Montgomery County News, Arkansas -

UA Rich Mountain sees enrollment spike

UA Rich Mountain Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Chad Fielding released the final enrollment numbers for Fall 2019 and as was anticipated, enrollment is up. The largest jump is in first-time entering freshman, 56.7%. “I believe what we are experiencing is the direct result of the announcements we have been making over the last few months with our expanding athletics program and the ground-breaking of new on-campus housing. That was always the goal behind the strategic planning. The added bonus for us was Dr. Steinmetz’s announcement during our graduation ceremonies in May.” 

Fielding was referring to the Arkansas Transfer Achievement Scholarship announced by UA Fayetteville’s Chancellor Dr. Joe Steinmetz that allows UA Rich Mountain Associate of Arts degree graduates to transfer to the flagship campus on the hill but continue to pay UA Rich Mountain tuition rates.  

Full-time enrollment is up 16.31% and retention rates are at a 5-year high of 65% for degree seeking students. Fielding credited his staff and the advisors who have been extremely pro-active in this area. While he’s proud of these numbers, they will continue to strive to improve. 

Another area of growth is Student Semester Credit Hours (SSCH) which increased 12%. This number is particularly important in regards to the way colleges are funded by the state of Arkansas. In year’s past, colleges were funded strictly on head-count. Today’s complex formula is designed to measure the college’s overall performance in getting students graduated within a certain time-frame, among other criterion. 

Chancellor Dr. Phillip Wilson said everyone is beginning to see a shift in the perception of the college by local juniors and seniors. Kim Bass, mother of a local Mena High School senior, said after he attended Senior Day this week, Brendon has re-evaluated his options. Bass said her son had always planned to attend a four-year university to pursue a degree in Forestry but after learning he could save $30,000 by staying home his first two years and then transferring, he thought it was a ‘no-brainer’ to start as a Buck. 

“We’re hopeful that students are beginning to recognize that we can offer the ‘full collegiate’ experience that many are looking forward to at this stage in their lives. We have impeccable faculty and staff who are committed to our students’ success… and on a very personal level. And, if we can save them an average of $15,000 per year as opposed to the average cost of a four-year university, it’s a win-win for everyone. This is what community colleges do and I believe no one does it better than UA Rich Mountain,” said Chancellor Wilson. “What we are seeing this Fall 2019, I believe, is only a small taste of what we will be seeing this same time next year. We will have added two additional sports [baseball and softball] and on-campus housing will be open. More and more students, locally and beyond, are recognizing the full experience of UA Rich Mountain. You can comb the Bucks Athletics Facebook page and see post after post by parents and student-athletes that are blown away by the caliber of our facilities, the friendliness of our staff, and the beauty of our part of the Ouachitas. This is only the beginning.”

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