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Trade school with Fort Smith location abruptly closes

by Mike Jones | October 13, 2021 at 3:33 p.m.
Vista College, a chain of trade schools that operated a campus in Fort Smith, closed its doors abruptly Friday, according to an official at the Arkansas Division of Higher Education. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Saccente)

FORT SMITH -- Vista College, a chain of trade schools with a campus in Fort Smith, closed its doors abruptly Friday, according to Arkansas Division of Higher Education officials.

Alana Boles, the division's program director for private career and out of state education, said she was surprised by the news. The college notified her Monday.

"They didn't really give me an explanation," Boles said.

The Fort Smith campus at 1200 S. Waldron Road had 354 students enrolled at the time of its closing, with another 69 Arkansas students enrolled in the college's online programs, according to Maria Markham, division director.

Boles said the division has the students' transcripts and is sending them to the students so they may continue their education at other institutions.

Education Futures Group LLC, which owns Vista College, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy Monday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the District of Delaware. Education Futures Group is based in Richardson, Texas.

Vista College is a for-profit organization with its main campus in El Paso, Texas. It also has campuses in the Texas cities of Beaumont, College Station, Killeen and Longview and in Las Cruces, N.M. Each of those campuses also closed within the past week, according to multiple media reports.

Vista offered programs in health care; business; information technology; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; and industrial maintenance.

A call to the Fort Smith location produced a recorded message that said, "This call may be recorded for quality purposes," before the call was disconnected. The school's website remained active Wednesday, without any reference to the school being closed.

The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved Vista College to open its Fort Smith campus Jan. 31, 2014, and certified the college's first programs a few months later, according to Markham.

Vista College opened its Fort Smith campus in January 2016. The facility occupies 25,800 square feet of space and consists of multiple lecture rooms, medical and dental laboratories, computer labs, media center/library, administrative offices and a conference room, according to a description in its course catalog.

Vista was accredited through the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, Markham said.

Print Headline: Vista College closes its doors

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