ASU Three Rivers

The Malvern Lions Club welcomed one of its own, ASU Three Rivers Chancellor Dr. Steve Rook, to the podium at their weekly meeting Tuesday afternoon to present information about the college’s programs, its impact in the community, and the challenges the learning institution faces presently and to come.

ASU Three Rivers has gone through many names and phases since it was opened in 1969 as Ouachita Vocational Technical School. The college now offers over 50 programs offering two-year academic transfer degrees, one or two-year career and technical education, adult education, workforce training, a library that’s open to the community, and concurrent education through their high school career center.

Adult education classes are offered at their facility on East Sullenberger in Malvern, as well as campuses in Arkadelphia and Sheridan. Workforce training is also being offered in several places around the central part of the state.

“We consider our service area a five-county service area. Of course, Hot Spring County is our home base, but then we have Grant, Dallas, Clark, and Saline as our service area counties,” Rook said. “So, that includes Benton, Bryant, Arkadelphia, Fordyce, and Sheridan. And we’re doing workforce training in all those areas.”

Rook pointed out that the campus library is open not only to students, but also to the general public.

“Hopefully we provide as good a service as the county does, as far as the library is concerned,” he said.

The college operates on a $12 million-dollar annual budget, which comprises $4.56 million in state appropriations, $2.76 million in tuition and fees, and about $4.75 million in state and federal grant funding.

“We do a lot with grants,” Rook said. “We couldn’t do what we do without grants.”

The college has 123 full-time and 69 part-time employees on the payroll and paid out $6.26 million in salaries for fiscal year 2022. ASU Three Rivers is consistently one of the largest employers in the county. They would love to increase salaries for all their faculty and staff, but finding the funds is a challenge, outside of raising tuition fees.

“When you hear about state employees receiving raises, in higher education, we don’t get the funding for that,” Rook said. When the Governor gives state employees a raise, he likewise allots money to certain entities like schools and ADC to fund those raises, but he doesn’t make the same allowance for workers in higher education. “In higher education, we have to find it within our current budget.”

The college estimates they put about $439,000 straight back into HSC by way of goods, services and utility expenditures.

“This semester, we’ve had an all-time record enrollment, about 1,835 students,” Rook said. “That includes a big chunk in Saline County, but it also includes about 70 college students.”

Read the full story in Friday's Nov. 18 newspaper edition.

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