Creating the Future of College: Reimagining Henderson

September 7, 2023

Henderson Records Enrollment of 2,139 for Fall 2023 Semester

Henderson State University has announced enrollment of 2,139 students for the Fall 2023 semester—a decrease of approximately 15 percent from the Fall 2022 semester. Our enrollment exceeds the budget projections for this academic year, and we will continue to build a size and shape that is sustainable for the future.

Moving into Fall 2023 from Year Zero into Year One, we have worked to address structural deficits to support student success and begin to build enrollment from the inside-out. We are implementing the resources needed to reimagine college for all students, and our commitment to make college affordable continues with no tuition increase this year.


May 16, 2023

Work Under Way to Establish Reddie Student Success Center

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

We are working diligently to launch the Reddie Student Success Center, a #StudentsFirst initiative that reflects our commitment to access, persistence, and graduation. Student success and college completion are key elements of the Net Institutional Performance component of Henderson’s Strategic Resource Allocation Model.

The Reddie Student Success Center will include three critical elements to improve student retention and graduation rates: Student success coaches, a Huie Hub, and Navigate technology to facilitate access to resources and communication.


May 8, 2023

Henderson Makes Gains in FAFSA Filings, Meeting Financial Need of First-Year Students

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

College affordability is an important part of opening the doors of opportunity and access for all students and is a critical element of reimagining college at Henderson. The cost of college is a barrier for far too many students, especially for first-generation college students. We are taking specific action to address affordability and lower the net cost of tuition for students. These are priorities identified in the Net Institutional Performance component of Henderson’s Strategic Resource Allocation Model.

In addition to recommending flat tuition for 2023-2024, we have been successful in significantly increasing the percentage of first-year students completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application. This, in addition to the restructuring of our institutional financial aid, has reduced the average unmet financial needs of first-year students.

Additionally, 57.1 percent of the 2022 first-year class was Pell-eligible, up from 43.1 percent in 2021, reflective of our commitment to making college accessible, particularly for those students who demonstrate high financial need. Pell funding not only makes college more affordable for students but also provides steady revenue for the university.

Other measures of Henderson's commitment to affordability include:

  • Increasing the percentage of admitted students who complete the FAFSA from 44.9 percent in 2021 to 52.7 percent in 2022
  • Reducing the average unmet financial need of first-year students from $13,817 in 2021-2022 to $9,659 in 2022-2023
  • Improving the average percentage of financial need met for first-year students from 53.7 percent in 2021-2022 to 81.5 percent in 2022-2023

Henderson is a college that works for all students because we believe in the potential of every learner, which opens the doors of opportunity and access. We are committed to evaluating performance metrics to ensure that we are always putting students first.

Joining you in service,
Chuck Ambrose

May 3, 2023

Introducing the Reddie Help Center

Dear Members of the Campus Community, 

We are pleased to announce the creation of the Reddie Help Center, a Students First Initiative that reflects our commitment to improve retention and student graduation rates.

The Reddie Help Center will help students navigate campus resources, serve as the office for Title IX, and provide critical assistance such as a food pantry, clothes closet, and life skills education center. Bobbie Lee, director of compliance and student advocacy, will lead the center, which also will be staffed by two graduate assistants. We are working toward a July opening date.

The Reddie Help Center will be located on the first floor of the Garrison in the space currently occupied by KSWH Radio. The digital media production department has expressed a desire to shift from broadcast radio to podcasting and will create a studio space in McBrien Hall for that purpose. 

Henderson Foundation will work with the university to fund minor space modifications for the Reddie Help Center through the generosity of a grant from the William Harold Sturgis Trust. This will include new paint, flooring, modification of a window, and some furnishings. 

The Reddie Help Center will work with community partners to stock food and clothing, collaborate with Henderson Foundation to administer the Reddie Student Emergency Aid Fund, and partner with Sodexo to allocate meals from the Swipe Out Hunger Fund. 

In the coming weeks, we will share implementation details for the next two components of our Students First Initiative—the Reddie Student Success Center and our redesigned First Year Experience. 

