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EACC Board votes to discuss membership with UA System

EACC's Board of Trustees voted to discuss becoming a member of the University of Arkansas System at its regular quarterly meeting on Thursday.

The board requested that Chairman Brent Howton and President Dr. Cathie Cline discuss an affiliation agreement with the system. They will present any proposed agreement to the Board for its review and approval. The Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas would also need to approve an agreement. If approved by both boards, an agreement would initiate the process of EACC becoming a member college of the UA System.

"We need to be open to evolution and change," Howton said. "Membership within a system could be a partnership that allows us to maintain our local mission and serve our constituents, while also providing support and resources to the College now and in the coming decades as higher education continues to change and adapt."

In its motion to explore system membership, the Board indicated the goal is to ensure that EACC continues to be a future-focused institution providing the highest quality educational and cultural programming and to enable the institution to offer expanded opportunities for student and employee professional and educational growth.

"Since 2018, EACC's motto has been 'Stronger Together,'" said Cathie Cline, Ed.D., EACC president. "We hope to be able to extend this ideal through a strategic partnership with the University of Arkansas System. As I begin my 7th year of leadership at EACC, I am even more firm in my belief that in education, we truly are stronger together."

If both the UA System and EACC boards approve measures for the institution to become a member of the UA System, the College does not expect its leadership, faculty, staff, educational programs, or cultural enrichment programs to change. The College would continue to manage its own budget and personnel.

"I am thankful to the UA System for the good relationship that we already have," Cline said.  "Becoming a member of the system would be an opportunity for EACC to grow once again. With the support of the UA System, we are confident we would continue to lead the region in high-quality education and training. I am unfailingly positive about the potential of our future as a member college."

According to Cline, the benefits of system membership include legal, human resources, fiscal and audit support; inclusion in UA System and statewide initiatives; statewide policy and resource advocacy; and access to additional resources for employees and students that are unique to the state's largest higher education system through partnerships with an array of institutions across the state.

"Our board members have been unwavering in their support of faculty, staff, and students," Cline said. "They have the courage and foresight to look, not just one year or two years down the road, but to think carefully about EACC's long-term future."

The UA System has 20 campuses, divisions and units with more than 70,000 students and 30,000 employees, while managing a total budget of over $4 billion. In addition to the state's 1871 flagship, land-grant research university in Fayetteville, the UA System also includes seven two-year institutions across the state, five four-year universities, a 100 percent-online institution, the state's only academic health sciences university, two schools of law, a presidential school, and one of the nation's top residential math and science high schools. The UA System also has divisions of agriculture, archeology and criminal justice, along with the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Institute.  

If an agreement is reached to initiate EACC membership in the UA System, administrators would provide direction to the overall planning and implementation effort, and the process would involve faculty and staff from the campus and the system.  Becoming a member of a system is a multi-step process, which must ultimately receive final approval from the Higher Learning Commission.

East Arkansas Community College

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