Arkansas College Costs Rise Across the Board

Enrollment is up at some colleges and universities in the state and down at others, but when comparing the 2011 and 2012 lists of the largest two- and four-year colleges in Arkansas, it's apparent that students are paying more for an education at virtually every institution.

The largest increase was at Harding University, a private school in Searcy, where tuition rose from $14,610 to $16,830. But despite the jump in cost, enrollment there showed a healthy 4.6 percent increase, which meant 308 additional students.

(Click here for a PDF list of the state's four-year colleges and universities, ranked by fall 2011 enrollment.)

(Click here for a PDF list of the state's two-year colleges, ranked by fall 2011 enrollment.)

(Click here for a PDF list of the state's MBA programs, ranked by fall 2011 enrollment.)

Smaller schools such as Central Baptist College in Conway, John Brown University in Siloam Springs and Southern Arkansas University Tech in Camden all saw robust increases of more than 15 percent in enrollment. But the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, the state's largest university with more than 10,000 more students than the next largest school, also had a strong 8.4 percent swing in  enrollment. It added 1,794 students to its rolls compared with the previous year.

Two- and four-year colleges and universities about evenly shared the number of schools that grew more than 5 percent, but two-year colleges took a hit when it came to the number of them, nine out of the 22, that experienced enrollment declines of more than 5 percent.

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, whose chancellor, Lawrence A. Davis, resigned on May 25, experienced a 7 percent drop in enrollment. The decrease amounts to 240 fewer students and up to $1.25 million in lost tuition.

Davis' resignation came amid controversy that includes an investigation by the Arkansas State Police that prompted Davis to fire four employees and a UA audit that found that more than $700,000 in payroll and spending had been misappropriated at UAPB's Harrold Complex.

There were a variety of other leadership changes at Arkansas universities and colleges evident on the list as well. Tim Hudson became chancellor at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, after Gordon Daniel Howard had served as interim chancellor for almost two years following several position changes within the ASU system due to the resignation of J. Leslie Wyatt, former ASU system president.

Just before moving to ASU, Hudson was vice chancellor at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, and had also been an applicant for the position of president at Henderson State University in the 2010-11 academic year, a position that Glen Jones will fill beginning July 1.

In taking the position at HSU, Jones leaves ASU as interim executive vice chancellor and provost and takes the place of Bobby Jones, who had been acting as interim president since June 2011 when Charles Welch left HSU to become ASU system president.

Philander Smith College in Little Rock and UAPB also have new names in the president or chancellor column, but the men are not new to the campuses as both are graduates of the schools they now lead. Calvin Johnson, 71, is serving as interim chancellor at UAPB, where he was previously the dean of the School of Education. And Johnny Moore, a 1989 graduate of Philander, will take over as president of the historically African-American college July 1. Prior to returning to his alma mater, Moore was vice president of student affairs at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas. He follows the departure of Walter M. Kimbrough, who resigned the presidency after seven years to move into the same position at Dillard University in New Orleans.

Several retirements will cause additional changes in leadership. Rick D. Niece, president of the University of the Ozarks, and Rebecca H. Paneitz, president of Northwest Arkansas Community College, both have plans to retire in 2013. And beginning Aug. 1, Robin Myers, president of Arkansas Northeastern College, will replace William "Ed" Coulter, who is retiring from Arkansas State University at Mountain Home. June Walters will fill the vacant position left by Myers at ANC. Before the ANC board's decision Thursday to name Walters interim president, she was serving as executive vice president.

Today's THVideo

In the video below, Arkansas Business Publisher Jeff Hankins talks about the turnover at Arkansas' higher learning institutions and talks about the challenges of keeping education costs low.