Joining you in service,
Chuck Ambrose

April 18, 2023

Updates on Modified Cash Budget and Students First Initiative

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

Throughout this 2022-2023 fiscal year, we have continued to follow our modified cash budget and now are preparing the 2023-2024 budget for consideration by the Arkansas State University System Board of Trustees in June. We anticipate a cautious, deliberate approach to budgeting for the next academic year as part of our multi-year financial recovery process.

Our day-to-day cash flow has improved as we progressed from seven days of cash on hand in 2019 to 50 days of cash on hand in 2022. However, our long-term institutional debt requires that we do not commit funds unless there is a clear return on investment and our annual net revenue begins to grow. Every budgeted dollar must produce positive gains for recruitment and retention or be leveraged for new sources of diversified revenue through partnerships or fundraising.

This means that we will continue to utilize the modified cash budget and academic program portfolio to carefully evaluate all requests for expenditures, including position management, with respect to our on-going debt service payments and general operational commitments. Recent fluctuations in financial markets and inflation have limited our ability to refinance the long-term debt, but this remains a possibility in future months. While we are in a stronger financial position now, we will monitor growth and our spending carefully to continue progress for the future.

Know that we will continue to prioritize the needs of students—including refining the fall schedule to make sure that we provide the classes that students need, working with students in teach-out programs to complete classes and graduate, and realigning and reallocating existing resources for the Students First Initiative.

These operational objectives align with the Fiscal Management and Responsibility component of Henderson’s Strategic Resource Allocation Model. We also are moving forward with our Students First Initiative in support of our Administrative Efficiencies and Net Institutional Performance strategic components.

Our Students First Initiative is a critical component of our commitment to improve retention and student graduation rates. We are moving forward with the thoughts and ideas shared at last month’s Mapping the Henderson Student Experience cross-functional team planning session. Your voices were heard, and we will realign people, processes, and resources to create two hubs to eliminate the Henderson Shuffle. Between now and July 1, you will begin to see the results of these restructuring efforts.

First, the creation of a Reddie Help Center in the Garrison will serve as a centralized hub to provide daily assistance for students. This will include helping students seamlessly navigate processes and resources across campus as well as house a food pantry, clothes closet, and life skills education center.

Second, a Reddie Student Success Center will consolidate tutoring, career services, and advising into a centralized hub for students. Please look for details about these exciting developments in the coming weeks.

Joining you in service,
Chuck Ambrose

February 20, 2023

Operational Update

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

Last month, we reported progress on the Fiscal Management and Responsibility component of Henderson’s Strategic Resource Allocation Model. We remain cautiously optimistic about our finances even as we continue to carefully monitor expenses and explore options to diversify revenue and address long-term debt. Our next steps are to begin work to build out the model related to the Administrative Efficiencies and Net Institutional Performance components of our strategic framework.

Student success is the heart of our mission. We must have an all-in focus on providing access and opportunity for students to enroll, stay in school, and graduate. On Friday, March 3, a cross-functional team of students, faculty, and staff will begin a process to map the Henderson student experience. We have four objectives for this work:

● Identify the core values that define the Henderson experience.

● Map the functionalities and overall workflow/process needed to support the student experience.

● Align staffing and resources to support the student experience and improve completion outcomes.

● Develop and utilize new data visualization tools, in cooperation with the Education Advisory Board, and technical assistance and coaching, in partnership with Complete College America, to better engage and meet the needs of every student and allocate our resources aligned to the academic portfolio.


February 16, 2023

Introducing the HSU Board of Visitors

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

The Henderson State University Board of Visitors will convene its inaugural meeting on Feb. 21 at 1 p.m. in the Womack Hall Board Room. The agenda will include the election of officers and appointment of terms as well as an overview of institutional priorities, including the financial update that I shared with you last month.

Henderson’s Board of Visitors serves the Arkansas State University System Board of Trustees in an advisory role to aid in securing financial support, make recommendations about the educational needs of the university’s service area, and provide counsel and guidance.

The Henderson State University Board of Visitors includes:

  • Nikki Chandler, human resources specialist for Hostess in Arkadelphia

  • Lena Hayes, chief development officer for the Baptist Health Foundation in Little Rock

  • Lloyd D. Jackson, assistant superintendent of school leadership for Kansas City Public Schools

  • William G. Wright, West Region CEO for Southern Bancorp Bank in Arkadelphia

  • Jordan Jones, a Henderson student from Glenwood

We look forward to working together in the coming months in service to Henderson and our shared educational mission.

