HSU Board approves agreement and transition plan to join ASU System

On November 21, the Henderson State University Board of Trustees approved the merger agreement and transition plan to join the Arkansas State University (ASU) System. The agreement is subject to approval of the ASU Board of Trustees and the Higher Learning Commission, as well as action by the Arkansas General Assembly.

The ASU System Board will be asked to approve the agreement at its regular meeting on December 6 in Little Rock, and the target for completing the transition is January 1, 2021.

Provisions of the agreement include:

  • Requesting an expansion of ASU board membership from five trustees to seven, with the two new appointees by Gov. Asa Hutchinson having “specific familiarity with Henderson State.”

  • Creation of a Henderson Board of Visitors to be appointed by the governor of Arkansas pursuant to legislative enactment. The Board of Visitors would have an advisory function and serve as a liaison to the ASU president and board.

  • Giving the ASU System the right to retain a third party to review Henderson’s operations and financial standing. The ASU System has issued a request for proposals for third-party audit services.

  • Providing ASU System with ongoing management compensation that is consistent with the current Henderson Memorandum of Understanding and the formula used by other ASU System institutions.

As part of the transition plan, the Henderson acting president will report to Dr. Chuck Welch, ASU System President, as part of an interim management process. Dr. Welch also will chair the search committee for a new Henderson president, who would become chancellor of the university following the merger. Advertisement for that position is expected to begin in January.

Henderson would become the second four-year institution in the ASU System and the third higher education institution to join the system in four years. Mid-South Community College in West Memphis became Arkansas State University Mid-South in July 2015, and College of the Ouachitas in Malvern will become Arkansas State University Three Rivers effective January 1, pending approval of the Higher Learning Commission.