UA system bans guns on campuses, approves new degree programs

by The City Wire staff ( 7 views 

The final day of the University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees meeting at the university's Fort Smith campus saw passage of several new degree programs and a renewal of the system's ban of guns on its 17 campuses across Arkansas.

According to UA System Communications Director Ben Beaumont, the gun ban passed Friday (March 21) without objection.

"It did (pass)," he said. "The recommendation that was included in the agenda was approved."

The original ban on firearms on campus was passed in the Spring of 2013, though UA System President Dr. Donald Bobbitt said such items must be renewed each year.

"Subsequent to the passage of Act 226, the Chancellors and a number of faculty and staff at the University of Arkansas System institutions, including campus public safety officers, expressed the opinion that the Board should adopt a policy expressly disallowing the carrying of a concealed handgun by staff members in the buildings or on the grounds of the University and to post the required notices," Bobbitt wrote in a memo to trustees, recommending renewal of the gun ban.

Among the degree programs approved at Friday's meeting, UA Fayetteville added an online bachelor of science degree in business administration with a general business major, which Bobbitt said would allow "the Walton College (of Business) to capture new markets (e.g., students abroad, degree completion, and adult learners)."

Students in the current on-campus program will be able to complete their studies, but new admissions to the program will be able to complete requirements through online-only education starting in the Fall semester.

The Fayetteville campus also saw approval of a new bachelor of international business with a major in retail. According to Bobbitt, a retail major was created at the school in 2011, though it had been separate from the international business degree.

"Adding the retail concentration would provide students the opportunity to choose a concentration from any of the major areas of study," he wrote, noting that other majors within the degree program include accounting, business economics, finance, general business, information systems, marketing, management and supply chain management.

Several other degree programs were approved at other campuses within the UA System. They include 12 online degree and certificate programs at the University of Arkansas Community College Morrilton, five new certificate programs at Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas, and 11 online degree and certificate programs at CCCUA.

The Board of Trustees created news during its first day of meetings Thursday (March 20) when it approved the creation of the system's 18th campus, the University of Arkansas eVersity, an online university that will cater to adult students who are unable to otherwise access a traditional college education.

“For many students, the optimum experience is to learn intensively under the mentorship of the exceptional faculty we have at each institution. However, for those students for which that is not possible, the eVersity will provide a much needed option,” Bobbitt said.

The proposal was made by Dr. Donald Bobbitt, president of the UA System, and his staff, as a response to a resolution passed by the board in November 2012 directing the system president to coordinate and expand online education in the system.

The two-day meeting of the UA System Board of Trustees was held at the Smith-Pendergraft Student Center at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, the first time the Board has met at UAFS since 2010.