Arkansas State University - Newport

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History & Mission


Empowering Individuals. Advancing Communities. 


ASU-Newport will provide accessible, affordable, innovative learning opportunities that transform lives and strengthen the regional economy. 


ASUN's core values of belonging, compassion, diversity, innovation, and integrity shall drive our institutional priorities and goals.

Where you're going depends on where you've been. 

Arkansas State University-Newport is a place with a distinct past, worthy of note, but also a bright future which reflects the dreams, goals and aspirations of numerous individuals, both past and present.  To fully understand this institution, one must take a brief glance backward into the history that molded its destiny.  
ASU-Newport has experienced a very unique legacy in relation to not only its internal organizational structure, but also with regards to accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission.  These phases have impacted the institution in numerous ways.  Prior to being named ASU-Newport, the organization was known as White River Vocational Technical School, receiving accreditation April 19, 1989, through the North Central Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement.  In 1991, the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 1244 which merged White River Vocational Technical School with ASU-Beebe.  ASU-Newport was then accredited through ASU-Beebe by the North Central Association as a satellite campus.  These were very interesting and evolving years for not only the institution, but the entirety of Jackson County.  Given the economic changes transpiring, complete with a significant economic downturn, there emerged a significant need for retraining and repurposing of skill sets among individuals.  But drive, passion and mission produce wonderful results.  The success of this small former vocational technical school at the turn of the century could be attributed to a keen connection to local needs, creative thinking and an amazing amount of “sweat equity.”  As a result of these unique circumstances, on April 21, 2000, the Arkansas Board of Higher Education gave its approval for ASUN to become a stand-alone institution.  Stand-alone status was contingent upon the following:

  1. The President and Board of Trustees of Arkansas State University would create the position of Chancellor as the chief executive officer of ASUN;
  2. ASUN would have a separate budget appropriation; and
  3. ASUN would gain HLC accreditation no later than May 1, 2006.

The 83rd General Assembly of the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 297 into law on February 19, 2001, creating a separate budget appropriation for ASUN effective July 2, 2001.  ASU-Newport’s first Chancellor, Dr. Larry Williams, assumed his post on November 1, 2001, with a laundry list of initiatives to cover as ASUN entered this exciting, but scary position as an independent institution.  The accreditation process began with a site visit April 1-3, 2002, with ASUN receiving initial accreditation for a five- year period for stand-alone status.  The unique dream of independence was here, but, as with all initiatives, it brought serious responsibilities.
The first decade of the twenty-first century was indeed a bustling time for ASU-Newport.  The institution boasted new leadership, expanded initiatives and a renewed sense of purpose.   The organization was involved in endeavors that ran the gamut from the successful passage of a dedicated revenue stream for the college, to the creation of cutting-edge programs such as High Voltage Lineman Technology, Surgical Technology and Hospitality Management.  Student assistance initiatives such as the Student Emergency Fund, Career Pathways and a stand-alone financial aid department were enacted as well as cultural endeavors such as Travel Study Initiatives, Patron Series and the addition of facilities to enhance student learning and community involvement.  New positions and administrative hierarchy were created to meet the concerns of an evolving institution and more adequately address student needs. 
One of the pivotal changes in the history of ASU-Newport occurred in 2007, when ASUN assumed operational responsibility for two site campuses in Jonesboro, and Marked Tree.  These institutions had previously been under the jurisdiction of A-State in Jonesboro.  However, the mission, vision and values of ASUN more closely aligned with the actual purpose of these institutions.  Several years of observation, clarification of processes and updates to more closely align to an academic model followed, with amazing results, as a one-time branch campus acquired branches of its own.  Numerous renovation projects, as well as further curricular alignments occurred which would ensure a solidarity of purpose and enhanced efficiencies. 
With the retirement of Dr. Larry Williams in 2013, and the selection of a new Chancellor, Dr. Sandra Massey, the institution entered yet another phase of development.  Dr. Massey, the first female Chancellor in the ASU-System, accomplished more than shattering a glass ceiling; she ushered in a new process of thought, with a desire for consistency among campuses with a heavy focus on connection. 
Arkansas State University-Newport maintains a “one-college, multi-location” philosophy, which ensures the quality and consistency of its administrative procedures, academic programs and student services across all locations.  The institution provides access to the full array of student services on each location either through staff based at the location or through staff who travel from another locale.  Personnel from the central administrative offices, including the chancellor and vice chancellors, as well as their deans and assistant deans, regularly travel to each location to deliver needed services and to provide additional information, support and assessment of service offerings.  The planning, prioritizing, budgeting and resource allocation processes for all academic programs and student services for all locations are coordinated through these offices with direct input from the deans, directors, program coordinators, faculty and staff. 
In addition to campuses at Newport, Jonesboro and Marked Tree, ASUN enjoys educational associations through concurrent offerings with 13 partnering high schools, as well as the Arkansas Department of Corrections Grimes and McPherson Units.  These connections encourage student success and offer much needed options for individuals along various stages of their life journey. 
All institutions, at some point in their journey, strive for a sense of individualism and identity; ASUN was no different.  After significant dialogue and discussion among leadership of the college, in summer 2018, ASU-Newport decided it was time to rebrand and remarket the institution with not only different colors, but to introduce a mascot that would further solidify the marketable image of the institution.  Built on the site of a World War II airbase, once again, the rich history of the region came to play…..and ASU-Newport became known as “The Aviators” with a World War II fighter pilot named “Ace” to lead as mascot.   This decision paid homage to a significant part of ASUN history, but, also a pivotal time and place in the region’s past. 
As the institution began the 2019-2020 term, there was, as usual, a vibrancy and excitement in the air.  Nothing could truly prepare any college campus for what was to transpire in March, 2020.   ASU-Newport had a very crafted and deliberate emergency response plan, complete with plans for continuity of services in a variety of situation; However with the onset of COVID 19, the institution entered a new phase of operations.    In a matter of one week, with governmental offices temporarily closing, and effectively a nation adhering to stay-at-home orders, ASUN entered a state of remote operations.  As with all effective adaptations, ASUN not only survived, but thrived.  Formal and informal means of communications ensued, and as the globe faced a colossal health crisis, ASU-Newport continued to serve the needs of students, faculty, staff and the community; just in a different manner.
Globally, the year 2020 was dramatically different than anyone could have ever imagined.  The same could be said for ASU-Newport.  We survived the end of the spring semester, via virtual courses, commencements and meetings and by drawing on the innovative spirits of our most creative professionals.  By fall, through a re-phased entry plan, ASUN was able to repopulate campuses using a tiered approach of social distancing, symptoms monitoring and contact tracing to ensure the safe continuation of services.  Amid this most unique of times, Chancellor Sandra Massey announced her retirement-effective December 31, 2020.
Nothing is more critical to an institutional community than the selection of a leader.  ASUN tackled this initiative in the middle of a pandemic with efficiency, safety and creativity; the same attributes that had been utilized in allowing the continuation of services.  Through a selection process in conjunction with ASU System guidance, Dr. Johnny. M. Moore was selected as the third Chancellor of ASU-Newport.  Much akin to Dr. Massey’s trailblazing efforts with regard to gender, Dr. Moore was the first African American to be selected as Chancellor of any ASU System institution.  Dr. Moore’s ascension to office brought with it renewed vitality of spirit and enthusiasm. 
 Arkansas State University-Newport looks vastly different emerging into the third decade of the twenty-first century than it did as a small vocational technical school.  New facilities house state-of-the art programs; new faces share the eagerness and optimism connected to opportunity; new initiatives challenge and draw the very best efforts faculty, staff and students have to offer.  However, some things remain the same; the empowerment of students to obtain their dreams; the chance for young professionals to achieve career goals unimaginable; the desire to impact positive results for stakeholders and the community.  These goals will never change.  Eighty years ago, the skies were abuzz with the activity and vibrancy of aviators protecting the American dream against foreign military threats.  Today, ASUN Aviators still patrol the region; this time, in search of knowledge and the life changing skills necessary to forge a new existence for themselves.  They continue to keep the dream alive…..flying high and navigating new horizons.


