UA Board of Trustees approves UAM strategic plan

Student success and making the University of Arkansas at Monticello a model open-access institution are the cornerstones of a new strategic plan for UAM approved recently by the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.
The plan, entitled “2021 Vision—Breaking Boundaries: Creating Access, Success, and Growth in Arkansas and Beyond,” is the culmination of campus-wide effort spearheaded by Chancellor Karla Hughes to articulate a vision for UAM’s future.
During the 2016-17 academic year, groups of UAM faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and other stakeholders began a five-year strategic planning process “to move forward and create a lifetime of legacies centered on student success and sustainability for Southeast Arkansas and beyond,” Hughes said. “We are truly going beyond the boundaries to a new paradigm of greatness.”
The strategic plan spotlights three major areas—student success, gains in enrollment and retention, and a revitalization of the campus infrastructure. The student success initiative includes developing, delivering and maintaining quality academic programs, including a revised general education curriculum and an expansion of academic and degree offerings at the technical, associate, baccalaureate and graduate levels to meet state, regional and national demands. The plan also calls for recruiting and retaining high achieving faculty and staff as well as expanding accessibility to academic programs through institutional partnerships, satellite programs, alternative course delivery and online partnerships with eVersity.
The plan also includes creating gains in enrollment and retention by creating concurrent enrollment partnerships with public schools, especially in the areas of math transition courses; providing assistance and outreach initiatives for working adults, international students and transfers; developing marketing efforts that will highlight alumni, recognize outstanding faculty and staff, and spotlight student success; developing a plan to assist first-year and at-risk students; and identifying prime recruiting areas and developing strategies for tapping those areas.
Infrastructure revitalization includes preparing economic impact studies to align university programs and partnerships with business and industry; preparing and updating the University Master Plan; working closely with state legislators and the UA System to maximize funding opportunities; and increasing external funding by increased efforts to earn research and grant funds, creating a philanthropic culture among incoming student, graduates and the community; and engaging in a collaborative fund-raising effort with alumni and athletics.
“This is an ambitious plan that is the result of many hours of work by dedicated teams who gave of their time to make a lasting contribution to the university,” Hughes said. “This is not my vision; it is our vision to move UAM forward, building on the legacy of those who have come before us.”
New programs, modifications
The creation of three new academic programs and modifications to two existing programs at the University of Arkansas at Monticello were approved by the UA Board of Trustees at a meeting in Fayetteville in early September.
The board approved the creation of a Site Specific Management option to the Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture, a Technical Certificate in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, and a Certificate of Proficiency in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Fundamentals. Both technical programs will be offered at the UAM College of Technology at Crossett.
The board approved changing the name of the Administrative Office Technology Technical Certificate to Business Technology as well as changing the name of the Office Support Certificate of Proficiency to Basic Business Principles.
The board also approved curriculum changes to two existing programs—the Master of Education Degree in Physical Education and Coaching, which will include modifications to existing courses to include a broader range of content within the curriculum, and modifications to the curriculum in the Master of Arts in Teaching educator licensure program.
“I am excited about the new academic offerings and the changes to existing programs,” said UAM Chancellor Karla Hughes. “The site specific management option in agriculture gives us the potential to be an internationally recognized model program at the bachelor of science level.”
The new program merges agriculture technology, agronomy and agriculture business to prepare students to meet the demands of “metadata” crop and farm management.
“The use of geo-referenced data collection in agriculture for analysis and management decisions is an emerging field of study,” Hughes explained. “Site specific agriculture management is a new, dynamic and expanding area that requires individuals with technical, agronomic, agribusiness and management backgrounds.
“Career opportunities are increasing with large farming operations, consulting firms, farmer cooperatives, implement dealers, seed sales and technical support, and crop production industries. This program has the potential to attract students to UAM from outside our current marketing area.”
Both the technical certificate and certificate of proficiency programs in HVAC/R were created to meet the expressed needs of businesses and private homeowners.
“Over the past several years, potential students and existing students, public school counselors, business and industry employers have indicated a need for an HVAC/R technology program,” said Hughes. “We believe we have the potential to attract as many as 75 students to the program.
The HVAC/R program will include the option of a 37-hour technical certificate or a 16-hour certificate of proficiency, providing students with the knowledge and laboratory experiences in the diagnosis, repair, service and maintenance of HVAC/R equipment.
Changes to the Master of Physical Education and Coaching degree program include the addition of three new courses to meet national standards for coaching and physical education. The three new courses are Exercise Pharmacology, Sports Skills Analysis and Development, and Sports Sociology. The new courses will become part of the curriculum in January.

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