SEARK foundation getting new life, official says


Southeast Arkansas College Foundation Board Chair Mac Bellingrath challenged the SEARK Board of Trustees recently to make a financial pledge to the body to help it reach its goal of $100,000 in assets as part of an ongoing revitalization effort.

Bellingrath addressed the board Tuesday to provide a progress report on the foundation.

“This past spring Dr. [Steve] Hilterbran and Kaleybra Morehead began to work with us to reinvigorate the foundation,” Bellingrath said. “As of this year, the foundation had a total of $68,000 in its endowment and we decided that job number one is to increase the size of the foundation. We determined that we need to make a concerted effort to reach $100,000 to get to the next benchmark.”

“We talked about what a reasonable contribution per foundation board member should be and decided that we should at least consider a gift of $300 per year,” Bellingrath said. “We already have pledges from seven board members for $300 per year for two years. We expect to receive nice pledges from the other five as well. Dr. Hilterbran and Kaleybra have made leadership pledges. We have two years to raise the level to $100,000. and are asking for two year commitments.”

Bellingrath said that so far $7,000 or 20 percent of the overall goal has been raised.

“I am asking this board to consider a similar pledge,” Bellingrath said. “We need your help. I have prepared a pledge letter for each of you.”

Bellingrath said that Foundation Board Secretary Roy Ferrell of Simmons First National Bank is also serving as grants chair.

“We are looking at possible grants for SEARK students in the form of scholarships once we have reached our $100,000 goal,” Bellingrath said. “We wouldn’t really have enough to do anything in terms of bricks and mortar but we can do something to help make a difference in the lives of our students.”

In answer to a question from trustee Ken Baim, Bellingrath said that ultimately the foundation board hopes to be able to generate some income from the endowment funds.

The board approved a motion of support for the work of the foundation and Hilterbran thanked Bellingrath and Morehead for their work on behalf of the foundation.

Student activity fee increase

In other business the board voted to increase the student activity fee by $1 per credit hour for a total fee of $2 per credit hour, at the request of Student Senate President Sylinda Ferguson.

Hilterbran asked Ferguson if the number of student activities is increasing.

“We sponsored a September 11 remembrance; we had a voter registration drive where 30 people either registered or documented their change of address; we had 60 participants for a distracted and drunk driving simulator; we had the Fall Festival attended by more than 250 students and their families; we sponsored a luau; and we had 30 participants from SEARK in the Race for the Cure,” Ferguson said.

Compensation increase

The board approved a request from Hilterbran to grant SEARK employees a one time bonus payment if certain conditions are met beforehand.

“I would like to get approval for an employee compensation increase if the funds are available and if the government declares a cost of living adjustment after Christmas,” Hilterbran said. “I am looking at this as a one time stipend.”

Personnel

The board approved a series of personnel actions, including the hiring of Jordan Drye as an Administrative Specialist I effective Sept. 18; Bobby Edwards as a maintenance assistant effective Oct. 15; Chester James and Velma as institutional services assistants, effective Oct. 22; Erica Buckhanan as an Administrative Specialist I- Financial Aid effective Nov. 1; Kedrick Jones as an Administrative Specialist II- College Affairs effective Nov. 5; and Herbert William Smith as Assistant Director of Financial Aid effective Nov. 16.

The board approved the resignations of Steve Sumner as a criminal justice instructor effective Dec. 14; King Smith as an institutional services assistant effective Sept. 12; and Jordan Drye as an Administrative Specialist I effective Oct. 3.

Lozanne Milton was promoted to Registrar and Director of Records effective Oct. 16; and Ronald Works was promoted to Maintenance Supervisor effective Sept. 1.

Construction update

Hilterbran said that the architectural plans for the new administration building are on schedule for completion by Jan. 1 and that open bids will be solicited by Feb. 2.

“We might be able to break ground in March,” Hilterbran said.

New website

Vice President for Student Affairs and Institutional Research Michael Gunter officially unveiled the new SEARK website.

“The new site is much more user friendly and includes a search function that didn’t exist on the old site,” Gunter said.

Financial report

SEARK Controller Steven Ballard presented the financial report for the three months ending Sept. 30, 2012.

Ballard reported total revenues of $3,560,390; expenditures of $2,152,382; and a total 2012-2013 budget of $11,935,427.