East Arkansas Community College
East Arkansas Community College (EACC) is a comprehensive two-year college dedicated to meeting the educational needs of its service area in eastern Arkansas. The college has served as a leader for social and economic improvement and continued growth in the region.
Citizens of St. Francis County created a college committee in 1968 out of a desire and need for a community college. At the time, there was no access to higher education in the area, with the exception of Memphis, Tennessee, and Jonesboro (Craighead County). Students who were unable to relocate had no other options. In June 1969, the committee—named the Crowley’s Ridge Community College Corporation—received approval for its initial charter. In 1971, Betty Jo Hodges donated $25,000 to the organization, enabling the committee to purchase approximately forty acres of land in Forrest City (St. Francis County). In 1973, the Arkansas Board of Higher Education announced that St. Francis County had met the requirements necessary to form a community college district, and on November 8, voters approved the proposal to initiate a four-mill tax to finance construction of the college.
The board of trustees officially took office on December 13, 1973. On February 7, 1974, Horace E. Hartsell was selected by trustees as the first president of EACC. On August 26, 1974, classes opened in a temporary facility at the corner of Izard and Court streets near the courthouse. In 1974, the board authorized the construction of twelve buildings at a cost of $1.3 million on the approved Crowley’s Ridge site. The first EACC classes began at the new campus in August 1975. In 1979, EACC received accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and was awarded continued accreditation in 1989 and 1999.
A $1.5 million expansion in 1986 increased the physical plant by more than fifty percent, and an additional 23,000 square feet of new facilities were added to the EACC campus, including a fourth classroom building, a music building, a small lecture hall, and an expansion of the physical education building. The college erected a million-dollar Computer Education Center and two new office buildings in 1994. The 15,000-square-foot EACC Learning Resource Center—which houses the EACC Library, the Business and Industrial Training Center, Community Education, and the Distance Learning classroom—opened in December 2000, and the Betty Jo Hodges Student Services Complex opened in the spring of 2002. A building dedicated to advanced technology and manufacturing programs was constructed in 2005.
EACC boasts one of the lowest tuition rates in Arkansas. Its primary service area includes St. Francis, Lee, Monroe, Cross, and Woodruff counties, but the college’s educational influence extends beyond that. Students attend classes either at the main campus in Forrest City or at numerous off-campus sites, such as the Technology Center for the Delta located in Wynne (Cross County). EACC also offers students the option of taking classes online and via compressed video network (CVN) through its Distance Education Department.
EACC offers its students a wide variety of academic and technical educational options including the Associate of Arts (transfer degree), the Associate of Arts in Teaching (middle school and P-4 tracks), fifteen options in the Associate of Applied Science degree program, the Associate of Science degree (agricultural, food, and life sciences), nineteen options in Technical Certificate programs, and fourteen Certificates of Proficiency.
The most popular programs at EACC are the Allied Health programs. EACC currently offers the following: Certificate of Proficiency in Medication Assistant Program, Technical Certificate in Health Professions, EMT-Paramedic (Associate of Applied Science degree and Technical Certificate in EMT-Paramedic), Associate of Applied Science Nursing Program, and Associate of Applied Science Radiologic Technology.
The majority of EACC students are non-traditional. In September 2014, the enrollment was 1,276 students. In addition to the regular students, hundreds of area residents of all ages participate in non-credit community education courses each year. The Business and Industry Training Program at EACC provides quality employee performance, technology, and work-environment solutions for area businesses and industries to increase their capacity for expansion and growth.
In 2017, the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 636, which laid out the process for merging EACC and the nearby Crowley’s Ridge Technical Institute (CRTI). On July 31, 2017, the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board voted for the merger, and EACC assumed the property, personnel, and funding of CRTI. In early 2024, it was announced that EACC was exploring a partnership with the University of Arkansas System.
For additional information:
Anderson, Ryan. “east Arkansas Community College Eyes Joining UA System.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, February 17, 2024, pp. 1A, 7A. Online at https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2024/feb/16/east-arkansas-community-college-considers/ (accessed February 17, 2024).
East Arkansas Community College. http://www.eacc.edu/ (accessed June 15, 2023).
Elizabeth Cockrell Loeb
Forrest City, Arkansas
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