To the chagrin of some faculty members — who are frequently critical of the administration, it should be said — Arkansas State University will close its Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) at the end of June, saying that the number of students served by the center has declined sharply, and ASU can no longer justify subsidizing the center.
William Rowe, president of the Faculty Senate, said in a statement, “I and many of my colleagues find this closing very disturbing. The CESL has been a great resource for many of our international students.”
Rick McDaniel, senior associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, said that CESL began operation some years ago to help international students gain sufficient proficiency in English so that they could succeed in American colleges. Although ASU provided space, the students and/or their countries paid the cost of the program. ASU’s principal benefit was that some of the students would enroll at ASU after completing their CESL instruction.
In recent years, the number of international students has dropped because of economic conditions, particularly the decline in value of Asian currencies, McDaniel said. ASU had to begin subsidizing the program with taxpayers’ dollars in order to keep the CESL open, he said. This year’s subsidy is about $60,000. CESL has only 12 students, and 10 of them will leave Jonesboro as soon as their CESL instruction is complete, leaving only two who might become ASU students, he said.