SEARCY — Though Ben Pickard is retired from his career in the higher-education field, he’s still doing his part to help students who are pursuing a college education.
He was recently appointed by Gov. Mike Beebe to serve as a member of the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Pickard’s appointment will expire in May 2016.
Pickard said he was contacted by the governor’s office about becoming a part of this board while he was working with the Arkansas Lottery Commission.
“I resigned my position [with the Arkansas Lottery Commission] to get this one,” Pickard said.
Before he retired in 2009, Pickard was vice chancellor of student services at Arkansas State University-Beebe. He is a former president of the Arkansas College Personnel Association, the Arkansas Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Arkansas Council on Student Services.
He was one of the original nine members of the Arkansas Lottery Commission and served as commission chair from May 2012 until May 2013, according to the Arkansas Higher Education website.
“My professional background is in higher education, so [being appointed to the board] was somewhat of a homecoming for me,” he said.
The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s 12 members work together to approve degree programs, Pickard said.
“Anytime an institution wants to add a degree, they provide information to their local and state board [to approve it],” Pickard said.
The Arkansas Department of Higher Education’s website states that the board also administers statewide financial-aid programs and contracts with the Southern Regional Education Board for support of graduate and first professional study outside of Arkansas; recommends institutional operating, capital and personal-services budgets; and collects and reports on student and course data as part of a statewide data base and academic program inventory for policy studies.
Pickard said the board meets quarterly, and he hopes his background will help him make the best decisions for college students in the state.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to serve students once again because that’s where I was involved during my professional time,” Pickard said. “I always like to do whatever I can to assist students in completing their college education.”