Partnering for the common good

Arkansas State University-Newport partners with Maverick Transportation to train more commercial drivers. (Photos: ASUN)

It’s no small task. At rural community college Arkansas State University-Newport (ASUN), our mission is to provide an accessible, affordable, quality education that transforms the lives of our students, enriches our communities and strengthens the regional economy.

The key to achieving this mission? Partnerships. By partnering with industry employers, ASUN ensures that what students learn in the classroom has real on-the-job value. By collaborating with other colleges, we multiply resources. The result is the talent pool necessary to fill the demand of the local economy and stimulate its growth.

To address the shortage of healthcare workers, Unity Health/Harris Medical Center is building a 20,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility in Newport for our students. The facility will help train nurses, surgical technicians and emergency medical technicians. Through this program, ASUN will attract, train and graduate more healthcare workers, and Unity Health will provide employment opportunities for students upon graduation.

Nursing students at ASUN practice their bedside skills.

Many licensed practical nurses (LPNs) living in remote areas of the state are simply unable to leave work to complete a registered nursing (RN) program. The solution: offer nearby evening and weekend training. Through the Arkansas Rural Nursing Education Consortium (ARNEC), a team of eight community and technical colleges shares resources to offer classroom training to these students two evenings a week and clinical training every other weekend, enabling LPNs to earn RN credentials without leaving the communities in which they live and work.

Meeting employers’ needs

For employers seeking skilled employees, the Workforce Training Consortium (WTC) offers training programs. ASUN and the WTC partner to enhance both technical and soft-skills training for local employees — training that not only equips our workforce with the skills necessary to meet the needs of the future, but gives the industries we serve a competitive advantage. ASUN hosts the WTC on our campus in the Jonesboro Industrial Park, and in turn, the WTC has sponsored equipment and instruction.

This article is an excerpt from the current issue of AACC’s Community College Journal.

For local entrepreneurs, we offer resources to launch their business and product ideas. ASUN partners with the Arkansas State University Innovation System (A-State Innovate), a comprehensive system of support for building new, innovative businesses. The system is made up of two labs and a manufacturing shop where innovators can generate ideas and develop products. The shop is located on ASUN’s campus in the Jonesboro Industrial Park. By providing product development facilities and services, ASUN, A-State and their many partners in this effort are providing a business start-up engine for Northeast Arkansas.

Meeting students’ needs

For high school students needing workforce-ready credentials, we offer dual-enrollment programs. The ASUN IGNITE Academy enables high school students to earn workforce-ready credentials while simultaneously earning their high school diploma. Upon graduation, students are poised for success in such high-demand industries as information communication technology, certified nursing, phlebotomy, truck service and maintenance, and manufacturing welding. Alternatively, they also are poised for success in the college classroom should they choose to further pursue their education.

ASUN’s partnership with Electrical Cooperatives of Arkansas aims to train more linemen, who are in high demand.

For students looking to fulfill a unique career goal, our industry-specific partnerships get them prepared and employed. Consider ASUN’s partnership with Electrical Cooperatives of Arkansas: ASUN offers a high-voltage lineman technology program; in turn, the Electrical Cooperatives of Arkansas fund student tuition and get much-needed, workforce-ready graduates to fill skilled positions. We also have a similar partnership with Maverick Transportation. ASUN provides commercial driver training, while Maverick fronts the cost of student tuition and leaves with fully-qualified commercial truck drivers.

Read the full article in CC Journal.

About the Author

Sandra Massey
is chancellor of Arkansas State University-Newport.