was a part of our past to come and lead us into the future.”

Pictured left to right (standing), Lowell Washington, Marvin Moody, Jarvis Ricks, Emma McKnight, Brooke Neel, Jason Hudnell, Faith Bratton, and Braylon Steen. Seated left to right, Don Harris, Senator Alan Clark, Dr. John Hogan, and Forrest Spicher.

Student athletes Braylon Steen of Bryant and Faith Bratton of Jessieville thanked the board for their support of Nighthawk athletics. Bratton said, “I’d like to thank you all for allowing me to be a part of the Lady Nighthawks basketball team and I am looking forward to next year being a part of the NJCAA basketball association.”

Steen said, “It’s an honor and a privilege to be a Nighthawk here. I feel like we tried to do our best the first year to make a name for ourselves, and I think we accomplished that since we are joining the NJCAA.” He said the team would like to thank the board for allowing them to join the NJCAA. “We are looking forward to making this upcoming season successful as well.”

Dr. John Hogan asked the board to approve a resolution in support of the campus joining the NJCAA. The mission of the association matches NPC’s goals of emphasizing academics, athletics, and community leadership for student athletes. Data supports increased success for students involved in extracurricular activities that foster leadership and academic excellence.

“We want to make this investment because it makes our program more attractive, which makes our college more attractive,” said Hogan. “The most important reason to do it is that the men and women you just heard from really want to take that step. It is a very small monetary investment and we expect a significant return.”

Trustee Jim Hale provided an update on progress toward phase one of the campus master plan. The Board approved a $15 million campus expansion at a special called meeting in August, which includes construction of a new student commons facility, renovation of the Fisher Campus Center, and updates to technical program facilities. Hale said all of the engineering and architect work for the Student Commons building has been completed. A bid opening for subcontractors is scheduled for Tuesday, April 10 at 2 p.m. A groundbreaking ceremony is schedule Friday, April 6 at 1:30 p.m. Governor Asa Hutchinson will be in attendance, and Representative Les Warren will emcee the event.

Dr. Jerry Thomas said a stable economy and increased competition from online colleges has kept enrollment stagnant for many campuses. He said the Student Affairs team has worked to adapt to a changing marketplace and put the College on a growth trajectory.

Hudnell provided a recruitment report. He said their team has visited 15 different high schools with more than 50 visits this year and attended 22 college fairs. They continue to use text and email to target students. A recent direct mail campaign highlighting the affordability of NPC and scholarship opportunities was received in 31,044 households countywide. Applications for fall semester are up 30 percent over this time last year. 

Hudnell reported the Student Affairs team is also working to keep students engaged while they are on campus by hosting student activities and events and creating a traditional university experience. An early alerts system is in place to identify students who are struggling and connect them to available resources.

Hogan concluded the meeting with the president’s report. He noted the decision to join NJCAA is a “continuing investment in student success. Student athletes tend to stay in school, they tend to perform better academically, they are more likely to graduate and that is true of many other student activities that we can provide.”

He noted, “I am also very pleased with the applications being up, more opportunities to serve students, and more participation in post-secondary education.” He commended the team for their work to put in place sound enrollment management fundamentals.

Hogan said phase one of the campus master plan and the new entrance would forever change the face of the campus. He said, “All of that is about student success. I think the Student Commons is a monument to our passion and our effort to continue to improve on the success of our students and maximize those opportunities.”