Joining you in service,
Dr. Chuck Ambrose

January 11, 2023

Financial Update

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

Welcome back to campus! I hope that you had an opportunity during the holidays to celebrate with family and friends and to take a well-deserved break after a year of significant change for Henderson in 2022.

At the beginning of 2022, we faced a $12.5 million projected budget shortfall, which prompted us to implement a modified cash budget and work through financial exigency. We experienced as much change in a 12-month period as any public higher education institution ever has. This has been a difficult experience for the entire campus and required changes that no chancellor wants to recommend unless absolutely necessary to sustain our educational mission.

Twelve months later, we begin 2023 with new optimism—perhaps a cautious optimism as we still have work to do—however, we can see progress in restoring our financial integrity.


Reimagining Henderson: Restoring Financial Integrity and Redefining the Future of College (2022 Financial Report)

January 9, 2023

Financial Report

In 2022, Henderson State University implemented one of the largest cost containments in the shortest timeframe in the history of public higher education. In January 2022, Henderson faced a $12.5 million projected budget shortfall for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, long-term debt of $78 million that required annual debt service payments of $6.9 million, and depleted financial reserves, even after receiving a $6 million dollar advance from the State of Arkansas in July 2019 and $12 million in Higher Education Emergency Relief Funding.

Henderson needed to restore financial integrity and stabilize its finances for sustainable operations. This included eliminating its annual operating deficits, improving its overall cash position, and aligning its instructional spending with the revenue generated by specific academic programs. The following report summarizes the process from modified cash budget and financial exigency to Henderson's next steps to improve student persistence and completion rates.


November 16, 2022

Banner and Financial Update

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I want to share my gratitude and appreciation for your work to restore our financial integrity, put #StudentsFirst, and create a #CollegeThatWorksforAllStudents. Even though this has not been an easy semester with the implementation of a new Banner system, we continue to see some progress in our efforts to improve the university’s financial health. This would not be possible without your resilience and continued efforts to imagine new ways to achieve our educational mission while maximizing available resources.


Modified Cash Budget - October 31, 2022

September 8, 2022

Students First Initiative

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

I am pleased to share that our Students First initiative is moving forward with key partnerships aimed at both opening the doors of access and opportunity for all students and removing barriers to college completion.

Henderson is partnering with Complete College America (CCA) and the Arkansas Department of Higher Education on the Policy, Equity, and Practice (PEP) Initiative and with ReUp to help adult learners complete college degrees.


September 2, 2022

HSU Positioning Platform and Strategic Direction

ASU System Board of Directors approves Henderson positioning platform

The Arkansas State University System Board of Trustees officially approved Henderson’s Strategic Positioning Platform at its September 2 meeting.


August 22, 2022

Higher Learning Commission Update

Higher Learning Commission removes Financial Distress Designation, effectively immediately

The Financial Distress Designation assigned to Henderson State University by the Higher Learning Commission on March 14, 2022, will be removed “effective immediately,” according to a letter I received from the HLC president on Friday, August 19, 2022.

This designation was placed on the university in March following our recommendation for the Declaration of Financial Exigency on February 3, 2022. In April, the Higher Learning Commission reaffirmed the institution’s accreditation and currently is scheduled to host a Focused Visit in June 2023.

This is an important step toward our shared goal to restore fiscal integrity to Henderson State University.


August 18, 2022

Welcome to the Fall Semester

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

As we mark our fourth day of class, I want to thank all of you for the work you are doing to welcome and serve students. Students First is not just an initiative, it is how we help students transition to campus, forge purposeful relationships, make sure that their needs are heard and met, and continue to build a culture of student success.

The Reddie Spirit is strong, as was evident at the Pine Tree Assembly on Monday night and in the ways that we continue to persevere despite the challenges of financial exigency and a conversion to the Banner system. Implementing a new enterprise system in such a short timeframe has not been ideal but will lead to improved services for students longer term. We are continuing to apply aid to student accounts as we track toward Census Day on August 29 and are working on a transition plan for transcripts in the coming weeks.


