Harding University and Arkansas State University at Beebe (ASU-Beebe) signed a memorandum of understanding Friday, Aug. 9, in Cone Chapel to formalize a partnership between the two universities.
Harding President Bruce McLarty and Provost Marty Spears represented Harding in signing the memorandum. The official statement ensures a future partnership between the two universities in facilitating the process for students to transfer class credits.
According to Harding University Registrar Tod Martin, this agreement allows students who earn an associate’s degree at ASU-Beebe to transfer their credits easily to Harding University in order to complete a bachelor’s degree.
“ASU students who are in an associate’s program will have a clear pathway, an easy transition to become Harding students when they’re done,” Spears said. “We will start recruiting them in their first year at ASU-Beebe.”
Spears said he plans to work with ASU-Beebe to form curriculum for specific 2+2 programs. Students will be able to enroll in classes at Beebe for two years that are designed to lead into specific programs at Harding such as the College of Business Administration or the College of Education, according to Spears.
Martin said that in the past, students could transfer ASU-Beebe courses to Harding; however, this new agreement streamlines the process.
“If you think of a pathway, it’s clearing the roadblocks and pulling up the weeds and making the pathway a little straighter and smoother for students to be able to enroll at Harding,” Martin said.
Students who register at ASU-Beebe with the intention to transfer to Harding may receive pre-admission status from the University, according to Spears. This pre-admission status, tentatively called “Bison Ready,” would allow future students access to resources on and around campus and the opportunity to connect with the Harding community, Spears said.
According to Spears, the partnership could go beyond a 2+2 agreement and result in new degrees that incorporate both academic and trade skills.
“[ASU-Beebe] has a lot of technical, vocational type programs over … and it could be that we could package some courses over there with a bachelor’s degree over here to create a unique program” Spears said.
This option to design a hybrid degree would allow students to attend both Harding and ASU-Beebe simultaneously.
According to Spears, while those currently enrolled as part-time students at both universities are not qualified to receive financial aid, the partnership outlined in the memorandum could lead to a financial aid package that recognizes them as full-time students.
Jordan Robinson, the director of financial aid at Harding, said as of now billing methods remain the same. However, that could change depending on further agreements between universities.
“If the agreement expands beyond 2+2 there will be billing and financial aid issues to sort out, but Harding isn’t there yet and so any discussion about it is purely hypothetical,” Robinson said.
According to Martin, the opportunities for students to receive an education at both universities will hopefully increase enrollment for both Harding and ASU-Beebe.
“We want them to use their connection to Harding to be a recruitment tool for Beebe,” Martin said. “Hopefully it helps them get good students because there is a GPA requirement for a student to participate in this degree — they have to have good grades. And it helps us in that we get some transfers as well.”
In addition to sharing academic resources, the universities plan to invite one another to guest lectures and extracurricular activities. Spears said Harding may invite ASU-Beebe to participate in Bisons for Christ.
“I’m just excited about the whole partnership idea,” Spears said. “I think it speaks volumes to the whole community that we are cooperating. We are not competitors, we are partners.”