HOT SPRINGS — The National Park College (NPC) Board of Trustees celebrated the start to the College’s 50th anniversary year during the regular monthly meeting Wednesday.
Vice President for External Affairs and Chief of Staff, Darla Thurber shared NPC’s 50th anniversary will commemorate 50 years of changing lives. She introduced a video of NPC stakeholders sharing thoughts about what sets NPC apart.
“We want to capture the rich history and beautiful stories from the lives that have been impacted by this College over the past 50 years,” said Thurber. The External Affairs team plans to create a digital time capsule throughout the year that will include videos archived on the NPC YouTube account. Alumni, retirees and community members are encouraged to submit suggested stories for consideration at np.edu/50.
NPC President, Dr. John Hogan shared remarks on the state of the College. He described NPC as “one-of-a-kind,” noting the College has worked hard to adapt the mission to meet the needs of Garland County. “We are a community college first and foremost, so we drive toward fulfilling that mission comprehensively. Part of that equation is to ensure that the students’ voices are heard. What they expect from NPC reshapes the antiquated traditions of what a community college has been. In 2023, I want to focus forward on the exciting opportunities ahead.”
Hogan applauded the academic diversity of the faculty, teaching disciplines that range from early literacy to premedical studies. “The responsibilities of our faculty in the face of this academic diversity is enormous and continues to grow in terms of importance, magnitude and difficulty. To this end, you can expect NPC’s 50th year to continue to augment our entrepreneurial approach to expanding academic and workforce disciplines. We must build on our strengths of innovation and partnering.”
Four-year degrees remain a top priority for the College. Southern Arkansas University will have its first local graduates in biology, chemistry, and computer science in May. The College also hopes to announce new bachelor’s degrees in the coming year. “Our goal is to offer bachelor’s degrees in business, education, criminal justice, nursing, and perhaps others as we continue our philosophy and practice of being an open campus to potential partners who invest in our students’ dreams,” said Hogan.
Expanded apprenticeship programs, internships, online degrees and new opportunities for secondary high school programs are also a consideration.
For the past four years, the number of out-of-county and out-of-state students has grown. This academic year, NPC’s international population grew to 11. Hogan explained that serving students outside of Garland county has become a significant part of NPC’s mission. “International students pay their way and add invaluable diversity to our learning environment. International and out-of-district students are more likely to relocate and work in Hot Springs while studying and after they graduate. We hope to continue these initiatives as a magnet to our community.”
“As we all reflect on what NPC has meant to this community, consider that the best is in NPC’s future. More importantly, the best is ahead for our students,” added Hogan.
Trustee Joyce Craft was elected Board Chair during the Board of Trustees’ annual meeting preceding the regular meeting. Craft said, “I am just thrilled to be celebrating this 50th year of changing lives at NPC. The growth I have witnessed has been extraordinary. While I am looking forward to reminiscing about the College’s great history throughout this milestone year, I am even more excited to continue the momentum we have created together to help our students be even more successful. When our students succeed, we all succeed.”
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