North Arkansas College (Northark)

North Arkansas College (Northark), a public two-year college created in 1974 and located in Harrison (Boone County), serves the citizens of Boone, Carroll, Marion, Searcy, Newton, and Madison counties.

Originally known North Arkansas Community College, Northark was created to offer the first two years of most baccalaureate degree programs at an affordable price in response to community needs. It added technical certificates and degree majors with its merger in 1993 with Twin Lakes Vocational-Technical School, also located in Harrison, and is now a comprehensive community college. Northark has three campuses in Harrison.

Under the leadership of founding president Dr. Bill Baker, Northark grew steadily. Dr. Jeffery R. Olson was selected on March 2, 2001, as the second president of Northark. Under Olson’s leadership, Northark has focused on economic development, working in partnership with the Harrison Chamber of Commerce and other area organizations to train area residents for future jobs. One of Northark’s most successful initiatives is the North Arkansas Partnership for Health Education (NAPHE), a joint effort with North Arkansas Regional Medical Center to provide health education, community wellness, and workforce development programming in Boone County and the surrounding area. Olson retired in June 2011 and was replaced by Dr. Jackie Elliot. Elliot resigned in 2016, and Dr. Randy Esters was named the new president. He served until 2021, when he left for a job in Louisiana, and Dr. Rick Massengale was named his replacement.

Northark offers transfer and technical degree programs, one-year technical certificates, certificates of proficiency, customized business and industry training, adult basic education (GED) classes, and non-credit community education courses. The college was the first institution in the state to be accepted as an Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) institution. AQIP is an alternative means of accreditation now offered by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. AQIP allows participating institutions to meet accreditation standards by developing and using processes that lead to continuous improvement.

In the spring of 2002, Northark and Arkansas Tech University formed a partnership to allow Northark students to take courses leading to selected Tech baccalaureate programs. Northark is also home to the Advance Program of John Brown University (JBU), which allows students to complete a BS in organizational management entirely at Northark.

The college sponsors five athletic teams: men’s baseball, women’s softball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and a co-ed rodeo program. Enrollment in the fall of 2020 was 1,604.

For additional information:
North Arkansas College. (accessed June 15, 2023).

Jim Stockton
North Arkansas College


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