Higher education notebook

Posted: November 6, 2017 at 2:22 a.m.

Couple’s $25,000 starts ASU award

An Arkansas State University System trustee and his wife have created an endowed scholarship for pre-law students at the Jonesboro school.

Price and Sara Gardner gave the university’s foundation $25,000 to create the first scholarship for pre-law students at ASU, according to a news release. To qualify for the scholarship, students must be upper-level, enrolled full-time on a pre-law track and demonstrate financial need, the university said.

The chairman of the university’s department of political science — in coordination with the university’s John V. Phelps and Tom D. Womack Pre-Law Center — will award the scholarship annually starting next fall.

“Sara and I are excited about the opportunity to follow the lead of John Phelps and Tommy Womack in helping our students pursue a career in law,” Price Gardner said in a prepared statement. “A-State provided me with a foundation for a career I truly enjoy, and we wanted to do something that hopefully will have a meaningful impact on both current and future students.”

The Gardners are 1924 Sustaining Life Members of the A-State Alumni Association. Price Gardner earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting at the university and is currently a partner in the state’s largest law firm, Friday, Eldredge & Clark LLP in Little Rock.

Arkansas singer wins FFA contest

An Arkansas Tech University student won the National FFA Convention and Expo talent competition late last month.

Noah Davis, 18, sang the 2013 Rihanna hit “Stay” at the Tech’s Got Talent semifinals during homecoming week this year, and some 10 days later, the Hot Springs native added a touch of piano when he performed the song again in front of an estimated crowd of 6,000 during the National FFA Organization contest finals in Bankers Life Fieldhouse at Indianapolis.

And when he advanced, he performed once more before a crowd of 10,000 at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis, earning the 90th title of the group’s talent competition.

Davis first got started singing as a child through his church, and he has been involved since eighth grade with the group formerly known as Future Farmers of America, according to a news release.

The Arkansas Tech freshman is currently studying nursing and has thought about finding a way to make a career out of his passion for singing, the release said.

“Winning the national contest definitely gives me confidence to pursue it more,” he said. “It started out as a hobby, but I think anything you are willing to give 100 percent to, you can make a career out of it. I’m a kid from a little town in Arkansas, and I didn’t expect to make it that far in the competition, much less to win. Just because you don’t think you can doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.”

President named for 2-year college

East Arkansas Community College has hired a new president.

The college’s board late last month selected Cathie Cline to lead the two-year school based in Forrest City. Cline, who currently works at the college as an associate vice president of general studies, will replace Coy Grace, who is retiring after having led the school for nearly two decades.

The selection ends a presidential search that started in June and brought in more than 40 applicants.

The board of trustees gave Cline a 2½-year contract that will begin Jan. 1, according to East Arkansas. She will earn $150,000 annually, up from the $79,798 she earns in her current role. As president, Cline will live in a home at 1326 E. Broadway in Forrest City.

Cline, 50, started teaching at East Arkansas in 2000 and has worked as department chairman for the social and behavioral sciences division and the humanities division, according to the college. In her current role, she oversees faculty and staff in the divisions of humanities, business and social sciences in Forrest City, Wynne and online.

Cline will take the helm of the community college as it undergoes a merger with Crowley’s Ridge Technical Institute, with which it shares a property line. She will also lead the college as the state starts a new funding method for its public higher education institutions based on students’ progression and completion of certificate and degree programs. Under the new funding method, schools can earn more state funding if they improve on certain metrics from year to year.

In the funding method’s first year, which is set to start July 1, the state will recommend that East Arkansas maintain its current funding, meaning it did not contribute to the state’s higher education productivity index. The first year of the new funding method is a “hold harmless” year, but in subsequent years, schools that do not contribute to the index could lose state funds.