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Board retains Arkansas Tech as host of summer Governor's School

by Cynthia Howell | June 11, 2021 at 3:32 a.m.
Wilson Hall is shown on the Arkansas Tech University campus in Russellville in this July 2007 file photo.

Arkansas Tech University will continue to be home to the Arkansas Governor's School through the summer of 2024, the state Board of Education decided Thursday.

The summer residential program for the state's gifted, rising high school seniors is currently based at the Russellville campus. But the selection would have expired after the summer.

The Education Board voted unanimously in support of the Arkansas Tech recommendation made by a site selection committee formed by the state Division of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Krystal Nail, the state's director of gifted education/Advanced Placement programs, said requests for location proposals were sent to all higher-education institutions earlier this year. Arkansas Tech, Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and Hendrix College in Conway responded with proposals. After review of the applications and site visits, Arkansas Tech was the recommended selection.

"We couldn't go wrong," Sandra Johnson, chairwoman of the site selection committee, told the Education Board about the committee's recommendation from what she said was a pool of high-quality applications.

In response to questions from Education Board member Sarah Moore of Stuttgart, Johnson highlighted Arkansas Tech's vision and goals for the program, the addition of a "humanitarian engineering" component to the curriculum and the planned student safety and security features for the program.

Also noted were plans for employing residential assistants who are alumni of the Governor's School and the features that enable this year's participants to connect with one another both before and after the summer session.

Jeff Woods, co-director of the school with Director Robin Lasey, said the program has established recruiting protocols that are meant to attract student applicants who live in parts of the state in which participation has not been high, including north-central and parts of south Arkansas.

The four-week program has a capacity of 400 students. A total of 374 students are enrolled from the pool of applications submitted much earlier this year.

The Governor's School was online-only last summer as a precaution against the coronavirus. This summer the program will be in-person, which is preferable, but also online for those who have health and home-life situations that preclude in-person participation, Woods said.

Hendrix College was the host of the program for its first 38 years. In September 2018, the Board of Education voted 5-2 to make Arkansas Tech the host for the 2019-21 program.

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