NPC Sees Growth In Summer Enrollment, Honors Program

National Park College (NPC) Board of Trustees held their regular monthly meeting Wednesday, August 22 where they announced a 26.7 percent increase in summer enrollment. Items for report included construction progress, updates on enrollment, the honors program, and the NPC Foundation.

Trustee Jim Hale provided an update on progress toward phase one of the campus master plan. Hale said all construction work is on schedule and under budget. Site utilities are almost complete and the foundation slab will begin pouring this Friday. Hale expects steel for the building’s frame will begin going up in September.

Marine Technology Building designHale shared preliminary renderings of the new 7,500 square feet Marine Technology building. The facility will be 60 feet deep and 125 feet in length with four 12 x 20 foot bays. A classroom, office space and storage space will be included in the building with room to expand. Hale plans to move forward with the architect to begin working on the design drawings which will likely take a couple of months to complete. He is hopeful work could begin toward the end of the year.

Dr. Jerry Thomas, Vice President for Student Affairs reported a 26.7 percent increase in summer enrollment. Summer terms had 858 students enrolled, compared to 677 last year. The majority of these students were part-time enrolled in six credit hours or less and most were working to complete requirements for their associate degree.

Thomas attributed the increase in summer enrollment to the United States Congress’ decision to reinstate the Summer Pell Grant program, which was eliminated in 2012. Since being restored, a full-time student who is taking 12 hours is eligible for $2,960 and a part-time student is eligible for $1,480.

History instructor Dr. Christopher Thrasher provided an update on the Honors program. In August 2017, the program began with 13 students. This semester the program includes eight returning students and 28 new recruits for a total of 36 honors students.

Last year, Honors students participated in numerous volunteer activities with the Ouachita Children's Center, Lake DeGray State Park, and helped clean up the college amphitheater. This year, they voted to focus their volunteer efforts on Habitat For Humanity. Students also expressed interest in working with Ouachita Children's Center and a meeting to discuss these efforts will take place in early September. Honors student Emma McKnight said, “Service learning is really important for the program and it has helped me explore various career paths.” She added, “Through service learning, I have been able to figure out what career path I’m interested in.”

The Honors Program is also focused on placing students into internships. Students are working with the Hot Springs Police Department, Hot Springs National Park, and additional students are in the process of being placed.

Dr. John Hogan announced that NPC will host a special event Thursday, September 13 at noon in the Frederick M. Dierks Center for Nursing and Health Sciences. Minnijean Brown Trickey, civil rights activist and member of the Little Rock Nine, along with her daughter, Spirit Tawfiq, will speak to students and the community with a message of peace and reconciliation in celebration of the International Day of Peace.

Ms. Brown Trickey changed history in 1957 by walking through the doors of Little Rock Central High with protection from federal troops. She is a teacher, writer, and motivational speaker and served in the Clinton Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Workforce Diversity at the Department of Interior.

This event is part of the NPC Cultural Diversity Club's "We Belong" Speaker Series and is presented by the Women’s Leadership Council. Additional sponsorships include Lewis Architects Engineers, First Security Bank, and Regions Bank. The event is free and open to the public, and lunch will be provided to attendees. Due to limited space, NPC is hoping to partner with local school districts to provide a livestream of the event to their campuses.

Nicole Herndon, Interim Director of Development and Darla Thurber, Interim Vice President for External Affairs, provided an NPC Foundation update. The Foundation is currently working to streamline current business processes and focus on forward facing activities such as engagement and cultivation. The team is developing cases for support to provide information about specific giving opportunities and branding a new year-round annual giving program.

Herndon expressed the foundation’s priorities are to be the best fiduciary agents possible with gifts they receive and to keep loyal donors informed about campus progress. Donors were invited to campus earlier today for a campus update with Dr. Hogan, followed by a tour and then time to visit with students. A similar event is planned for Thursday. The Foundation Board of Governors will hold its annual retreat in October to update its bylaws, approve a new policy and procedure manual, and finalize a new strategic plan.