Arkansas State University president receives raise; board updated on ASU Accelerate Project

by George Jared (gjared@talkbusiness.net) 271 views 

Arkansas State University System President didn’t get a 2% raise in July like the rest of the faculty and staff, but the ASU Board of Trustees rectified it when it gave him the raise at a meeting Friday in Little Rock. Welch didn’t receive a raise earlier this year because he was under review, and now that it is complete, his salary will rise $8,500 to $358,500 annually, according to ASU.

In other business, the ASU system will receive a third-party report early next year on ways to grow revenue, reduce costs and reallocate resources to strategic initiatives. Andrew Laws, managing director at Huron Consulting Group and the engagement leader for the Accelerate ASU project, gave members of the ASU Board of Trustees an update on progress of the efficiency study, which will cost almost $1 million to compete. The Huron team expects to present 40-50 opportunities to the system and its campuses with a majority focused on new revenues, he said. All faculty and staff were surveyed for input, and Huron received 900 responses with about 40% from faculty members. The study process is at the halfway point with most interviews and campus visits completed.

“You’re not alone in this,” he said. “Many universities desire to do better and find resources to invest in strategic projects. You’re doing it from a position of strength.”

Board members were pleased with the update.

“This is an indication of how this board operates and what their commitment is to make ASU better and more efficient and make best use of the people’s money for opportunities for our students,” Board Chairman Ron Rhodes said.

Trustee Price Gardner of Little Rock said he was “very impressed” with the overall scope and the deep dig they are doing. “I appreciate the cooperation of the staff on the campuses. Everyone seems to believe in this,” he said.

In the chancellors’ reports, all ASU System campuses noted heightened efforts to improve student retention, which is a key element in state higher education’s new productivity funding formula. ASU-Jonesboro Chancellor Kelly Damphousse said his team has reached out to fall students who haven’t enrolled for the spring semester to determine why and how the university can keep them. He also noted that closer collaboration between the recruiting and admissions offices has resulted in record levels of applications and admissions for the fall 2018 semester.

“We feel very confident about fall 2018 because we are ahead on scholarship offers, and we’ve also made changes regarding the ACT,” Damphousse said. “We’re accepting December scores for scholarship consideration, and we’re now accepting ACT super scores.”

Damphousse said the Jonesboro campus will have more than $80 million in privately funded construction underway in early 2018 with the north end zone project at Centennial Bank Stadium and the hotel and convention center project. Spring initiatives at ASU include an awareness campaign on sexual assault, a report from a Chancellor’s Commission on Completion regarding retention, and a comprehensive climate survey of how students feel about ASU.

Among action items, the Board approved:

  • Officers for 2018, including Dr. Tim Langford of Little Rock as chairman, Niel Crowson of Jonesboro as vice chairman and Stacy Crawford of Jonesboro as secretary.
  • A $1.3 million plan to replace roofs at the Fowler Center, the Education and Communications Building, and the Military Science Building.
  • A $1.5 million guaranteed energy cost savings capital project and related financing for ASU Mid-South.
  • An optional voluntary retirement program for the Jonesboro campus. To be eligible, employees must be at least 60 years of age and have 10 years of continuous full-time employment as of June 30, 2018.
  • New mission, vision and values statements and a new certificate of proficiency in quality technology for ASU Mid-South.

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