August 9, 2022

Budget Update

As of July 31, 2022, the expected annualized future salary savings for vacated positions is $7,038,548 plus $1,970,793 in estimated fringe benefits.

View savings information by month.

July 7, 2022

Governor Hutchinson, Secretary Key express confidence, support for Henderson's future

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Secretary of Education Johnny Key today expressed confidence and support for Henderson State University’s academic reorganization, partnerships and future that will lead to improved student success in Arkansas.

“Henderson leadership has worked hard to right the ship,” Hutchinson said at a news conference at the State Capitol. “Tough decisions have been made that were not easy and were painful, but necessary for survival of Henderson. We all want to see Henderson succeed.”

The governor said he was grateful to the Arkansas State University System and President Chuck Welch for “stepping up” to support Henderson, which became a member of the system in 2021, and that he wanted to “showcase Henderson and its purpose.”

“Henderson’s singular focus is student success, making college more affordable and developing pathways from kindergarten to college,” Hutchinson said. “I’m proud of the transition and pivot. Survival was a real issue in the past, and Arkansas would be less if it didn’t have Henderson.”


HSU Strategic Positioning Platform

Reimagining Henderson: College that Works for All Students

June 17, 2022

Budget Update, End of Furloughs

Furloughs will end July 1 This change will be effective with July 15 paychecks. We are projected to end the fiscal year with $3.7-$5 million in cash, which will support summer payroll and help the university transition into the fall semester.


Modified Cash Budget - May 31, 2022

May 5, 2022

ASU Board Approves Financial Exigency Recommendations

The Arkansas State University System Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve the chancellor's financial exigency recommendations today.


Chancellor's Recommendations

Financial Exigency Committee's Recommendations

Academic Restructuring FAQ

May 2, 2022

The Arkansas State University System Board of Trustees will consider financial exigency recommendations prepared by the Chancellor and the Financial Exigency Committee on Thursday, May 5 at 10 a.m. Connection information will be available at in advance of the meeting.

Dr. Ambrose's Message

Guide to Human Resources Transitions

April 20, 2022

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

As we work toward next steps of our financial exigency process, I am sharing an overview of our progress and challenges, further defining decision-making metrics and tools, and providing a timeline of actions needed to build a sustainable, student success-driven model for Henderson State University.

As communicated in the Academic Performance and Program Viability document, decisions concerning academic programs will be based on four primary metrics:

  • Net cost basis of delivery and overall net revenue production
  • Unit-based cost of instruction defined at the seat level
  • Student success rates with weighted priority for degree completion
  • Alignment to community-based needs and 21st century durable skills

Today, I want to provide access to dashboards and additional context for the first three metrics that are being utilized to evaluate academic programs in the financial exigency process.

Read Dr. Ambrose's message and access the dashboards.

Dashboards FAQ


April 2022 Activity: Modified Cash Budget

March 2022 Activity: Modified Cash Budget

ASU System Board Resolution (March 28, 2022)

Reimagining Henderson: Academic Performance and Program Viability

February 2022 Activity: Modified Cash Budget

Letter from Higher Learning Commission

Response to Higher Learning Commission


Human Resources FAQ

Student FAQ

Fiscal Responsibility and Financial Exigency Process Next Steps FAQ

Position Management Process FAQ


Letter to Faculty Senate (February 9, 2022)

Responses to Faculty Senate Questions

Henderson's Strategic Resource Allocation Model

FY2022 HSU Modified Cash Budget

January 2022 Activity

FY2023 HSU Modified Cash Budget without HEERF

Presentation from Campus Conversation on February 3, 2022

Cost Savings Survey Results as of January 28, 2022

Position Justification Form

Rapid Response Team Cost Savings Survey

Modified Cash Budget Pro Forma (Unaudited)

Chancellor Messages

December 9, 2021

January 10, 2022

January 14, 2022

January 20, 2022

January 27, 2022

February 3, 2022

February 9, 2022

March 3, 2022

March 9, 2022

March 18, 2022

March 28, 2022

April 20, 2022

June 17, 2022