UACCM Chancellor Crook Announces Retirement

Chancellor Nathan Crook, who has led the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton (UACCM) through a period of phenomenal change and growth, has announced that he will retire as chancellor on June 30, 2010.

At that time, Crook will have led UACCM for 25 years as only the second leader in the near 50 year history of the institution. He succeeded Thurston Kirk in 1985 as director of then Petit Jean Vocational-Technical School. Crook joined Senator Allen Gordon of Morrilton to champion Act 1244 of 1991, which enabled 14 of the 24 post-secondary vocational-technical schools in Arkansas to convert to two-year colleges. According to Crook, “The greatest challenge of my career was the period from 1988 to 1990 when I worked with Senator Gordon, Senator Nick Wilson, and Representatives Jody Mahoney and John Miller on Act 1244. As a result of this act, these campuses now have much broader offerings and serve thousands more Arkansans each year than they did prior to 1990. I am very proud to have made contributions to this conversion process.” Crook served as chancellor of then Petit Jean Technical College, and in 1997, the institution was renamed Petit Jean College to emphasize the more unrestrained scope and mission of the institution which had expanded to offer academic and workforce education, community education, and adult education in addition to technical training. He also led the institution through the merger with the University of Arkansas System in 2001, an event which changed the name of the institution yet again to the present University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton.

Student enrollment during Crook’s tenure has exhibited unprecedented growth, increasing by more than 660 percent since the institution became a two-year college in 1991 and more than 100 percent since merging with the University of Arkansas System in 2001. In each of the past five years, UACCM has averaged a 10.2 percent increase in student enrollment over the previous year. Crook said, “Since becoming a two-year college in 1991, we have worked diligently to put the programs, services, and infrastructure in place to serve 2,500 students. We are there today and are now putting plans in motion to serve 4,000 students in anticipation of continued growth in the future.”

The growth of the college in physical terms is another one of Crook’s extraordinary accomplishments. He has overseen the construction of several major academic and student support buildings including the UACCM Technology II Building, Earle Love Child Study Center, Science Building, Plaza, Fine Arts Building, Fine Arts Auditorium, Business Technology Center, University Center, and Library Complex. During his tenure, the college has also renovated and expanded virtually all pre-existing campus buildings and has acquired the present Maintenance Complex, University Bookstore, and Health and Fitness Building as well as the future Leadership Development Institute and Adult Education Center in downtown Morrilton to accommodate a burgeoning student population.

Beyond the campus in Morrilton, partnerships have been forged under Crook’s leadership with the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, University of Arkansas at Monticello, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and the Criminal Justice Institute of the University of Arkansas System. These partnerships have made expanded educational options available via on-campus compressed video and online degree-transfer programs.

According to University of Arkansas System President Dr. B. Alan Sugg, “Nathan Crook has provided outstanding leadership for the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton. Over the past several years, the college has seen dramatic growth in student enrollment, new academic facilities, and degree production. UACCM has achieved this success while maintaining excellent quality in its academic programs. I am extremely proud and appreciative that Nathan has been our Chancellor.”

Among other honors, Crook was named District IV “Pacesetter of the Year” in 2002 by the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations. The award recognizes a community college president or CEO who has demonstrated special leadership and support in marketing and public relations efforts in their institution. Crook said, “If I am considered to have been successful, it is because of a supportive family, exceptional UACCM personnel, outstanding board members, and local community support. Working together, we have created an outstanding community college of which we can all be proud. It has truly been a blessing to be associated with UACCM these past 25 years."


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