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2-year Arkansas college looks to merge with larger systems

Posted on November 21, 2018

MALVERN, (AP) — A two-year college in central Arkansas is considering merging with the University of Arkansas or the Arkansas State University system.

College of the Ouachitas officials are looking into potential mergers after the school's board voted unanimously last week to align with a larger university system, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

College President Steve Rook said the Malvern community college wants to become part of a larger system because its state insurance causes its liability to increase $5.2 million, which is an inaccurate representation. The liability could affect the school's ability to obtain loans and bonds.

Joining a larger system would allow the college to abandon the state insurance for the system's insurance, Rook said.

Rook plans to meet with the University of Arkansas and the Arkansas State University system presidents about the proposal in the coming weeks. Southern Arkansas University also remains an option.

College officials want to explore "which system fits best with the college" in order to make the transition easier, according to Rook.

The board will make a decision by January or early February, Rook said.

Joining a larger university system would take at least a year and a half. The process requires the College of the Ouachitas to change legislation within its college mandates. The college's accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission, and the Arkansas Department of Higher Education will also need to approve the merger.