Black River Technical College President Eric Turner has resigned. Turner told Talk Business & Politics he has been offered the president’s job at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo. Turner’s last day will be Tuesday (July 31).
The 46-year-old will begin his duties as the SBU president-elect on Aug 6, and he will become SBU’s 25th president on Sept. 1. A timetable for finding Turner’s replacement has not been released. A Pocahontas native, Turner had been at the BRTC helm since 2014.
“With bittersweet emotion, I tendered my resignation to the Black River Board of Trustee Chair, Mr. Doug Cox,” Turner said.
SBU Board of Trustees Chariman Don Fahrni said his institution is pleased with the hire.
“Dr. Turner has demonstrated success in higher education leadership,” Fahrni said. “We are excited for his family to join the SBU family.”
The budget was a primary concern when he started, Turner said. The school has an annual operating budget of about $14 million per year. In 2016, the BRTC Board approved a budget with a $1.7 million deficit, and the deficit spending dropped to a $1.2 million overage in 2017. The 2018 budget has $500,000 in deficit spending, he said. The goal is for the college to be in the black by 2022, he added.
BRTC was fortunate that it had reserve funds to cover the deficits, Turner said. In order to cut budget spending, several changes had to be enacted. Custodial services were outsourced, lawn care services were in sourced, travel by staff was cut and other budget tightening measures were taken.
Turner previously worked in fundraising, academics and accreditation at Williams Baptist University in Walnut Ridge. Turner has a doctorate in higher education administration from Vanderbilt University, a master’s degree in history from Arkansas State University and a bachelor’s degree in history and English from Williams Baptist University.
BRTC was founded as a vocational and technical school in 1972. The school offers 27 certificate programs and 16 associate degree programs. It has 308,000-square-feet of classroom, and other usable, indoor space, and has 23 buildings that sit on 100 acres. The college also operates a satellite campus in Paragould.
One major step the college took was to construct a new nursing and science building. BRTC received a $9.5 million grant from the USDA Office of Rural Development in 2013 to build the 44,000-square-foot nursing and science building. It was opened in 2015 and allowed the college to expand all of its nursing programs, Turner said.