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The University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College announced five dean appointments on Wednesday, one of the final reorganization steps that administrators expect will save the community college $344,000 annually.

The reconfiguring of the state's second-largest community college has been called a "shake-up," said Tim Jones, director of public relations and marketing. But that characterization isn't correct because it's been a "fairly methodical" process, he said.

Appointing five deans was the latest move in a long-term plan to eliminate some administrative positions, retain students and help them complete certificate and degree programs.

Pulaski Tech previously said it was realigning its academic divisions from six to three and reducing the number of academic deans from six to three.

Now, there are the schools of Science, Mathematics and Allied Health; Technical and Professional Studies; and Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, according to a news release.

Marico Howe of the Little Rock area, Bentley Wallace of North Little Rock and Christy Oberste of the Little Rock area will be the deans for the three schools, respectively.

As part of the reorganization, a vice chancellor position was split into two new dean positions: one for student affairs and the other for admissions and financial aid.

Mason Campbell of Little Rock and John Lewis of Lake City were appointed to those posts, respectively.

The reorganization process came, in part, as a result of Pulaski Tech's "fiscal realities," Jones said.

State funding for the college has flat-lined, hovering around $17.39 million for the past five years. Enrollment has declined every year during that period.

Pulaski Tech, like many colleges, gets nearly three-fifths of its budget from tuition and fee income.

The college is predicting a slight enrollment decline, and a $41.65 million budget, for next year, said Tara Smith, vice chancellor of finance.

However, Jones said, Pulaski Tech's restructuring "was done, first and foremost, to make sure we have a high-quality education to offer the community."

"In order to do that, we have to be fiscally on good footing and manage our money responsibly," he said.

When the reorganization was announced in February, the college predicted it would save at least $270,000 annually.

After running new calculations, Smith said that figure will be more like $344,000 annually.

The three new academic deans -- Howe, Wallace and Oberste -- will "ensure we are offering a quality education, that we maintain the standards that are expected by [the state Department of Higher Education] and by our accreditors," Jones said.

To determine how well the deans are doing, an eye will be on graduation and retention rates, Jones said. The state's current higher-education funding formula is based on the institution's success in advancing students.

"I think that's what we are being judged by, and should be," Jones added.

Before Howe, 43, was hired as dean of the School of Science, Mathematics and Allied Health, she was an assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, according to her biography provided by the community college.

She will be paid $86,000 annually at Pulaski Tech.

Wallace, 50, will be paid $92,000 as dean of the School of Technical and Professional Studies. He was the community college's vice chancellor for economic development since January 2013, according to his biography.

Oberste, 38, was Pulaski Tech's chairman of communication before becoming dean of the School of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, according to her biography. She will earn $80,000.

Lewis, 40, has been a faculty member and director of financial aid at Christian Brothers University in Memphis since 2013, according to his biography.

As dean of admissions and financial aid, he will earn $90,000.

Campbell, 32, spent a year as a specialist with the state Department of Higher Education before becoming Pulaski Tech's dean of student affairs.

Before that, he worked at Arkansas State University-Mountain Home, in various roles. He will be paid $76,000.

No additional state money had to be appropriated to pay for the dean positions, said Smith, the vice chancellor.

Dr. Christy Oberste, University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College
Dr. Marico Howe, University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College
Dr. Bentley E. Wallace, University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College
Dr. John Lewis, University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College
Mason Campbell, University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College

Metro on 07/12/2018

Print Headline: Community college appoints 5 new deans; Measures by UA-Pulaski Tech part of plan to reorganize, save $344,000 a year

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