College rivalries | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, June 6, 2009

College rivalries

Posted By on Sat, Jun 6, 2009 at 10:59 AM

I wish we'd been able to staff the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees meeting yesterday.

The Democrat-Gazette reported some of the extended discussion about some distance learning proposals by the Fort Smith campus to provide courses in Batesville and Hot Springs.

My source said the discussion was fueled by a controversy we reported recently: the discord between the UA Fayetteville campus and the nearby Northwest Arkansas Conmunity College in Bentonville over a proposal by Arkansas State University to ship some courses into Bentonville. Chancellor David Gearhart has made it clear that he doesn't much like ASU poaching on students in Fayetteville's backyard. The relationship between UAF and NWACC has always been prickly.

Gearhart talked more about the controversy yesterday and defended UA's opposition as an answer to unneccessary duplication of offerings. Trustee John Tyson reportedly asked the difference between a UA campus offering distance learning in Batesville and ASU offering distance learning in Bentonville. The main answer apparently is simply parochial -- the Batesville campus is part of the UA system while NWACC is not part of ASU.

I think we'll hear more about this. It is hard to imagine restricting distance learning by geographical definitions in the era of the Internet. Of course, it's also hard to imagine a state with competing university systems and a higher education department with more advisory than regulatory clout.

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