Arkansas State University Mid-South
aka: Mid-South Community College
Arkansas State University Mid-South (ASU Mid-South), formerly Mid-South Community College (MSCC), is a two-year public institution located in West Memphis (Crittenden County) and serving Crittenden County and the surrounding area. It is part of the Arkansas State University System. ASU Mid-South focuses upon developing the workforce necessary to attract new business and industry to the east Arkansas Delta area. ASU Mid-South offers a variety of programs including an associate of arts degree in general education, an associate of arts in teaching, an associate of applied science in business technology, an associate of applied science in information system technology, and an associate of applied sciences in aviation maintenance technology.
In late 1978, at the request of state representative Lloyd McCuiston and state senator W. K. (Bill) Ingram, a delegation of local legislators and citizens organized to plan for the development of a vocational-technical school in Crittenden County. The following year, the Arkansas legislature approved the establishment of Mid-South Vocational Technical School (MSVTS), and the institution selected a thirty-acre tract of land on U.S. Highway 70 for the construction of the facility. On October 30, 1980, ground was broken for the new school.
MSVTS opened on March 2, 1982, with two buildings housing nine classrooms. The school offered eleven-month courses in the areas of accounting, secretarial work, clerk/typing skills, licensed practical nursing, welding, and diesel truck mechanics, as well as an eight-week course in truck driving. MSVTS served fewer than 100 students annually and was primarily known throughout the county as a center for GED testing, truck driver training, and a site of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s higher education courses.
MSVTS operated for about ten years before more legislation, again co-sponsored by McCuiston, allowed it to upgrade to a technical college. In 1991, the Arkansas legislature passed Act 1244, known as the “Two-Year Postsecondary Education Reorganization Act,” which focused on converting the state’s vocational-technical schools into technical colleges or branches of four-year institutions. Lawmakers selected MSVTS for conversion, and upon transfer from the State Board of Education to the State Board of Higher Education on July 1, 1991, the institution became Mid-South Technical College (MSTC).
In April 1992, the board of trustees hired Dr. Glen Fenter as the college’s first chief executive officer. Later that year, the board and college administration determined that the future viability of the institution would hinge upon conversion to a community college. The conversion application received approval from the State Board of Higher Education on October 23, 1992. A representative, county-wide Steering Committee determined that a four-mill levy was needed to establish the college. The issue was placed on the ballot for February 16, 1993, and was met with voter approval. With local funding established, the institution became Mid-South Community College (MSCC). Dr. Barbara Baxter was hired as vice president for academic affairs in March 1994. Both Fenter and Baxter brought to the college an understanding and insight into the educational needs of the Delta and its people.
Since the school became a community college, enrollment has increased from approximately 100 students to 1,945 students as of the fall of 2015. MSCC partnered with Arkansas State University (ASU) and the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) to provide additional programs.
In August 2012, the college dedicated the new $9.5 million Marion Berry Renewable Energy Center. The 35,120-square-foot center’s purpose is to serve students pursuing careers in transportation, agriculture, and heavy construction, and also supports research in biofuel production. In 2013, the school opened a wellness center and a FEMA safe room. In January 2015, the college announced a planned merger with Arkansas State University. This merger took effect on July 1, 2015. The previous month, Debra West was announced as the new chancellor of Arkansas State University Mid-South.
For additional information:
Arkansas State University Mid-South. http://www.asumidsouth.edu/ (accessed January 13, 2022).
Sherry Sanders Gray
West Memphis, Arkansas
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