The administration, staff, faculty and student leadership at the Ozark campus of Arkansas Tech University are focused on continuing a strategic plan began in fall 2008 that has helped push more than $4.7 million in campus improvements.
About 80 full-time faculty and staff at ATU-Ozark, the Chancellor's Leadership Cabinet, the Student Government Association, and the National Technical Honors Society have teamed up to keep the plan updated and moving forward.
“We have periodic deadlines for work groups to report out at least twice per semester, and we meet as an entire campus at least once per semester to discuss overall progress toward goals,” noted a statement from officials with the Franklin County extension of Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.
Although ATU-Ozark is a part of ATU, funds for the strategic planning efforts the Ozark campus come from fees and funds generated in Ozark.
“During the budgeting process that begins each year in January, the faculty and staff members create budgets that link explicitly to our learning goals, skill attainment, facility and equipment needs to create and prioritize their budget requests,” according to the statement.
The broad goals of the ongoing planning process are:
• Deliver high quality educational programs with appropriate facilities and equipment;
• Develop and implement an enrollment management plan (recruitment, retention, graduation, placement and alumni relations);
• Enhance external relations including development of private funding; and,
Improve internal and external communication.
Progress on the goals include:
• The planned and managed growth of academic and technical programs, including the successful addition and accreditation of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program and the Viticulture and Enology program;
• The addition of an office of Public Safety to ensure campus security.
• The completion of the student services and conference center and the planned renovation of the Alvin Vest Student Union, both projects which enhance student life and retention on the Ozark Campus;
• A revitalized Business and Industry program that provides area businesses with employee training and retention opportunities; and,
• A continued focus on community engagement and involvement, which is highlighted in the Ozark Campus’s recent selection as the recipient of a “Sustainable Communities’ Grant” from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
The new student services and conference center was a $2.7 million addition to the campus, and the Vest Student Union renovations are budgeted at $1.7 million. The planning and additions of programs and facilities are also driven by a growth in enrollment. Spring enrollment at the Ozark campus reached 1,213, an impressive increase of 53.3% compared to spring 2009 — and the spring 2008 enrollment of 791 was up 18% over the spring 2007 number.
“Our collaborative planning process ensures benefits for our students and the communities we serve. We focus on our mission, but these Strategic Planning goals provide us with direction,” ATU-Ozark Chancellor Jo Blondin said in the statement. “We are, first and foremost, a learning institution, and strategic planning helps us learn from our stakeholders, and, in doing so, make the very best use of our resources. The purpose of the process is to ensure an excellent return for the students and communities we serve, and this return should translate into employability in our service area.”