The University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Benton business leaders are taking steps to make getting a college degree more convenient and affordable for people living in Saline County and surrounding communities.
Beginning next fall, students will be able to complete two new bachelor’s degree programs at the UA Little Rock Benton Campus. The degree programs include a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies.
The programs are open to recent high school graduates, transfer students, and students who left college and want to complete a degree.
UA Little Rock Chancellor Andrew Rogerson announced the new degree offerings during a Sept. 26 news conference on economic development called by Benton Mayor David Mattingly at the Benton Municipal Complex.
“Our university’s commitment to Saline County is to provide a better pathway to a four-year degree,” Rogerson said. “To achieve this goal, UA Little Rock must find creative ways to make college more accessible and affordable—and ensure that students graduate in a timely way with a meaningful degree that sets them up to thrive in careers and life.”
Mattingly said the two degrees will benefit Benton residents and aid in economic development of the city.
“I am sure the new two degrees – Interdisciplinary Studies and Business Management – will be successful and assist in our continued partnership to strengthen economic development in our community,” he said. “Education has always been the key to a community’s vitality, and we are most appreciative of the growth in educational offerings that are being implemented here in Benton.”
At the Benton Campus, the interdisciplinary degree allows students to customize their degree plan to fit their professional needs. It combines three minors – two from the social sciences and a third from any discipline.
UA Little Rock is teaming with the Mayor’s Office and the Benton Campus Advisory Board to raise scholarship funds specifically for students who want to attend the university in their local community at the Benton campus. These scholarships, along with other university scholarships and financial aid, will be available to qualified entering freshmen and transfer students.
In addition, the university has already secured partnerships with six Saline County businesses to offer paid internships that will allow students to earn college credit while on the job:
Bryant branch of Arvest Bank, owner-operator of 16 community banks in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas.
Saline Memorial Hospital, a Benton hospital that has served residents of Saline County and surrounding areas for 60 years.
Access Control Devices, Inc., (ACDI), which specializes in print management software and helps organizations lower their print costs and environmental impact.
Pear Tree Wealth Management, an independent financial planning and wealth management firm that helps clients with their financial goals and life’s dreams.
Ferguson’s Furniture, one of Saline County’s oldest furniture retailers.
Slim Chickens, a casual dining restaurant that’s one of Saline County’s newest businesses.
“In a nutshell, this initiative gives students the convenience and cost savings of taking classes close to home, the ability to work and go to college or find a paid internship with college credit, and the opportunity for scholarships and financial aid,” said Rogerson. “That’s what affordability and accessibility is all about.”
UA Little Rock has partnered with the City of Benton for more than 40 years. The collaboration started in 1975 with UA Little Rock providing evening college courses at Benton High School. In 1995, in partnership with the Saline County Education Association and Benton city leaders and the business community, the university opened the Benton Campus in the heart of the city.
About 250 students are currently enrolled in classes on the campus, which offers full student services including financial aid, admissions, academic advising on site, as well as computer labs, and student lounge areas.