Campus News

  • College of the Ouachitas is among the 10 best community colleges in the nation, representatives for the Aspen Institute said recently.
    Dr. Stephen Schoonmaker, College of the Ouachitas’ President, was presented the prestigious award in a ceremony in Washington, D.C.  College of the Ouachitas was the only Arkansas college to be recognized as a top 10 finalist.

    The Aspen Prize College Excellence Program was designed to recognize community colleges with strong records of preparing students for jobs or transfer to four-year colleges, as well as attracting and graduating low-income and minority students. The Aspen Institute is an educational studies organization based in Washington, D.C.  Since 2011, the institute has awarded an annual prize for Community College Excellence to a community college that provides students with the highest level of skills and best outcomes for jobs.

    The Aspen Institute first selected 120 two-year colleges from the pool of about 1,000 eligible institutions.  From the 120, the institute selected 10 finalists that offer the best outcomes in four areas: degree completion or transfer to four-year colleges, success in job market, student learning, and equity of opportunity and successes for underserved students.

    “The Aspen Prize process evaluated more than a thousand community colleges. Being one of the top ten is itself something to celebrate,” said Josh Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. “College of the Ouachitas’ recognition is well-deserved. In a region with limited economic opportunity, the College works hard to provide students with the tools and support they need to be successful in the classroom and in the workforce. From analyzing data on student success, to altering remedial math and English programs, to building strong relationships with regional employers, everything the college does is trained to improve student learning and completion so that graduates have the best chance to succeed in life after graduating. Above all else, College of the Ouachitas works to raise and maintain academic rigor, resulting in three-year graduation and transfer rates significantly increasing over the past several years.”

    Among the reasons College of the Ouachitas stands out as one of the nation’s top community colleges:
    • Steady increases in the number of credentials awarded – from 28 for every 100 full-time equivalent students in 2006, up to 46 in 2010
    • 47% of first-time full-time students graduate or transfer within three years, compared to the national average of 40%
    • Serves low-income student body -- 61% of first-time full-time undergraduates receive Pell grants

    To View College of the Ouachitas information on the Aspen Institute’s Website, go to:

    College of the Ouachitas Media Contact
    Amber Childers, (501)332-0234,

  • On Friday, April 19th, College of the Ouachitas will conduct an Emergency Preparedness Exercise.  The College will be testing its current processes and procedures in a simulated emergency situation.  While it will appear to be a “regular” day on the campus, it will be anything but regular.  Once the “situation” occurs, the campus will test its reaction in the case of a real emergency.

    Local first responders have been notified and will be involved as well as the entire campus. This exercise is designed to test as many parts of the College’s reaction/response as possible.

    This simulated exercise will impact the entire campus and it is extremely important that everyone treat the exercise as if it were the real thing. Since the exercise is on a Friday, the College will have fewer students on campus as normal but for those that are on campus, normal activities will be disrupted, so every individual should plan accordingly.

    The College is conducting the exercise as part of its continuous improvement plan as it makes every effort to be as prepared as possible for any type of emergency on campus. College of the Ouachitas takes the safety of its students, employees and guests very seriously.

    We will be sending out notices via our emergency notification system this week and next, reminding everyone of the exercise. If you do not receive these messages, it may be because you have not updated your contact information. Visit if you need assistance in updating your contact information. We will also use this notification system as part of the actual exercise.

  • PN Pinning Ceremony
    Friday, May 10, 2013
    1st Baptist Church
    531 S. Main Street
    Malvern, AR  72104
    Six-o’clock in the Evening
  • We have food on campus again!  Go by the former Snack Shack to find out the daily specials.

  • College of the Ouachitas is interested in contracting with a vending services company to install and manage vending machines at various locations on campus. Follow the link below for a full copy of the RFP.
    To request a site visit, contact Dr. Roger Coomer at 501.332.0220 or email
    Questions can be directed to the above contact. 
    RFP NO. 13.001 - COTO Vending

  • Now That’s Interesting!

    Ever wondered what  other people on campus do for fun? Ever wished you could find other people who have the same hobbies and interests you do? Ever thought you might be the only person on campus who collects earwax (okay, you probably are!). Here’s your chance to have a voice in creating a CLIC—College Learning Interest Community. Let us know what you’re interested in, and we’ll see what we can do to get a CLIC started just for you!


  • FREE, 1-hour seminar on Estate Planning!  Ashley Naramore, with Baim Law firm, will be at College of the Ouachitas on Thursday, April 25, at 5:00pm.  For more information or to reserve your spot, call Laurie Hawthorne at 501-332-0236.

  • COTO evening classes ARE scheduled as planned. College officials are keeping a close eye on weather conditions. Unless we post something to the contrary, always assume we are open. Any changes in operation will be sent via text alerts (SchoolCast), the College website (, Facebook, Twitter, and local TV stations.

  • College of the Ouachitas was named in September as one of 10 finalists for a prestigious prize that recognizes “high achievement and performance in the nation’s community colleges”.

    The 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence will be awarded in March in Washington, D.C., according to a news release by the Aspen Institute. The winner and up to four finalists-with-distinction will share the $1 million prize fund. 

    College of the Ouachitas is a comprehensive two-year institution of higher education located in Malvern, AR that serves a rural, five-county service area located in south-central Arkansas. It is the only public two-year college chartered to serve Hot Spring and Clark counties, and shares service provision in Grant, Saline, and Dallas counties. The College provides educational services focused on Adult Education in an outreach center in Sheridan, AR and for the past ten years provided a vocational program in Arkadelphia, AR. Annual enrollments include over 2,100 credit and 4,000 non-credit students.

    College President, Dr. Stephen Schoonmaker, announced the news to COTO faculty and staff in the campus’ main foyer. He stated to the gathered crowd, “I am extremely proud of the faculty and staff here at the College. It is your dedication, hard work, and persistent efforts that have been invested in our students, and our students' success, which is being rewarded through this national recognition”.

    The finalists were selected from an original national pool of more than 1,000 colleges, and narrowed down in April 2012 to a list of 120 “top” community colleges in the nation, based on publicly available student performance and graduation data collected by the U.S. Department of Education.  College of the Ouachitas is the only college in Arkansas on the Top Ten list.

    The Aspen Institute pointed out in its release that “the administration and faculty are focused on providing students with the tools and support they need, placing a premium on identifying concrete ways to change entire college programs to improve student learning and completion. As a result, three-year graduation and transfer rates have increased steadily over the past several years from 40% in 2006 to 52% in 2010.”

    The award spotlights and celebrates excellence at a time when community college success is more important to the nation than ever before. “College of the Ouachitas is both honored and humbled to be included in such high rankings,” President Schoonmaker remarked.