The Saline Courier reports that members of the UA Little Rock advisory board for the Benton campus believe the campus will close in June.
Board Chair Wade Partridge said the action required final approval from the UA Board of Trustees and wouldn’t be officially confirmed until then. He expressed some unhappiness Benton had been kept in the dark about the decision, which apparently has been widely rumored.
UA Little Rock is making a number of budget cuts to cope with a budget deficit brought worsened by declining enrollment.
The Courier got a prepared statement in response from Provost Ann Bain:
Over the past year, UA Little Rock has undergone a comprehensive review of institutional effectiveness of all of our academic and non-academic programs,” Bain said. “We are currently actively involved in academic planning that includes interfacing with key groups to obtain current information on the educational needs of our community partners.
“One of our largest and essential partners is Saline County, the second highest county we serve in student population. We have been evaluating our service to Benton and the rest of the county closely, looking at ways we can best serve students and the business community. Over the last several years, the UA Little Rock Benton Center has had a significant increase in enrollment in online courses and a corresponding decline in enrollment in face-to-face courses. At the same time, Saline County student enrollment at UA Little Rock has remained steady. We are working closely with school districts in Saline County and are very pleased that our applications for fall 2020 are up significantly.
“We continue to evaluate what measures we should take for the Benton Center and hope to make some decisions soon. We will do this in collaboration with the UA Little Rock Benton Advisory Board and the Benton Mayor’s Office as we determine the most effective way to serve Benton and Saline County.
“We remain engaged and invested in Saline County as evidenced by a growing enrollment, as well as our commitment to dedicate a student recruiter exclusively to the county.”
University and city officials met this week. Partridge reported the university isn’t interested in retaining the land and building it’s been using and other uses are being considered.