by David Ramsey
NORTH LITTLE ROCK – Pulaski Technical College is officially a member of the University of Arkansas System effective today and has been renamed University of Arkansas – Pulaski Technical College, or UA – Pulaski Tech.
The Higher Learning Commission, the college’s accrediting body, approved the change of governance effective today, Feb. 1. On Jan. 30, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed Act 71 of 2017 that specifies the role of technical college boards following a merger with a university or system.
The legislation clarifies that boards of trustees of technical colleges become boards of visitors with continued gubernatorial appointment following a merger. The Senate and House both approved the legislation earlier this month.
Both UA System and Pulaski Tech trustees, along with the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board, approved the move last year.
The merger will provide greater articulation of college transfer program options from UA-PTC to other four-year UA System universities. Additionally, there are cost savings through economies of scale for items such as employee health insurance and instructional technology. For the first time, the college will offer - and pay for - short-term disability, following in the footsteps of the University of Arkansas Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
“We have been working with the University of Arkansas System to align all of our policies with theirs, which will streamline processes, and that work will continue into the spring,” said Dr. Margaret Ellibee, chancellor of UA - Pulaski Technical College.
Students also will benefit from greater ease in transferring between institutions.
UA-PTC is the sixth two-year school to join the UA System, with Rich Mountain Community College also finalizing plans to join the state’s largest university system.
“We are very excited to include Pulaski Technical College in the University of Arkansas System. PTC is an institution that has been very successful in offering first-rate educational opportunities to students in the heart of the state’s largest county,” said Donald R. Bobbitt, Ph.D., president of the UA System. “This couldn’t have been accomplished without the hard work and foresight of our Board, Pulaski Tech’s trustees, Governor Hutchinson and the legislature, and the dedicated staff at both institutions that worked tirelessly to make this transition a reality. This merger is an integral part of the UA System’s statewide reach and PTC will help us meet our goal to provide all Arkansans with exceptional educational opportunities to position our state to compete in the economy of the 21st century.”
The merger has been in the works for nearly a year following Bobbitt’s invitation in March 2016 for Pulaski Tech to join the UA System. The PTC Board of Trustees voted unanimously on May 11, 2016, to align with the UA System, and the University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees voted unanimously on May 26, 2016 to accept the college as a member.
“One of the unique advantages of being a two-year college is our ability to develop and offer programs needed to meet academic, technical and the workforce requirements of our local and state economy,” Dr. Ellibee said. “This is our mission, and being a member of the UA system allows us greater options for our students and professional learning and networking options for our faculty and staff. In total, it leads to a more relevant and substantive educational experience for students.”