National Park College

National Park College (NPC), formerly National Park Community College (NPCC), is located in Mid-America Park just west of Hot Springs (Garland County). It offers associate degrees, technical certificates, continuing education, community services, workforce training, and adult basic education. NPC is the fourth-largest community college in Arkansas.

National Park College resulted from Act 678 of the 2003 Arkansas General Assembly, which merged Garland County Community College (GCCC) and Quapaw Technical Institute (QTI). The act went into effect on July 1, 2003. GCCC had been established as a two-year college in 1973 to provide post-secondary higher education opportunities to the citizens of Garland County and the surrounding areas. QTI was first established as Quapaw Vocational Technical School, a branch campus of the Ouachita Vocational Technical School (now College of the Ouachitas) at Malvern (Hot Spring County). The facility at the Hot Springs branch opened in 1969, and Act 310 of 1973 stipulated that the Hot Springs branch be a separate independent entity named Quapaw Vocational Technical School. As a result of Act 1244 and Act 773 of 1991, the State Board of Vocational Education changed the name to Quapaw Technical Institute on July 8, 1991. The merger of the two schools into NPC combined two adjacent campuses, two governing boards, and the academic and technical courses offered into one comprehensive institution that helped provide a more efficient means of meeting the community’s and the region’s educational needs.

NPC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commissions of the North Central Association of Colleges and by the Council on Occupational Education. It is approved by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing, the Arkansas Department of Health, the National Automotive Technicians, Associated General Contractors of America, and the American Health Information Management Association. NPC is a member of the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges, the Council of North Central Community and Junior Colleges, the National Institute of Staff and Organizational Development, and the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges.

To accommodate student enrollment in the health sciences and nursing programs and to help keep pace with future demands in the medical industry, the 35,000-square-foot Lab Sciences Building was completed in the fall of 2006. It houses state-of-the-art science labs and equipment utilizing the latest technology. Ninety percent of the nurses and healthcare workers employed in the area have received training from NPC. The nursing program at NPC began in 1974, and the first class graduated in spring of 1976. Approximately forty percent of NPC students declare nursing and health science majors.

NPC’s capital campaign began in October 2005 with a working goal of $3 million for building and scholarships. In November 2006, Fred Dierks pledged the largest amount ever given by a single donor to a two-year school in Arkansas. This $1.5 million gift helped in the construction of the Frederick M. Dierks Center for Nursing and Health Sciences, which celebrated its groundbreaking on April 2, 2008.

In 2013, NPC began working with Henderson State University (HSU) to offer business and education classes in Hot Springs. That same year, NPC added a two-year pre-engineering program. NPC is home to the National Park Technology Center, which offers seven career and technical programs for high school juniors and seniors.

Dr. John Hogan became the new NPC president on July 1, 2014. In March 2015, HSU and NPC formally opened the Hot Springs Downtown Education Center. In April 2015, the college formally changed its name to National Park College as part of a larger strategy for developing a new brand identity. The college serves approximately 7,500 students a year in both degree and non-degree programs. In January 2023, NPC announced a partnership with the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM) to offer a four-year business degree in Hot Springs; the following June, the two institutions also announced a nursing degree to be offered at NPC. Also in 2024, NPC announced the construction of a new dormitory, Redbud Hall, to be completed in the summer of 2025. Dr. Wade Derden was selected the new president in 2024 following the retirement of Hogan.

On March 23, 2024, the National Park College Nighthawks won the National Junior College Athletic Association (NCJAA) Division II men’s basketball national championship by defeating South Suburban College by a score of 84–79. The championship capped a season which saw the Nighthawks post a record of 31–1.

For additional information:
Bell, Jay. “College Finds New ‘Path” with Rebrand.” Sentinel-Record (Hot Springs, Arkansas), May 1, 2015, pp. 1A, 4A.

National Park College. (accessed June 15, 2023).

Jill Johnson
National Park College


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