UALR prepares for new academic year at University Assembly

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

When Dr. Zulma Toro thinks about the many ways the University of Arkansas at Little Rock is making a difference in the lives of its students, there is one story that remains close to her heart.

Toro, interim chancellor and executive vice chancellor and provost, shared this story during the annual University Assembly meeting Aug. 18 in the Donaghey Student Center.

Toro shared about a student who works three jobs and yet was unable to pay the $267 balance on her student account. When the university secured private funds to help the student remain enrolled this semester, the student was overcome with emotion.

“She came to the chancellor’s office one evening and knocked on the door. I opened the door, and she had tears in her eyes. She said, ‘I just wanted to thank you for this.’ She grabbed hold of me and hugged me. She said, ‘You can never know what this means to me,’” Toro said.

When Toro had previously shared this story with the UALR Foundation Board, two board members wanted to make donations to support more students like the one Toro described.

This desire by members of the UALR family to help students leaves “no doubt in my mind that we are making a difference,” said Toro.

During the address, Toro highlighed several initiatives that are helping to build a stronger, more student-centered university, including:

  •     The Trojan Experience: A comprehensive student success strategy, based on the five Trojan Touchstones, with the goal of offering UALR students a unique and transformational educational experience.
  •     Reimagining the First Year: UALR is one of only 44 institutions in the nation to participate in the grant-funded “Reimagining the First Year of College” project led by the Association of State Colleges and Universities.
  •     Diversity and Inclusion Plan: A plan to create an environment at UALR where every person is valued and respected, regardless of accent, dialect, gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

The university should prepare for a possible change in higher education funding fully based on outcomes, Toro said. The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board endorsed the framework for a new outcomes-based funding model July 29.

The funding model is only in a preliminary stage, but its main considerations are effectiveness, efficiency, and affordability.

With a new chancellor and 50 new faculty members at UALR this year, new leadership will be a major factor in the continued success of these initiatives.

“Our new chancellor is very much committed to fundraising and raising the external profile of our institution,” Toro said. “In addition, he is determined to lead us in new efforts to turn around enrollment trends. Dr. Rogerson will bring fresh eyes and new ideas about how we can achieve our vision.”

Dr. Andrew Rogerson, and his wife, Janessa, attended the assembly and also provided remarks.

“Thank you for holding down the fort until I officially start on Sept. 1,” Rogerson told Toro before addressing the assembly.  

“I couldn’t miss the opportunity to attend this assembly to express my gratitude to lead this great institution in the years ahead. I didn’t accept this position lightly. I shall work hard to make this great university even better,” he said.

To view Toro’s University Assembly presentation, visit the website.

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