The University of Central Arkansas hosted the National Conference of Academic Deans from July 30 to Aug. 1 at Brewer-Hegeman Conference Center on campus and the Hilton Garden Inn in Conway.

More than 60 college and university provosts, deans and associate deans were in attendance, with some coming from as far away as Oregon, Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois.

The three-day conference mixed workshops on college governance with career-development advice. This year’s theme was "The Promotion of Quality Within and Beyond Campus Borders." Plenary sessions and discussions will focus on topics including accreditation, academic education and online education.

"We were very pleased to welcome Dr. Sylvia Manning, the new president of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools," said conference host Dr. Neil Hattlestad, dean of the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences. "Dr. Manning is in high demand, and we felt most fortunate that she was able to fit the national conference into her busy schedule." The Higher Learning Commission is the body that accredits all universities and colleges in 19 states, including Arkansas. 

Manning, who is based in Chicago, presented two keynote sessions. On July 30, she focused on new strategies that are under consideration to make the accreditation process more efficient and effective. In her second session, on Aug. 1, she discussed new trends in online learning, which Hattlestad called "one of the most rapidly developing forms of instructional delivery in this country and abroad." 

Established in 1941 by Schiller Scroggs and Henry Bennett of Oklahoma State University, NCAD is the oldest organization of its kind. The conference was held at OSU until 1995, when it relocated to the University of Memphis. It then moved to Texas Woman’s University in 1999 and came to UCA in 2001. In 2004, the conference planning committee recommended that UCA become the permanent host. 

"The conference is good for UCA because it brings higher education administrators from across the nation to share new ideas that help us find better ways to educate our students," Hattlestad said. "As they become familiar with UCA through their attendance at this conference they become part of our network of fellow administrators who we can call to exchange ideas and to assist each other in the recruitment of faculty and students."