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Arkansas State University–Mountain Home (ASUMH) is a two-year community college serving predominately the residents of Baxter and Marion counties, as well as neighboring counties in Missouri. ASUMH continues the long tradition of education in Mountain Home dating back to the Male and Female Academy of the 1850s.
The origins of ASUMH can be traced back to several evening classes offered by North Arkansas Community College (NACC)—now North Arkansas College—at the Mountain Home (Baxter County) high school in 1974. These classes were offered in the wake of the defeat of a five-mill tax for the construction of a community college in Mountain Home in 1973. By 1976, NACC expanded the classes to include an Adult Basic Education program. As enrollment grew, permanent facilities were needed. With funds provided by the state and local community, the former First Baptist Church and adjoining McClure Chapel and Funeral home were purchased in 1985. In the same year, the Baxter County Vocational-Technical Center was established as a satellite campus of NACC. The center later became the basis for the Mountain Home Technical College, founded as one of thirteen technical colleges created by the Arkansas General Assembly on July 1, 1991.
Funding was always short because NACC was concerned with competition and losing students to the technical college. As a result, the college cut its ties with NACC and sought affiliation with Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County). On July 1, 1993, the college officially became the Arkansas State University–Mountain Home Technical College. A special election was held on October 19, 1993, to establish a taxing district for the college. The two-mill property tax was passed with overwhelming support. Arkansas State University–Mountain Home was established on July 1, 1995, and Ed Coulter was hired as chancellor.
The main question confronting the college was whether to remain in downtown Mountain Home or move to a different location. Although the interiors of the college buildings had been thoroughly renovated, the exteriors were unchanged; these buildings included a church, a feed store, and a funeral home. Due to congestion, a lack of parking, and the difficulty of expansion, the decision was made to relocate the college.
The search for a new location ended in 1996 with the purchase of seventy-eight acres of pastureland on the edge of Mountain Home. This initial purchase was supplemented with adjoining property, and today’s campus sits on 135 contiguous acres. An official groundbreaking ceremony was held on April 8, 1998. Before construction began, a special committee composed of community leaders, faculty, and students was formed to consider plans for the new campus. The committee visited about a dozen universities in the East, incorporating elements they liked into the campus master plan. The architectural design of the campus is modeled after the University of Virginia, with the administration building, Roller Hall, taking its inspiration from the Rotunda.
On January 11, 2000, more than 1,000 area residents and students joined ASUMH faculty, staff, and administration officials in a symbolic march from the old to the new campus. The three academic buildings (Dryer, McClain, and First National) were officially opened for classes on January 12. The dedication was held on April 25, 2000, with Governor Mike Huckabee delivering the keynote address. Because of the remarkable support of the local community, the four campus buildings were fully endowed before construction began.
ASUMH offers a number of degree programs, including the Associate of Arts, Associate of Arts in Teaching, and the Associate of Applied Science. Academically, ASUMH is distinguished by the Fran Coulter Honors Program and its nationally recognized funeral science program. In 1999, the Center for Advanced Studies was established to coordinate degree programs with ASU–Jonesboro. The center offers five bachelor’s degrees and two master’s degrees while allowing students to remain in Mountain Home. ASUMH earned accreditation, previously received through Jonesboro, on its own in 2003 through the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Enrollment in 2009 hit an all-time high of more than 1,500 students. In 2016, there were approximately 1,500 students attending.
The campus continues to expand, with the Health Sciences Building opening in 2008. Construction is also under way on the Vada Sheid Community Development Center. Once completed, the 65,000-square-foot center will be the cultural showcase of Baxter County and the surrounding Twin Lakes region. Designed to combine educational opportunities with cultural pursuits, the facility will include a banquet hall for 500, convention space, a 1,600-seat auditorium, the Dale Bumpers Great Hall for displays of fine art, and an outdoor amphitheatre.
In June 2012, Arkansas State University System president Charles Welch announced that Robin Myers had been selected to be the second chancellor of ASUMH.
For additional information:Arkansas State University–Mountain Home. http://www.asumh.edu/ (accessed December 2, 2009).
Fran Coulter Honors Program. “Oral History Project of ASUMH.” Norma Wood Library. Arkansas State University–Mountain Home, Mountain Home, Arkansas.
Clement Mulloy Arkansas State University–Mountain Home
Last Updated 6/10/2016
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