COTO Awarded $2.24 Million Grant to Improve Distance-Delivered Instruction

Malvern, AR -- College of the Ouachitas (COTO) has been awarded a five-year $2.24 million commitment from the U.S. Department of Education’s Title III program, the largest single grant in the College’s 47 year history.  The grant, written by COTO Vice President of Instruction, Pat Simms, and former COTO Dean of Learning, Casey Rockwell, will provide resources to improve distance-delivered instruction and student services. 

“This is exciting news for the College, our students, and our region,” COTO President Steve Rook said.  “The grant will provide COTO with the ability to improve online course offerings, enhance distance delivery and bolster our technology infrastructure.”

The College is a public, comprehensive, community-based, two-year institution of higher education that serves a rural, five-county service area (approximate population of 192,000, approximate median income of $59,854; Census ACS 2013). Enrollment at the College grew more than ten-fold from the College’s founding in 1991 to 2006. However, for the past ten years, enrollment has declined to 83.5% of its highest level. Adults with work and family responsibilities, the majority of the College’s service area residents, are underrepresented among on-campus students, but they do comprise most of the students the College serves through distance education.  While 95.6% of non-dual (high school/college) distance enrollees seek college degrees, most are part-time students, and many have completed only three or fewer courses.  Expanding distance options will provide more choices, promote distance students’ success and all students’ re-enrollment, and build enrollment for the institution.

“This award will allow COTO to strengthen existing offerings by providing distance specific, hands-on professional development to faculty and adding innovative technologies to enhance the course experience for students. Dedicated information technology and distance learning support specialists will increase consistency among classes and serve as additional resources for faculty and students,” stated Pat Simms.

Notification of the “Strengthening Institutions Program” grant came earlier this month from Senator Tom Cotton’s office.  The $2,248,383 Title III grant will be distributed to COTO over five years, with a beginning date of October 1, 2016.  The College will receive $449,900 for the 2016-2017 grant year. 

About College of the Ouachitas
Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, College of the Ouachitas is one of 22 two-year colleges in the state of Arkansas.  The College provides high quality, accessible educational opportunities at the freshman and sophomore level in associate degree, technical certificate, and certificate of proficiency programs, a college-transfer program, continuing education, and industry-specific training to support individual and community needs in Arkansas.  The College’s primary goals are to enable individuals to develop to their fullest potential and to support the economic development of the state. As directed by its mission, the College “continually identifies and addresses the changing learning needs of the communities it serves.”  Annual enrollments include over 1,800 credit and over 1,200 non-credit students. To learn more, visit