NPC Board Approves Study For On Campus Housing

National Park College (NPC) Board of Trustees held their regular monthly meeting Wednesday, June 27 where they approved a resolution to begin a feasibility study for on-campus housing. Items for report included updates on the campus master plan, diversity initiatives, and the Innovative Technologies Center.

Vice President for Finance and Administration, Steve Trusty asked the board to approve a resolution allowing for a pre-development agreement for on-campus housing. The College plans to select a vendor to complete a comprehensive feasibility study to determine if the project is viable and estimate potential capacity needed for the project. The need for on-campus housing was identified in a recent campus climate survey and is expected to increase as NPC continues to expand the honors program, athletics and other extracurricular activities.

When surveyed, 38 percent of responding students were interested or very interested in on-campus housing options and 34 percent of respondents travel more than 30 minutes to campus. The availability of on-campus housing plays a significant role in student success, aiding in retention and providing an affordable living option. “We are working on this effort because students asked and because we believe it will open new markets, making college more accessible. Students who live on campus are more likely to succeed and graduate,” said NPC President, Dr. John Hogan.

Trustee Jim Hale provided an update on progress toward phase one of the campus master plan. Hale said the utilities are being relocated and the building pad in nearly complete. Concrete work for the foundation should begin at the end of the week and a slab should be ready in August. Hale expects steel for the building’s frame will begin going up in September.

Chief Diversity Officer and Interim Vice President for External Affairs, Darla Thurber provided an update on the past year’s diversity initiatives. Thurber stated diversity must be deliberate in order to reach the campus’ goals and the needs of underrepresented students and employees. She established a diversity and inclusion council that is working to develop a campus diversity and inclusion plan.

Vice President for Human Resources, Janet Brewer reported NPC was named one of 18 Most Promising Places to Work In Community Colleges by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) and Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. NPC was one of eight schools with a perfect score. Brewer reported the College has 14 percent minority employees and works to be sure the hiring process is diverse. She noted NPC has eliminated the pay gap between male and female faculty members. “We have situated ourselves as being one of the most competitive employers in the state, especially amongst community colleges,” noted Brewer.

Psychology instructor, Sheri LaDuke shared findings from a recent campus climate survey. She explained the impact campus climate has on student success. Results indicated overall students reported having a positive experience at NPC regardless of race, gender or disability. NPC has taken a proactive approach to diversity and inclusion, which LaDuke attributed to the positive results. Areas of significance that the team plans to address include categories of women and those who reported a disability. “We have really good overall ratings and we have some things to work on that we are addressing,” said LaDuke.

Kelli Albrecht, Vice President for Workforce and Strategic Initiatives updated the Board on the Innovative Technologies Center. The ITC was awarded an $890,280 regional workforce continuation grant from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE) last week. The continuation grant will allow the ITC to build on previous success, providing even more opportunities to partner with local industry, develop additional educational programming for K-12 and college students, and launch a makerspace this fall. Albrecht said the center received $100,000 in in-kind donations this year.

The ITC is hosting a variety of summer camps this year. Camps for engineering, drones, crime scene investigation, and manufacturing are scheduled for July. Information for summer camps is available at www.np.edu/ITC.