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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/JASON IVESTER Students walk across campus on Monday, Jan. 30, 2017, at Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville.

BENTONVILLE --The Northwest Arkansas Community College board had a chance to review the school's plans and policies Thursday at an annual retreat.

Ricky Tompkins, vice president of learning, discussed the 2019-20 plan and pointed out a few of the goals weren't met because of the covid-19 pandemic.

For example, the college didn't develop and implement a physical therapy assistant hybrid program as planned. NWACC is still planning to develop the program, but it is on hold, Tompkins said.

"This was due to budget cuts and hiring freeze put into place because of covid-19. New faculty hire should be hired in the fall of 2021 to develop the online courses, students will be able to start applying for the new program fall of 2021, with the official start date of the new program January 2022," according to a report from NWACC.

NWACC switched to online-only instruction in the spring to prevent the spread of covid-19. Evelyn Jorgenson, president, said colleges across the country are asking themselves, "Do we really need all these buildings we've got? In particular, do we need any new buildings?" while speaking to the board about capital improvements.

"I think it's wise for us at this point to hold off until after the pandemic to do a new master plan and look at some of the technological changes that are happening that very well may stay with us as we move forward," she said.

NWACC has 5,733 students enrolled so far for the fall semester, said Todd Kitchen, vice president of student services. The administration's goal is 8,160 students. The school had 8,383 students enrolled at the beginning of the fall 2019 semester, according to Liz Kapsner, spokeswoman.

Teresa Taylor, Title IX coordinator, went over changes to Title IX, a federal law protecting people from sex discrimination at school. Title IX regulates how colleges respond to complaints of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Taylor said NWACC, for the most part, will not need to make changes because it already practices guidelines that are now legally required instead of recommended.

One of the key changes for most institutions, including NWACC, is they must provide legal advisers upon request, Taylor said.

"Some of what's changed is how the hearing process is lined out. Now we're doing cross examination," she said.

NWACC will also need to provide more training for its Title IX team and hearing board members, according to Taylor's presentation.

New regulations deem a school in violation of Title IX "when its response is clearly unreasonable in light of known circumstances," according to Taylor's presentation. Schools must investigate all formal Title IX complaints, and complaints that do not fall under the law may instead be heard under the school's code of student conduct.

Alex Golden can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @NWAalexgolden.

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