National Park College Breaks Ground On Student Commons

National Park College (NPC) held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday, April 6 for a new Student Commons building. Governor Asa Hutchinson addressed the crowd and the Oaklawn Foundation announced a $400,000 gift for the Hospitality and Tourism program.

Student Commons groundbreaking at National Park College.Representative and NPC Foundation Board Chair Les Warren emceed the event. He said, “We have seen many additions to the academic offerings and student life opportunities at NPC. We have more transfer agreements with Arkansas universities than ever before. We chose a mascot, the nighthawks, and started intramural sports as well as a basketball program. All of these undertakings have the effect of offering a great experience for Garland County students so they will choose to start college here and stay in Garland County upon graduation.”

Pictured left to right, Representative Les Warren, Trustee Forrest Spicher, Governor Asa Hutchinson, Dr. John Hogan, Trustee Gail Ezelle, Senator Bill Sample, Trustee Beverly Joe, Trustee Joyce Craft, Trustee Larry Bailey, Trustee Raymond Wright, Trustee Mike Bush, and Trustee and Building and Grounds Committee Chair Jim Hale.

NPC President, Dr. John Hogan said, “Our students’ dreams are our dreams. What we have to do, what obstacles we have to move, what support we have to provide, what classes we have to teach, what legislation we have to pass, it is focused on those dreams.”

Hogan explained the College has reduced administrative overhead by approximately five percent over the past few years. “We want our investments to be in faculty, and student affairs, and services that touch students directly because that means they are more likely to persist, more likely to succeed and graduate,” he said. “Here, we reinvest that in student success. What we are talking about today is a facility, a master plan that to us is another one of those investments in student success,” said Hogan.

Hogan described the new building as a “monument to that heart of student success.” He explained that the project would include a new entrance from Mountain Pine Road. The new building will house a new bookstore, food services, coffee shop, and other student amenities. The first floor will include conference space, and the second floor will include classroom spaces as well as offices for student support staff.

A new marine technology building will also be constructed as part of phase one of the master plan. The Gerald Fisher Campus Center will be converted into classroom spaces. The Innovative Technologies Center and the Hospitality and Tourism Program will relocate to the first floor of the Gerald Fisher Campus Center.

Oaklawn Foundation Chairman, Dennis Smith announced a $400,000 investment in the NPC Hospitality and Tourism program. The funds will be used for new equipment, and construction and renovation to create a 7,500 square foot Hospitality and Tourism Center.

Governor Asa Hutchinson Governor Asa Hutchinson said, “As I reflected on your presentation and what’s happening here at National Park College, I am reminded that you are doing everything that we need to be done in Arkansas at our two-year colleges.”

Governor Hutchinson said, “Tourism is the number two industry in the state of Arkansas.” He explained the importance of tourism to the state’s economy. He stated, “The partnership with the two-year college, National Park, is essential and I love to see that investment in tourism.”

“I like the fact that you are making student success affordable,” said Governor Hutchinson. He commended the College for their participation in concurrent credit programs and their support of the ARFuture scholarship program. “What you are doing here is essential. The role of two-year colleges in Arkansas is very important for our success. We want to increase the number of post-secondary credentials.”

Board of Trustees Chair, Forrest Spicher said, “It’s an exciting time on campus at National Park College.” He spoke about the importance of having a clear vision and embracing change. “National Park College is embracing change so that our students, our faculty, our staff, our leadership, and our broader community will be able to thrive and continue to be relevant. The Student Commons is more than just a building,” said Spicher. “It’s an investment in our community, much like the investment of the Oaklawn Foundation has made in our College.”

Spicher closed by noting that all of these investments contribute to the educational attainment of our students and citizens. “This investment and many more to come besides the Student Commons building will provide an impactful return for our students and for the community,” he said.