The development of the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope campus in Texarkana has put UACCH on the cusp of a regional potential that has yet to be tapped.

The development of the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope campus in Texarkana has put UACCH on the cusp of a regional potential that has yet to be tapped.

UACCH Chancellor Chris Thomason said the construction of the second campus building in the two years in which the campus has been open represents a direct commitment by the Texarkana, Arkansas, community to a partnership that has much larger potential.

“This building, and what it allows us to do for students in business and industry, is a huge step forward for a campus in Texarkana that has been making huge steps since it first opened,” he said.

Thomason directly credits the aid of State Senator Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana, with helping to forge that partnership.

“We would not have been able to make this facility possible, if not for the dedicated leadership of Senator Hickey,” he said. “His leadership in the last legislative session was the key component to making this building a reality in the very near future.”

Taking the next step to what Thomason calls the “second level” of service to the Texarkana area is an exciting prospect, he said.

“One of the things I look forward to personally is simply taking in the view from the third floor,” Thomason said. “To watch the interstate move on one side; to see the wonderful lake view on the Four States Fairgrounds; and, to catch the view of airplanes taking off from the regional airport there; education is a lot about the environment that you learn in, and to see and feel that movement and progress that is present in Texarkana and Miller County, Arkansas, on that third floor, surrounded by a learning environment seems a little magical to me.”

Recognizing that UACCH is not the only higher education presence in the bi-state community of Texarkana, Thomason said it can only help to provide an alternative within the Arkansas context.

“We work very closely with Texarkana College, and President Russell, and we will always work very closely in an attempt to integrate our services to the entire region; they are a wonderful partner to have,” he said. “But, as President Russell has said in the past, competition does make all of us better. I think he was quoted as saying that when we originally announced our plans there.

“I think we have helped one another elevate our service to the region,” Thomason said.

The unique bi-state nature of Texarkana is also the center of a robust regional economy, he pointed out.

“And, there have always been questions about whether there is a need for one asset or two assets, and whether one asset is serving one state or the other,” Thomason said. “UACCH-Texarkana is there with the intent to serve students first; secondly, we want to promote a greater economic prosperity for all business and industry, whether they are on the Arkansas side or the Texas side.”

Improving the regional workforce as a quality of life indicator for the region is already part of the mix, he said.

“We know that industry hires residents from both Arkansas and Texas; and, we certainly know they hire some of our highly-qualified, highly-skilled graduates,” Thomason said. “We support all of that.”

But, Thomason said he has a mandate that must be met, as well.

“The Arkansas Department of Higher Education does state that my institution, from a higher education perspective, has a primary service area including Miller County, Hempstead County and Nevada County,” he said. “So, I have an obligation to serve Miller County; but, we have a commitment from this campus as well, to serve those students, and we do recognize our special mission to serve Miller County, and we will continue to try to do that to the best of our ability.”

That is the key to the development of UACCH-Texakana, Thomason notes.

“There is the master plan for why UACCH-Texarkana exists, because we have, for the modern portion of the history of this institution, endeavored to serve Texarkana and Miller County, Arkansas, specifically,” he said. “It's part of our mission and our policy obligation.

“What we determined was that we could not fulfill that policy obligation or mission without having a campus there,” Thomason said.

Next: The next step