Henderson State Approves Merger with ASU System

Henderson State Approves Merger with ASU System
(Henderson State University)

The Henderson State University Board of Trustees approved a merger agreement and transition plan with the Arkansas State University System on Thursday.

The agreement is subject to the approval of ASU’s Board of Trustees and the Higher Learning Commission, as well as action by the Arkansas General Assembly. 

ASU System President Chuck Welch said in a news release that the ASU board will be asked to approve the agreement at its regular meeting on Dec. 6 in Little Rock. The target for completing the transition would be Jan. 1, 2021.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Henderson’s interim president would report through Welch to the Henderson board as part of an interim management process. 

Welch would also chair the search committee for a new Henderson president, who would become chancellor of the institution following the merger.

In addition, Moody’s Investor Services has issued a report that determined Henderson’s decision to join the ASU system is “credit positive” for Henderson because of increased oversight expected from being part of the system. The university had been working through financial turmoil recently.

The merger agreement includes the:

  • Expansion of ASU board membership from five trustees to seven, with the two new appointees by Gov. Asa Hutchinson having “specific familiarity with Henderson State.”

  • Creation of a Henderson Board of Visitors to be appointed by the governor. That board would have an advisory function and serve as a liaison to the ASU president and board.

  • ASU System’s right to retain a third party to review Henderson’s operations and financial standing. The system has issued a request for proposals for third-party audit services.

  • Provision that the system provide ongoing management compensation that is consistent with the current Henderson MOU and the formula used by other ASU System institutions.

The Henderson board approved a resolution to join the ASU system on Oct. 24. It also voted to retain the university’s name and mascot. 

Also, on July 29, Henderson signed a memorandum of understanding for the ASU System to provide various operations support services.