Founded in 1927 as the Junior Agricultural School of Central Arkansas, Arkansas State University-Beebe (ASUB) is a regional state university that is an operationally separate, two-year institution of the Arkansas State University System. With campuses located in Beebe, Heber Springs, Searcy and Little Rock Air Force Base, ASUB offers associate’s degrees, certificates and non-credit training for business and industry. Vice Chancellor Deborah Garrett leads the division of Student Services, comprised of 68 full-time and 120 part-time staff members across various departments within the division, including the university police, the student success center, enrollment management, student life, the TRIO program, as well as student service units at Heber Springs, Little Rock Air Force Base and Searcy campuses, to name a few.
As president-elect of the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS), Garrett is a strong advocate for staff professional development; thus, her division strategically supports staff to pursue additional education and opportunities for advancement. For instance, cash incentives and institutional efforts such as LEAD are offered for degree completion. It’s no surprise, then, that the division’s guiding principles are professional development, diversity and inclusion. Garrett shares, “Diversity and inclusion is very important here; we live in a small rural community and most of our students come from rural communities. We are intentional about our efforts to expose students and staff to the diversity of people on our campuses.”
Commitment to diversity and inclusion involves helping staff understand the different types of students served and, consequently, the different types of approaches necessary for working effectively with diverse students. Staff within the division meet together twice per semester, while staff meetings are more frequent within offices or departments. Semester staff-wide meetings are for everyone, as Garrett explains: “Twice a semester all members of the Student Services staff — no matter if you’re a clerk, food service worker, or director — are invited to attend and talk about current trends, what’s happening in our legislature, meet new staff members, collectively establish our goals for the year and participate in a professional development opportunity.” It’s this commitment to diversity and inclusion, for staff and students, that places ASUB among this year’s “30+ Promising Places to Work.”