Governor Asa Hutchinson held a joint conference with Henderson State University this morning, July 7, to discuss restructuring the HSU campus in the wake of serious financial troubles for the University, like layoffs and budget cuts. “I have confidence because tough decisions have been made,” the governor said. “They are tough decisions that have not been easy, they have been painful, and obviously we have compassion for those that happened to cut back on hours or have lost their employment, but this was necessary for the survival of Henderson State University.”
He cited several other reasons to have confidence in the future of HSU, such as the involvement of the Arkansas State University system, which provided services and guidance to the restructuring process, as well as what Gov. Hutchinson called a “singular focus on student success” by making education more accessible and more engaged, from college credits in high school all the way to graduate school. He strongly emphasized the University’s connection with industry to give students the skills they need to find success in their community.
Secretary Johnny Key, Commissioner of the Arkansas Department of Education, called the restructuring an major step towards how our education system ought to look a decade from now, giving students the adaptability to respond to the changing nature of the world and the economy.
Dr. Charles Ambrose, Chancellor of HSU, said that the University is now poised to take a giant leap forward thanks to the assistance of various groups like the Department of Education and the Arkadelphia community. “As we work together, we will not only meet 21st Century workforce needs, but we can actually lower the cost of college. We can accelerate the time it takes for students to get their degrees, we can eliminate the skills gap so that a college degree makes you workforce ready, and we can mitigate the use of student loan debt to pay.” According to him, Henderson has built a more stable and sustainable financial system that will allow them to reallocate financial resources to build personalized student pathways, helping them to complete their degrees. Dr. Ambrose explained that they hope to redefine the idea of who their students are, expanding opportunities to high school students and adult learners, many of whom had some college but never finished their degrees. “By working together, we will create opportunities that better serve our students and create a college that works for all.”
Shane Spite, Dean of the Medical School at the New York Institute of Technology, expressed his excitement at the chance to cooperate with Henderson State University. “It became evident to us as a medical school early on that we needed to leverage technology to be able to push education further. We had to think outside the box and remove the traditional models. Now, so true is it for higher education.” Now, those same technological resources that were used to great success in New York are at the disposal of HSU.
Governor Hutchinson assured listeners that Henderson State University is on solid financial footing and is well-positioned for the future with a unique place in offering an affordable pathway from grade school to the workforce.