1976 - Arkansas State University-Newport (ASUN) founded as White River Vocational Technical School.

1992 - ASUN merged with Arkansas State University-Beebe to become ASU Beebe/Newport. 

2000 - Arkansas Board of Higher Education approved ASUN to be its own, stand-alone campus.

2001 - ASUN hired its first Chancellor, Dr. Larry Williams.

2002 - Gift received from Arkansas Steel and Associates of $250,000 to endow cultural programs.

2002 - ASUN received initial national accreditation by Higher Learning Commission. 

2002 - Jackson County residents voted to support ASUN through local sales tax

2003 - ASUN enrollment exceeds 1,000 students.

2004 - Gift received from Walton Family Foundation in the amount of $1 million, in honor of Lindley and Kaneaster Hodges Jr.

2004 - Ground broke on a Student Community Center.

2004 - The high voltage lineman technology program was created from a partnership between ASUN and the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas.

2005 - Named by Community College Week magazine as one of the top ten fastest-growing public two-year colleges.

2006 - Ten-year accreditation granted by Higher Learning Commission of North Central Accreditation.

2006 - First fully online degree program offered - Associate of Arts in Business.

2008 - ASUN assumed operational oversight for the technical centers in both Jonesboro and Marked Tree.

2009 - ASUN enrollment exceeds 2,000 students.

2012 - ASUN hosts "First Decade Celebration" in Newport, Marked Tree and Jonesboro. 

2012 - ASUN student receives first and only Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) granted to a community college student.

2012 - $1 million gift received from Fowler Family in support of Hospitality Services program.

2013 - Dr. Sandra Massey named ASUN's second Chancellor.

2014 - ASUN becomes fifth largest community college in Arkansas in headcount enrollment.

2015 - 2500 STRONG - In Fall 2015 beat it's all-time enrollment record with 2,533 students.  

2016 -  Launched IGNITE Academy and joined the Second Chance Pell program.

2017 - HLC Accreditation Renewed and ASUN-Marked Tree celebrated 50 years of workforce training.

2018 - First time to host the Science Olympiad high school competition and Manufacturing Day.

2019 - ASUN's Chancellor named to AACC Board.

2021 - Dr. Johnny M. Moore named ASUN's third Chancellor.