A partnership between the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope and the second-largest employer in Miller County will lead to a new program to train commercial truck drivers.
UACCH Chancellor Chris Thomason announced the partnership between the college and Southern Refrigerated Transport on Friday during a meeting of the UACCH Board of Visitors.
“We started having meetings a few months ago,” Thomason said. “Mister Freddie Smith is actually the one who initiated the contact.”
Smith who is employed by the state in Texarkana is a member of the Board of Visitors.
Thomason characterized the new program as the kind of partnership which UACCH is seeking to develop itself and through the Southwest Arkansas Consortium of Community Colleges.
The four-week commercial driver's license course will equip students to succeed as commercial trucking drivers who are readily employable by SRT, Thomason explained. The course will be offered in 11 sections over an academic year at the UACCH-Texarkana campus, with practicum at the Four States Fairgrounds in Texarkana.
SRT will provide equipment for the program, and UACCH will hire a program coordinator, two full-time instructors and two part-time instructors to operate the program.
Initial student census figures as of Thursday showed a spring enrollment of 1,187 students, compared with 1,252 students on the same date last year. However, Thomason said the spring headcount at the Texarkana campus on Thursday was 192 students, compared to 175 students on the same date last year.
“We're tracking right along,” he said.
He said, looking forward into 2014, UACCH continues to have a positive impact upon the economy of Hempstead County, with 125 full time employees and 53 part time employees generating an annual employment salary expenditure of about $5.5 million, and student labor expenditures of $100,903.
Student aid at UACCH in 2013 totaled some $4.92 million, with $195,100 in institutional scholarships awarded, and $83,004 in UACCH Foundation scholarships given. Other scholarship aid for 2013 totalled $94,755, with the bulk of student aid at $4.5 million coming from state and federal sources, Thomason said.
BOV Chair Jerry Pruden opened the meeting by recalling the service to UACCH of the late State Senator Jim Hill, of Nashville.
“We lost a very valued member of the board when Senator Hill passed away,” Pruden said. “He was a great friend and valued member of our educational community.”
Hill died of respiratory complications in December.