University expands offerings in state capital

With the new lease of a building, John Brown University will be offering graduate programs in the Little Rock area for the first time in August of 2013.

“JBU started offering undergraduate degree completion courses in Little Rock in 1996,” said Richard Ellis, dean of the Graduate School. “We worked out of a temporary facility the first year—that was just an office—then relocated to the present classroom and office building in 1997.”

Ed Ericson, vice president of academic affairs, said, “We were the first degree players in the Little Rock Area.”

The current site was chosen because of its proximity to Little Rock Air Force Base and the growth “north of the river” that has been occurring since the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. In the past decade, the west side of Little Rock has become the growth area and the new financial district while the base has changed its role and population.

The University has debated the pros and cons of investing in Little Rock or leaving Little Rock for a number of years. The first proposal to relocate from the current facility was presented in 2004.

“The growth and financial stability of the Graduate School and our increased competence in offering high quality online courses in recent years contributed to the decision to stay in Little Rock,” said Ellis.

Susan DeWoody, dean of degree completion and non-traditional programs, added, “Our new complex in west Little Rock will offer, both online and face-to-face degree completion and graduate programs. This will allow JBU to bring a wider variety of educational options to central Arkansas residents.”

Degree programs are offered based on demand.

The formats that will be used in the new facility are the same formats used in the facility in Fort Smith, Ark.

“People tend to look to take online classes from local universities, because it provides a sense of stability, and will also provide a place for recruiting,” Ellis said. “Students can access all of our main campus services at the Little Rock center.”

“People look for a way to get what people in higher education call ‘a brick and mortar feel,’” DeWoody said.

The degree completion program organizational management turns 20 years old this year.