Campus representatives share experiences teaching, learning during pandemic

Posted Date - 11/5/20

Faculty and student representatives spoke to the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville board of visitors about the opportunities and challenges of teaching and learning during the pandemic at the board’s quarterly meeting Oct. 15.

Dr. Andrew Seely, biology instructor and UACCB faculty senate president, spoke to the board on behalf of the UACCB faculty about teaching during the pandemic. Seely noted that the faculty maintained a positive outlook on instructing students this fall.

“We knew our students still wanted to learn, and our faculty still wanted to teach. What we did not anticipate was how willing the students would be to adapt to this new situation,” he said.

Students have adjusted to the new “hy-flex” model of teaching well, Seely continued. Course instruction is being conducted through a combination of on-campus teaching and asynchronous instruction via Blackboard Collaborate, an online learning platform. Seely added that the use of Blackboard Collaborate and Microsoft Surface devices have contributed to the faculty’s continuity of instruction. Faculty have also been  diligent in modeling the behavior they wish to see students emulate such as wearing face coverings correctly, maintaining social distance, and frequent handwashing.

Briar Bumpous, president of the Student Government Association, spoke to the board on behalf of the student body, saying that students have not had any issues transitioning to the hy-flex learning model. “I’ve spoken to students on campus and asked if they are having any trouble or if there’s anything that could make it better. No one has had any issues,” Bumpous said. He added that he enjoys the Collaborate platform because he is able to review previously recorded lessons in the event that he misses a class or to study for an exam. “I have all the lessons right there, so I can go back and review the material at any time,” he said.

With teaching and learning being the primary focus of the meeting, Ms. Deborah Frazier reported to the board that UACCB had received a $2.25 million Title III Strengthening Institution Program (SIP) grant award from the U.S. Department of Education for the “Better Teaching, Better Learning” project. The Strengthening Institution Program is designed to help higher education institutions expand their capacity to serve at-risk students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the institution’s academic quality, institutional management and fiscal stability.

UACCB’s “Better Teaching, Better Learning” project evolved through the  campus integration of Guided Pathways. The $2.25 million, five-year grant will provide funds for both full-time and adjunct faculty to participate and gain certification from Quality Matters (QM), a nonprofit organization with the mission of promoting and improving the quality of online education and student learning, as well as the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE). According to the organization’s website, “the ACUE prepares, credentials, and provides on-going support to faculty in the use of evidence-based teaching practices that promote student engagement, persistence to graduation, career readiness, and deeper levels of learning. Faculty who satisfy the requirements of ACUE’s courses through institutional partnerships or open enrollment courses earn certificates in effective college instruction endorsed by the American Council on Education.” The grant also provides funding for additional personnel to support the grant activities.

Zach Perrine, vice chancellor for student affairs, provided an enrollment update based on preliminary data for the fall 2020 semester. Budgeted fall enrollment was 1,296. Perrine said preliminary enrollment was 1,231, 93.54% of the college’s fall enrollment goal. He noted that the college did some direct outreach to students who dropped between the end of registration and the deadline to report census data to the Arkansas Division of Higher Education. It was discovered a variety of competing responsibilities prevented those students from attending this fall, he said, including challenges with finances and family care as a result of the pandemic.

Hannah Keller Flanery, communications and marketing coordinator, shared a marketing report detailing some of UACCB’s new digital marketing efforts to reach prospective students. Flanery reported that a digital campaign was launched in the fall 2019 utilizing a landing page developed by VisionAmp Web Design. Targeted social media ads were delivered directing traffic through the landing page and ultimately to the online application on UACCB’s main website. Expanding on those digital efforts, Flanery also discussed  a comprehensive digital campaign that was developed for the fall 2020 semester with CLARUS Corporation. UACCB utilized the landing page again for this campaign along with targeted digital ads delivered to three unique audiences and geofencing of specific locations. The campaign resulted in 186 enrollments. Flanery added that a similar campaign was underway for the spring 2020 semester.

Gayle Cooper, vice chancellor for finance and administration, gave the first financial report of the academic year. Cooper said the budget report was submitted on May 1, 2020. He noted that the $237,000 the college was required to cut from the budget during the last fiscal year as a result of the pandemic was returned to the college but had not yet been received. Additionally, funds from local sales tax was greater than projected. The only debt that the college currently has is for the workforce training center totaling approximately $1.2 million.

In other business, the board:

  • Voted to reaffirm the college’s mission statement as presented by Dr. Anne Austin, vice chancellor for research, planning, and assessment

  • Heard a report from Jodie Hightower, assistant to the chancellor, on the number of self-reported   positive cases of COVID-19 associated with campus. As of the meeting, there were 13 self-reported cases.

  • Welcomed new board member Calvin Wright, store manager for Home Depot in Batesville.

  • Recognized the UACCB 2020 Outstanding Faculty, Outstanding Staff, Outstanding Adjunct Faculty, Outstanding Alumni, and Academic All-Star Award winners. A stipend was presented to the Outstanding Faculty, Staff and Adjunct  recipients on behalf of Futurefuel. The Academic All-Star recipient receives a scholarship to a four-year institution in state. All award winners were recognized at the annual Arkansas Community Colleges conference in October. Award winners are:
    Outstanding Faculty – Holly Goslin
    Outstanding Staff – Sherrie Gunther
    Outstanding Adjunct Faculty – Mary Brewer
    Outstanding Alumni – Dr. Zelda Epperson-May
    Academic All-Star – Macy Morgan

  • Heard introductions of new UACCB faculty and staff members including:

  • Roger Ried, director of the secondary career center
    Elizabeth Smith, JAG career coach
    Ashlyn Canard, practical nursing faculty
    Jeanette Youngblood, division chair for business, technology, and public service
    Billy Stidham, admissions counselor

  • Heard introductions of 2020-21  Student Government Association members

  • Reviewed a report of internal position transfers including:
    Meagan Akins - from admissions counselor to director of admissions
    Sharon Gage - from administrative specialist in the library to administrative specialist in advising
    Andrea Lee - from director of adult education to adult education faculty
    C'aira Stewart- from administrative specialist, academics to administrative specialist in admissions
    Becky Warren - from director of career services to director of adult education
    Comfort Winston - from administrative assistant in advising to administrative assistant in the library

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