Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas (PCCUA) in Helena-West Helena (Phillips County) is an institution of higher education in the middle section of eastern Arkansas. PCCUA is a leader in providing cultural enrichment and continuing education in a region often lacking these opportunities.
PCCUA began as Phillips County Community College (PCCC) after the electorate in Phillips County passed a ballot measure providing local financial support for a community college on October 23, 1965. Community leaders felt that providing higher education to residents of the Delta would enhance the economy of the community and the quality of life of the residents the college would serve. Subsequently, Governor Orval Faubus appointed the first board of trustees for PCCC, which held its first meeting on November 1, 1965. The first act of the new board was to appoint Dr. John Easley as the college’s first president. The college held its first classes at the Naval Reserve Building, with an initial enrollment of approximately 250 students. Construction of the campus on Campus Drive began, and the initial buildings were completed in 1968 after the college’s first class graduated in May of that year. After the completion of the initial buildings on Campus Drive, the college added the Lily Peter Auditorium and Fine Arts Center in 1972, the Nursing Complex in 1976, the Easley Administration Building in 1986, the Bonner Student Center in 1991, the Mitchell Science Annex in 1992, and the Pillow-Thompson House located on Helena’s Perry Street (given to the school in 1993 and reopened in 1997 after renovations).
Significant change came to PCCC in 1996. Voters in Arkansas County enacted a ballot measure to annex that county into the PCCC taxing district. In that same year, Rice Belt Technical Institute in DeWitt (Arkansas County) was transferred to Phillips Community College, and plans for program expansion in Stuttgart (Arkansas County) began, resulting in the creation of two additional campuses. The school’s name was changed to Phillips Community College to reflect the college’s reach beyond Phillips County.
In July 1996, Phillips Community College joined the University of Arkansas System. This change was made to enhance the educational offerings available to students and resulted in the conversion of the board of trustees to a board of visitors. President Steven Jones became the chancellor of the new PCCUA. While some in the community lamented the loss of local control, the overwhelming sentiment among the residents and supporters of the college was that the affiliation with the University of Arkansas System would increase educational opportunities for the prospective students, particularly through partnerships to increase the number of four-year degrees that could be obtained without leaving Helena-West Helena.
PCCUA offers degrees through the Division of Business and Information Systems, Division of Allied Health, and Division of Arts and Sciences. It is a leader in training nurses employed by medical providers in the region, along with training and coordinating programs to educate students for work in the local school systems through partnerships with the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM) and Arkansas State University (ASU).
In 2010 the Stuttgart campus began constructing the Grand Prairie Center to add additional classrooms and an auditorium for use by the residents of Arkansas County for special events. In fall 2011 Dr. Steven Murray became chancellor. Programs have continually expanded along with the facilities available in Arkansas County. As of fall 2014, the college’s three campuses include 1,799 students.
For additional information:
Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas. http://www.pccua.edu/ (accessed January 27, 2010).
Nathan Andrew Bagley
Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas