A-State Board Considers Weapons Policy

by Keith Turner
Delta Digital News Service

JONESBORO — The Arkansas State University System board of trustees considered an updated weapons policy, helping transfer students and disaster preparation during its first fall meeting.

ASU System President Chuck Welch described the new weapons policy as a “reaction” to a bill passed by Arkansas legislature. The bill allows, to a degree, concealed carry on college campuses.

Welch said the Arkansas State Police have not yet completed its enhanced training program, meaning no one can legally carry a handgun on campus yet.

“We anticipate that it will be sometime in 2018 – January, February, March – sometime in that time frame before an individual will be able to legally carry a weapon on our campuses,” Welch said.

Helping Transfers

Welch and A-State Chancellor Kelly Damphousse announced a study of transfer students beginning in October or November. The goal of the study is to analyze the relationship between ASU campuses and students who transfer or wish to transfer from two-year schools.

“We have a large number of students in community colleges in the state of Arkansas. Unfortunately, we don’t have a large percentage transferring to a university,” Welch said.

Damphousse said he is passionate about transfer students.

“The next step is to make sure we get more transfer students from our sister schools to come here,” Damphousse said.

Disaster Preparedness

The board approved long-term lease agreements for ASU disaster preparedness training facilities in Walnut Ridge and Imboden. The school will seek grants and private funding for the project, which will train participants to respond to a variety of natural disasters. Fewer than 10 similar facilities exist nationwide.

Representatives of ASU and the cities of Walnut Ridge and Imboden signed 50-year leases for the facilities the following week.

In Walnut Ridge, ASU will pay $12,500 a year to rent 100 acres of land, with a 3 percent increase every five years. Walnut Ridge will pay the rent on behalf of ASU for the first two years. The Walnut Ridge site will have training zones specific to certain disasters, such as tornadoes and floods.

ASU will pay $10,000 a year to rent 183 acres in Imboden. The Imboden site will allow for “wilderness scenarios.”

Susan Hanrahan, dean of ASU-Jonesboro’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, assisted in the push for the training facilities.

“With the opportunity to have land in two different spaces, we can start working on getting funding to help build those things and bring people to our region for that type of education,” Hanrahan said.

Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp told the Jonesboro Sun this “might be the biggest economic boom” in the history of his city and Lawrence County.

System Review

Welch announced plans to hire a firm for reviewing the ASU System and campuses. The review will analyze staffing, programming and resources to determine the overall efficiency of the office.

The review should take around 12 weeks, but it could be up to six months before the results are known.

Other items considered included:

  • Celebrating the anniversaries of two ASU System campuses: ASU Beebe, now in its 90th year, and ASU Mid-South, now in its 25th year.
  • Accepting a resolution to rename the ASU-Newport criminal justice department in honor of the late Lt. Patrick Weatherford, who was killed in the line of duty in June. Weatherford worked for the Newport Police Department, and was a graduate of ASU-Newport and ASU-Jonesboro. His wife, Kristen, attended the meeting.
  • Approving restructuring amendments to the faculty handbook.
  • Approving new policies on internal controls and investments.
  • Approving a resolution to change the name of the lounge area on the third floor of the Reng Student Union to the Vaughn Student Lounge.
  • Approving a request by ASU-Newport to offer additional automotive-mechanical certificates (automotive mechanical systems, automotive transmissions and axles, engine performance, and heating and air conditioning).
  • The efficiency of the employee health care plan.

(Board of Trustees photo courtesy of A-State Media Relations)