Board of Trustees makes decision on med school

By Lindsey Blakely
On March 3, 2014

An osteopathic medical school is finally on the horizon for Arkansas State University after approval from the Board of Trustees Friday.

According to a recently released study, an osteopathic medical school would help meet the demand for primary care physicians in the Delta and have an initial economic impact of about $70 million in the northeastern part of the state.

The feasibility study was conducted by Tripp Umbach, a nationally recognized health care and economic development consulting firm based in Pittsburgh.

ASU will partner with the New York Institution of Technology for the development of Arkansas’ first osteopathic medical school, according to the Board of Trustees resolution 14-06.

NYIT currently operates a college of osteopathic medicine and ASUJ will enter into a formal agreement with NYIT for the establishment of a branch campus of the College of Osteopathic Medicine with the first class of students anticipated to enroll in August 2016.

“The Delta region is one of the most (medically) under-served regions in the United States,” ASU President Charles Welch said.

According to Welch, the school boasts of being the second largest osteopathic medical school in the U.S., with its dean being the first African American female to be the dean of a medical school.

The next stage in getting ASU a medical school awaits the approval of the NYIT Board of Trustees two weeks from now. Then, the school will look to receive national accreditation.

“I can’t say enough good things about the impact this will have on students, the economy and the region,” Welch said.

Board member Dan Pierce agreed with Welch on his support.

“This is a game changer,” Pierce said. “This will move us to a new neighborhood. This is historic.”

In other business, the Board approved a proposal to revise the existing policy governing travel expense reimbursement, in an effort to focus on cost containment.

According to Welch, the proposal is aimed at keeping travel expenses well-documented, so that only authorized amounts are paid in an effort for the university to be more transparent when spending tax and tuition dollars.

In another resolution, the Board approved a measure to increase room and board dates for ASU Jonesboro and ASU Beebe in order to meet additional costs needed to provide a quality student housing and maintain or improve existing facilities.

The largest additions will go to Collegiate Park and Red Wolf Den, each adding $105 per semester to students’ bill. The current rates per semester range from $2,180 - $2,450. The new rates, beginning fall 2014, will range from $2,285 - $2,585.

Unlimited meal plans were also included in the increase, with each plan increasing by $50 per semester, except for the 7Day + $300, which will increase by $40. There will also be a new meal plan included, which will allow 100 meals and $600 in flex.

The Board also approved many academic changes including a establishing bachelor’s degree in general studies. ASU will also now offer minors in Financial Wealth Management, Spatial Technologies and Geographic Information Systems. In the Bachelor of Arts in Theatre degree, the board approved emphasis areas in directing and acting.

Finally, the board also approved a new emphasis in Hospitality Management in the Bachelor of Science in Management degree.

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