ASU chancellor visits Rector
Arkansas State University interim chancellor Dr. Dan Howard told a large group attending a luncheon Monday in Rector that ASU "is a huge magnet that draws business to our region."
Howard's talk was the highlight of the noon event, sponsored by the Rector High School Helping Hands Foundation, which has awarded numerous scholarships to students, including many attending ASU.
"Points of Pride" at ASU were outlined by Howard in a power point presentation which noted growth and positive changes at ASU over recent years.
Howard first noted ASU moved in 2011 from a tier III institution to a tier I institution as selected by the editors of U.S. News & World Report in America's Best Colleges for 2011 and again achieved tier I ranking in America's Best Colleges for 2012.
Current enrollment at ASU is at an all-time high of 14,200, Howard said, making ASU the second largest institution of higher education in the state, behind only the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
Raising ASU's undergraduate admission standards (in three phases) is leading to increased student retention and graduation rates, Howard said, helping ASU recruit better students and placing ASU in a perfect trajectory for performance-based funding that has been mandated by state law.
Of great pride to the university, he said, are statistics showing the freshman retention rate in the fall of 2011 rose to 71.3 percent, an increase of five percent in just two years. The latest six-year graduation rate is 40.2 percent, which is 15 percent higher than the number reported in 2010.
Approximately 1,250 students graduated from ASU in December 2011, Howard noted, requiring for the first time that the university hold two commencement ceremonies as it does in May. The total was the highest ever recorded in December, exceeding the previous high of 965 by 285 students.
Almost 2,000 students graduated from ASU in May 2011, the largest graduating class in the history of ASU, representing more than 570 students above the previous highest level at any ASU commencement.
Overall, in the 2010-11 fiscal year, 3,546 students graduated from ASU -- 33 percent higher than the previous record set in fiscal 2010.
Among other "Points of Pride," Howard also noted:
ASU is enrolling more international students than ever before (increasing from 127 students from approximately 45 countries in the spring of 2008), with 1,088 students in the fall of 2011 from 65 countries.
Enrollment in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program has grown from three students in the spring of 2008 to 321 students today.
Student participation in study abroad programs has grown from 64 in 2008 to 147 in 2011, 130 percent increase in three years.
In 2008 ASU did not have any students enrolled in academic program delivered online, but today there are more than 2,100 students (primarily teachers) enrolled in master's degree and educational specialist degree programs delivered by distance learning.
ASU is producing more academic degrees at the Associate, Baccalaureate, Master's and Educational Specialist levels than ever before.
Undergraduate ACT scores at ASU are increasing. The average ACT score of entering freshmen has increased by 7.5 percent over the last three years, to 22.8 in 2011. This is substantially more than Arkansas (19.9) and national (21.1) averages.
ASU has more students enrolled in the Honors College than any time previously, with 769 enrolled as of fall 2011.
ASU has the largest freshman Honors Class in its history, with 239 enrolled in fall 2011.
ASU has been named among the top 10 most veteran-friendly campuses in the nation by Military Times EDGE magazine. The university also has been recognized as among the most military friendly schools by the editors of Military Advanced Education in the fifth annual Guide to Military Friendly Colleges and Universities and by editors of G.I. Jobs in the 2012 Guide to Military Friendly Schools.
Howard also recognized ASU's sports program for increasing excellence, noted the growth of students living on campus and outlined scheduled and proposed building programs.
"Simply put, ASU is transforming positively and is doing exceedingly well on virtually all performance measures due to the excellent support of the Board of Trustess, the strong support of the alumni and other donors, and the hard work and dedication of the faculty and support staff of the university," he concluded.
The luncheon began with a welcome by Helping Hands Foundation board president Gregg Sain. The invocation was given by Rector elementary principal Nate Henderson. An overview of the Foundation and its work was given by board member Leland Blackshare. Dr. Howard was introduced by Gail Burns, HHF executive director.
Closing remarks were given by RHS students Sydney Simmons and Alec Scott, representing a group of 34 Helping Hands Foundation student ambassadors, who are learning how to best serve their school and the community.
The luncheon was held at Genny's Kitchen in Rector and also included a delicious catfish meal.