The University of Arkansas System announced Monday (March 17) that its Board of Trustees would meet Thursday (March 20) and Friday (March 21) at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, with votes to continue the system's ban of firearms and approval of new degree programs on the agenda.
The continued ban handguns on campus comes after the Arkansas General Assembly approved Act 226 in 2013, which "provides that a person licensed to carry a concealed handgun may do so at a public university, college or community college is such person is a staff member of the public institution," according to a memo written by UA System President Donald Bobbitt to the Board. He said the only way around the law was if the Board approved a resolution that expressly forbade such action.
While the UA System previously voted to ban handguns on campus in Spring 2013, Bobbitt said such prohibitions must be approved by the Board every year, which is why the issue is coming back for another vote less than a year after the first vote.
"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.
A number of new degree offerings will also be voted on during the two days of meetings.
Among the new offerings are 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 main UA campus in Fayetteville had several new programs on the agenda. Among them, a new online graduate certificate in writing and public rhetorics as well as a minor in non-profit studies for business majors at the Walton College of Business. According to Bobbitt, the new Walton College minor creates a workforce specifically educated for work in the non-profit industry.
"Conservative estimates place non-profits as employing above 10 percent of the current workforce," he wrote. "Although many students will go to work in the for-profit realm, they will still be on boards and participate in other civic organizations."
Another request being made by the administration of the UA campus in Fayetteville is for an online offering of the bachelor of science in business administration, with a general business major, which Bobbitt said would allow "the Walton College to capture new markets (e.g., students abroad, degree completion, and adult learners)."
While students completing the on-campus version of the program would be allowed to complete their studies, Bobbitt did note that only online students majoring in general business would be admitted, starting in the Fall semester.
The final proposal for a new degree program will be the new retail major within the bachelor of science in international business, which Bobbitt said has been offered outside of the BSIB degree since 2011.
"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.
The Board meeting to be held later in the week is the first to be held at UAFS since 2010, according to UAFS Director of Public Relations Sondra LaMar.
Dr. Paul Beran, chancellor of UAFS, said he was eager to host the multi-day meeting, which will start at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Reynolds Room of the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center.
“UAFS is pleased to host the UA Board on campus to show how we have embraced our role as an emerging, high performing comprehensive regional university dedicated to serving our mission of ‘educating students for an ever-changing global world while advancing economic development and quality of place.’"