Academic programs, enrollment, and athletics all seeing upward trends
[July 13, 2020 | MENA, Ark.]  UA Rich Mountain Chancellor Dr. Phillip Wilson has announced that the college will welcome students back to campus for in-person classes this Fall.  “We have plans to be open and stand ready to assist our students in navigating their educational goals during these challenging times.”
Like most colleges, UARM closed its campuses quickly and transitioned to online or remote instruction methods during March as the coronavirus emerged as a global pandemic. Wilson said that as of July 6, the campus has re-opened by appointment and all visitors are required to wear facemasks. Admissions and financial aid staff are available by phone, email, or appointment. “It is not too late to get registered for Fall classes.  If current social and economic times have caused students and their families to reconsider college plans for a semester or two, know that it is not too late to join our traditions at UARM. Our admissions and financial aid staff can assist you every step of the way,” added Wilson.
UARM will offer both online and in-person classes. A Coronavirus Task Force was established early to develop health and safety protocols for the protection of the Rich Mountain community.  Classes will meet in-person up to Thanksgiving break and then transition to online/remote instruction. Finals will be on-line beginning December 7. 
Chad Fielding, Vice-Chancellor of Housing & Student Affairs said that to date, the virus has not affected enrollment negatively, citing the college’s enrollment numbers are slightly up over this same time last year. “We’re seeing a trend of students who had planned to attend larger universities in larger areas now choosing to stay closer to home, at least for a semester or two. Many will be able to take advantage of the Arkansas Transfer Achievement Scholarship and later transfer to Fayetteville but continue paying Rich Mountain tuition rates.”
However, local students don’t account for all of the college’s numbers, Fielding said that just over 90% of the new on-campus student resident halls are reserved. “We fully anticipate to fill every room and still have some students on a wait list if a room becomes available.”
The college did have to make the difficult decision to suspend its 60+ program due to an abundance of caution to protect the most vulnerable segment of its population. While this may affect overall ‘headcount’, Fielding explained its overall ‘student semester credit hours (SSCH)’ that measures growth in higher education. With the expansion of the athletics department by adding baseball and softball to the mix, which recruits full-time students to the campus, Fielding is confident the college’s SSCH will see a modest increase as well. 
UARM recently ranked first among its peers within Arkansas for student outcomes. “This is a testament to both our students’ perseverance but also our faculty and staff who are committed to supporting these students in meeting their educational goals,” said Wilson. 
UARM is also experiencing a growth in educational programs, adding an aesthetician program to the UA Rich Mountain School of Cosmetology. A licensed aesthetician can provide cosmetic skin care treatments and services such as facials, hair removal, and apply make-up. Classes begin Fall 2020. 
“We are keenly aware what challenging times we are currently living in,” said Wilson. “To have parents and students entrust us during these times is something we take very seriously… very seriously. UA Rich Mountain has been a long-standing cornerstone to its communities during difficult times and to see that expanding well beyond Polk, Scott, and Montgomery counties is proof that our commitment to our students’ success is our greatest differentiator.” 
7-14-20 9:13 AM KAWX.ORG 

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