University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton (UACCM)
The University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton (UACCM) developed from a small vocational technical school offering only occupational-specific diplomas into a fast-growing degree-granting college with twenty-four available degree programs of study and over 2,000 credit students served each semester. It serves a six-county area and offers two degree programs that are unique to the state of Arkansas: Associate of Applied Science degrees in surveying and petroleum technology.
In 1959, Arkansas’s first postsecondary vocational-technical school had opened in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), and it was originally intended to serve the needs of the entire state. However, the Arkansas General Assembly, recognizing the need for expanded vocational education opportunities, provided state funds for the construction and operation of a second postsecondary vocational-technical school in 1961. Cities throughout the state competed strongly to be considered for the location for the new school. While the decision was up to the State Board of Education, Governor Orval Faubus encouraged the board to select a site north and west of Little Rock (Pulaski County). In 1962, the board voted unanimously to consider sites at Morrilton (Conway County) and Fort Smith (Sebastian County), and after the two sites were visited, the board voted for locating the new school in Morrilton. On June 10, 1962, the board officially named the school Petit Jean Vocational-Technical School (Petit Jean VoTech) after local landmark Petit Jean Mountain. The first classes began in September 1963.
Petit Jean VoTech served Arkansas well for thirty years as an adult vocational school. In 1991, Act 1244, the Two-Year Postsecondary Education Reorganization Act, converted eleven of the state’s postsecondary vocational-technical schools to two-year colleges. As a result of this legislation, Petit Jean Vo-Tech became Petit Jean Technical College (PJTC), and the college expanded its curriculum to include general education courses that were transferable to other state colleges and universities. In 1997, Petit Jean Technical College changed its name to Petit Jean College in order to reflect its more comprehensive mission.
During its first nine years of operation as a college, Petit Jean College’s enrollment increased from 318 students in the fall of 1990 to 1,238 students in the fall of 1999. During that same period, the college achieved accreditation with the North Central Association’s Higher Learning Commission (1996); gained approval to award the Associate of Applied Science degree, the Associate of General Studies degree, the Associate of Arts degree, and a variety of technical certificates; completed several renovation projects and two additions to existing buildings; and constructed a dining hall and the first phase of the Fine Arts Complex. On August 22, 2000, the citizens of Conway County approved a permanent one-quarter-cent sales and use tax in support of the college. By means of a bond issue, phase two of the Fine Arts Complex and a new Business Technology Center were constructed in 2001.
As students’ expanding needs required more resources and stronger programs from the college, Petit Jean College sought to meet these needs by affiliating with the University of Arkansas System. In 2001, the Petit Jean College Board of Trustees voted to become the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton, a comprehensive two-year college backed by the University of Arkansas System. Record enrollments have continued, increasing from 1,290 students in 2001 to 2,007 students in September 2014.
Today, UACCM is a two-year public college that offers a comprehensive curriculum of university-transfer and career-specific technical programs, as well as adult education, community education, and workforce training. The college offers twenty-four degrees and certificates in nineteen emphasis areas, with multiple plans of study available within each degree.
For additional information:
Conway County Heritage: Then and Now. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company, 2006.
Conway County Historical Society. Conway County: Our Land, Our Home, Our People. Little Rock: Historical Publications of Arkansas, 1989, 1992.
General Acts of Arkansas, 1991. Act 1244, pp. 3910–3956, approved April 17, 1991.
University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton. http://www.uaccm.edu/ (accessed July 2, 2009).
Last Updated: 12/10/2014