As we pause between the spring and the summer terms, I would like to continue a discussion of some concepts that we as a University value. As an institution, we chose five ideals that we call "Core Values" when we recrafted our University's mission a few years ago. These Core Values are the foundation for our decisions:
One hundred years ago, the majority of those assuming that they would go to college were from wealthy households. They aspired to be engineers, doctors, and lawyers. Meanwhile, the majority of American high school students saw college as an unreachable goal. Financially, they were unable to leave the farm to pursue education. Socially, they were reluctant to leave home to study at the University. As long as the family farm was providing for the family's needs, they were fine.
Times changed. The family farm quickly became a rarity. Technology and economics pushed people to careers requiring more and more technical expertise. Having an education was once thought a luxury - it is now becoming a necessity. While the merits of our modern lifestyle can be debated at length elsewhere, it is a fact that our young people need to have access to an education that will help them survive and thrive.
Valuing access is one reason that I love community colleges such as ours. We are an "open-door" institution. That means that our doors are open for you to try. Everyone has a shot. Unlike our four-year counterparts, a low ACT score will not keep you out of the University. You are welcome to come to ASU-Heber Springs to learn. Understand that we will still hold students to high standards (see Integrity and Excellence), but all are welcome to come in.
To promote access, we consider the financial strain that college can put on students. We keep tuition as low as we can because we understand that money is tight. We participate in Federal Financial Aid so students can use Pell Grants or other aid programs to fund their education. We also have programs like Career Pathways that help students beyond tuition and fees.
As I said before, this is why I love community colleges. We welcome students in and give them a chance to transform their lives through education. At graduation each year, our Chancellor, Dr. Eugene McKay, asks the graduates three questions. Usually, the first of these is "how many of you are first-generation college students?" First-generation college students are the first in their family to earn a degree. Without fail, a majority of our students will stand - many times, two-thirds of our students will stand. These students blazed a trail for their families because we value Access.