LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The future of Henderson State University has been in the balance for months with massive budget cuts and layoffs following financial trouble for the school.
But Thursday morning, in a joint press conference, Governor Asa Hutchinson made it clear he believes Henderson can still make the grade, sharing his “confidence” in the future of the university.
It’s a complicated form of arithmetic: a university in the red plus decreased enrollment equals an uncertain future. But now, university and state leaders believe it’s a problem they can solve.
After months of financial woes, Henderson State University is looking to evolve. Together with other ASU systems partners, they’re paving a new path for students; focused on individualized plans to meet learners where they’re at.
At the conference, Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key said, “we have the opportunity to partner with Henderson State University in re-imagining what education can look like in the future.” Chancellor Chuck Ambrose added the re-branding will focus on workforce development, catering to non-traditional students wanting a new kind of learning.
“80% of American college students are not traditional coming out of high school, living in resident halls, completing college in four years,” Ambrose explained. “We’ve got the ingredients, we can do it different and if our focus is on our students, the outcomes will be better.”
It’s a change the university hopes will save the ship, and a focus on students that Ambrose hopes will become Henderson’s brand. With the added support of the state, Henderson is looking toward a successful future that will also be sustainable.
As for those currently enrolled, Ambrose said this “re-imagining” will take time and current students have already been adapting to the change. In the end, he said they’ll have more opportunities in the future, not less.