Ozarka College named one of top 50 fastest growing community colleges

MELBOURNE, AR (KAIT) - Ozarka College in Melbourne has been around since 1975. Recently it was awarded the distinction of being one of the fastest growing small colleges in the United States.

From melting sugar on a creme broulette to learning how to give a shot, a day at Ozarka College is a busy one.

Over 1500 students are attending this semester. President Richard Dawe says the college is growing for several reasons.

Dawe , "Because of a strong board and a very dedicated faculty and staff we have been able to be very agile in our program offerings. Also he said financially they are in a good position. "We have excellent money management, we're frugal but that means we have not had to raise tuition. We are only 1 of 2 schools in the state that didn't have to do it."

The nursing program at Ozarka is a mainstay. Sara Lawrence told me that as a single parent this was her option for higher ed.

"If the college weren't here I would have to look into Batesville or Mountain Home and for me to do that it would be very difficult with two kids in school." Lawrence said. She was in a class that was learning how to give injections.

Ozarka is big into distance learning, large screens show classrooms at the Mountain View Campus and at Ash Flat 2 of the 4 satellite campuses.

Dawe says they are adding more faculty and staff and planning some building projects for the future at both the main campus and satellites.

Dawe, "Many colleges the past year have had some decline, some sharp decline and we've continued to grow at a manageable rate. "

Another popular draw for the college is the Culinary Arts Program. The kitchen was hustling today as the lunch hour neared. Hanna Hunter started as a nurse but changed her mind and her major. Hunter says besides cooking, this program makes you ready for the world.

"We take management classes in our pre-req and then we have a menu class that we have to make our own menus and it's actually a menu of what we would like to have one day in our own restaurant." Hunter said. She was in the process of making roses out of icing. Her plan she said is to eventually own a small restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch.

President Dawe said Ozarka is a real learning college for students who ordinarily might not be able to go to a larger college because of money or location.

Dawe, "If you keep that in focus and well in view, you can't go wrong you continue to develop and serve students more effectively."

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