If chosen as the new chancellor of the University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College, “I promise I won’t stop learning, I’ll ask a lot of questions — I’ll always ask ‘Why’ — and if I tell you, ‘No’, I’ll tell you why,” swore Summer DeProw, one of three finalists for chancellor.
As a consensus builder experienced with “adaptability,” DeProw will “help us all together develop a vision” for UA-PTC that “we can all follow,” she said Monday during a public forum at UA-PTC headquarters. campus in North Little Rock. “We’re all on the same team here, all climbing the same mountain for the students.
“We are a comprehensive institution – everything the industry needs – but we need to do more,” she said on Monday, citing, as an example, the AU-PTC must emphasize and develop university programs that lead to decent salaries for students.
UA-PTC and other community colleges in the state “are in the business of teaching Arkansans how to earn a living in the workforce,” argued Russell Mathis, who was part of the hearing on Monday. They “strengthen our state’s workforce”.
“Our job is to apply new knowledge ‘from industry and top research institutes’ and teach people how to use it,” said DeProw, UA-PTC Provost/Vice Chancellor for Business. scholars and students. “Bring high technology, but we also need to” equip students with basic knowledge and basic skills so that they can master advanced concepts.
Math, writing, and more are “made real — they’re applied” — at colleges like UA-PTC, as well as in the workplace, DeProw said. “We are creating lifelong learners here.”
However, “we can’t do it alone,” so building “two-way partnerships” with other colleges and universities, community groups and industry is paramount, she said. “If it can help our students, we will.”
Students must also feel safe at school to succeed, “as safe as Grandma’s table or Sunday school,” DeProw said. It is essential that they graduate, which may require more “success coaching” via – for example – more academic advisors.
UA-PTC also needs to consider different approaches, especially with non-traditional students, she said. “We need to recruit this older student, and we need to give them a different education” – more hybrid and online courses could be beneficial, for example, especially because UA-PTC teachers are already doing a “work amazing” with online education.
Enrollment at Pulaski Tech has declined for three consecutive years, falling to 4,223 this fall, from 4,425 in 2021, 4,833 in 2020 and 5,531 in 2019, so “enrollment needs to go up, but I don’t believe it you have to compromise the quality of the student experience, and everything in higher education comes at a high cost,” DeProw said. As enrollment increases, so does a college’s expenses, but DeProw s is committed to “always keeping quality first”.
DeProw aims for “strategic recruiting,” she said. While UA-PTC targets students in their teens and early to mid-20s well, “what about those in their 30s and 40s who want to scale or downsize?”
“So many people want to finish a degree” they started and quit, while others want to add skills, and still others want to learn a new trade, she said. This encompasses a wide range of the population – from people with spouses, children and mortgages, to those struggling to put a roof over their heads – but “working with these people is a strength of this institution”.
In addition to his public forum on Monday, DeProw met with various stakeholders from the University of Arkansas campus, community and system, a procedure also followed by the Chancellor’s two other finalists, Wade Derden, vice president. of Academic Affairs at National Park College, and Ted A. Lewis. , provost/vice president of academic and student affairs at Bluefield State University in West Virginia. Derden and Lewis both visited UA-PTC and held their forums last week.
Mathis was keen to attend Monday’s forum because he is “the new leader of our institution, and I have a real passion for this place,” said the UA-PTC Foundation board member and former director of the AU-PTC Campus Center. “I am encouraged [by what I’ve heard.]”
The AU-PTC search committee evaluated applicants from 17 states. Interim Chancellor Ana Hunt, who did not apply for the position of full-time chancellor, “will continue to act as interim chancellor until one of the finalists is chosen and begins work” at the college, according to the UA system.
Hunt was appointed as interim UA System Chairman Donald Bobbitt – who will also make a recommendation for the next UA-PTC Chancellor to the UA System Board – in June following the Chancellor’s retirement. Margaret Ellibee, who announced in January her intention to retire effective June 30.
UA-PTC must become more “effective and efficient, [because] if we can become very solid in our processes, it relieves our employees, [which] allows them to be more efficient,” DeProw said. “With efficient processes, there is more time to spend with students and engage with them.”
DeProw, who received her doctorate in higher education from the University of Mississippi and holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting, a master’s degree in business administration and a specialist in teaching at community colleges in the USA. Arkansas State University, served as chair of the business department and associate professor of commerce at Williams Baptist University before returning to Arkansas State, according to the UA system. She started there as Director of Assessment before becoming Deputy Vice Chancellor for Assessment and Accreditation, then became Provost at AU-PTC a year ago.
DeProw was asked Monday about seeking funding from the legislature and working with lawmakers, and she promised to build trust with them by listening to them.
Lawmakers bring voter concerns with them, and that listening also builds trust, she said. She will also go “prepared, armed with data and policies, and I will have thought through” the pros and cons of potential legislation.
Reorganizing the advancement office, as “we don’t have a fundraising engine at this stage”, would also be a priority as chancellor, but “we are financially stable”, she said. “This institution is in an incredible financial situation.”
UA-PTC, the largest two-year college in the UA system, was established in 1945 as a vocational and technical school, but has evolved over the years to meet different educational needs, according to the UA system. In addition to its main campus in North Little Rock, the college has locations in Pulaski and Saline counties.
UA-PTC’s location – “10 minutes from the state capital – is an incredible privilege, [and] we can create more high-tech programs with a range of partners while becoming more efficient and effective,” she said. “We can create higher paying programs in a safe space for intellectual development.