The student population on at the Arkansas State University Campus Queretaro is expected to grow significantly during the coming school year. Dr. David Ray, vice rector of Campus Queretaro, told members of the ASU Board of Trustees on Friday (March 8) the focus remains on student recruitment and retention while commercial development of a community around the campus ramps up. The privately funded campus opened in fall 2017.
The campus has about 350 students enrolled and recruitment for the fall is 150% ahead of the same time a year ago, Ray said. Funding for two more residential halls and completion of a campus library has been approved by the Mexican government.
“What Americans have taken for granted with learning communities is greatly valued in Mexico,” Ray said. “We provide a university education with degrees valid in both the U.S. and Mexico. We have two languages and two cultures all on one campus, which provides a unique experience.”
Felix Vallejo, chief operating officer of the campus, said the city of Queretaro is expanding eastward toward campus. Educational and training agreements have been signed with General Motors, as well as biotech, agriculture and manufacturing plants.
“The campus is becoming a focus point for industry,” Vallejo said. “They need bilingual professionals.”
Development and lot sales for a high-end residential district are underway as the model city grows with commercial and residential development around the campus.
In other business, ASU System President Chuck Welch said work is underway to finalize the addition of College of the Ouachitas to the ASU System, which was approved by the boards of ASU and COTO in February. A change of control application has been filed with the Higher Learning Commission, and he anticipates the merger being final by Jan. 1.
Dr. Steve Rook, president of COTO who will become chancellor of the campus, said he and the campus community “are more excited about this the more we get into it.”
“We are thrilled with this partnership,” Rook added. “Dr. Welch has addressed our local civic groups and visited campus. He has done an excellent job building a bridge between ASU and our campus.”
Welch said most of the major issues with the Arkansas General Assembly have been resolved, including tax cuts and a highway funding plan. He said he was supportive of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s highway plan and noted “it does almost nothing to adversely impact higher education funding. I thought it was the best path moving forward, so I was proud to support it. Very positive resolution for us and good for the entire state.”
Welch also expressed appreciation that, for a second consecutive year, the governor has included productivity funding for higher education.
The board voted to repeal the ASU System Freedom of Expression Policy and begin immediate compliance with a new state law. On Feb. 20, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law Act 184 of 2019, which mandates certain changes be made to all Arkansas higher education free speech policies. This includes allowing speech in all outdoor areas of campus by members of the campus community.
Welch said the law requires changes to be made to current freedom of expression policies on ASU System campuses and other institutions of higher education in Arkansas.
ASU Chancellor Dr. Kelly Damphousse reported to the board that the university went “from zero to 400” articulation agreements with two-year institutions during the past year as the school heightens its focus on transfer students. The university has begun development of a strategic plan that will be developed throughout 2019 and initiated in January, he said.