Type to search

Urban Renaissance: Green’s hands give Shorter College and surrounding community a new vision, economic boost

Communities Featured HBCU Corner News

Urban Renaissance: Green’s hands give Shorter College and surrounding community a new vision, economic boost


Under the leadership of its 45th president, Shorter College is experiencing an unprecedented renaissance that rejuvenates the two-year technical school’s campus and the surrounding urban neighborhood. 

Founded in 1886 by the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, Shorter is the nation’s only private, two-year HBCU. That partnership with the AME church was highlighted on Feb. 9 when the Shorter College President O. Jerome Green and Board of Trustee Chairman Michael Mitchell christened a brand-new, $1.9 million technology hub.

During the ground-breaking ceremony of the new Shorter College Entrepreneurial Technology Center attended by more than 200 people, Green and Mitchell both expressed excitement about the future of the nation’s lone two-year HBCU that only a dozen years ago was near closure. 

“We have been very blessed and successful in terms of attracting financial support both from government agencies and from private donors. That has enabled us to do the things that we have been able to do,” said Green, who took over leadership of Shorter College in 2012. “We believe this project will also be an economic stimulus for the City of North Little Rock and the development of the East Broadway Corridor.” 

The Shorter College tech hub is partly funded by a U.S. Economic Development Administration grant first announced in April 2023 to support the renovation of Rock Island Argenta Depot in North Little Rock. The grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce agency includes initial funding of $1.275 million, matched by $600,000 in local investment. 

“The development of the [technology hub] will help prepare students for in-demand jobs and provide workforce development training certifications for students throughout the region,” the EDA said in a statement. “Once completed, the project allows for the expansion of business operations, which will help bolster higher paying jobs and attract private investment in the area. The grantee estimates that this investment will help create 864 jobs.

”In his comments during the ground-breaking event at the Rock Island Depot, Green emphasized that the groundbreaking represented a significant leap forward in Shorter College’s commitment to providing students with a technologically advanced learning environment. 

In a tour of the new innovation hub, Green said the facility is equipped with the latest tools and resources, fostering innovation, collaboration, and firsthand learning experiences in computer skills. The new tech hub will also include a credit union, which is projected to open later in the fall. 

“Technology is the future, and we are ensuring that Shorter College students have every opportunity to succeed,” said Green, also pastor of Connor Chapel AME Church in Little Rock. 

The technology hub announcement is not a one-off occurrence under Green’s tenure. In fact, the Alabama native, who is an attorney and ordained AME elder, has spearheaded a lengthy list of accomplishments, investments and new construction projects since he took the helm over a decade ago.

For his leadership and fundraising acumen, Green was recognized in February as one of “The Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders’ of 2024.” The annual award is a national recognition that was created by the HBCU Campaign Fund, a non-profit that advocates for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs). 

According to HCF’s Founder, President & CEO Demetrius Johnson Jr., the select group of ten leaders have “proven their responsibilities for shaping policies, changing perspectives, and making decisions that affect millions of individuals in the higher education space, and the daily needs of what an HBCU and MSI contributes to their communities.”

Besides Green, HCF also announced the inaugural Dr. Lawrence A. Davis Jr. Trailblazer of Higher Education Award, named after the later Chairman Emeritus of University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). This honor recognizes a current retiring or retired president or chancellor that serve an HBCU or MSI and uphold decade-long values and contributions to the field of higher education. 

But Green still maintains there is still a lot of work to be done at Shorter College, one of four HBCUs in Arkansas. Located at the center of the multiyear, $1 billion I-30 Crossing project that rebuilt the Arkansas River bridge and widened a 6.7-mile section of the interstate through downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock, the local two-year community college is putting a new spotlight on the mostly Black community located on the banks of the Arkansas River.

Here are just a few of Shorter College’s highlights under Green’s tenure:

-In 2013, the 137-year-old HBCU receives full reaccreditation by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) and re-certification by the State of Arkansas Board of Higher Education. Since that time, enrollment at the college has increased from only two students to its current enrollment of over 600 students.

-In 2015, Green and the school’s administration and supporters held a grand opening for the renovated Shorter College Health and Wellness Center that provides medical services for students, faculty and staff, and the community. According to Dr. Paula Fletcher, health director for the renovated center at 700 Vine Street, the facility’s mission is to become a focal point for the largely African American neighborhood surrounding the campus.

-In February 2023, Shorter College officials held a ground-breaking ceremony for long-held plans for new dorms for the campus near Locust and Bishop Lindsey streets in North Little Rock. During the fall semester of 2023, Shorter opened its first on-campus residence hall, a 42-person dormitory primarily for out-of-town students and athletes for Shorter’s men’s and women’s basketball team

-The two-year community college is one of the state’s key partners in the Reimagine Arkansas Workforce Project. This federally funded workforce training program benefits Arkansans economically impacted by the COVID19 pandemic. In 2021, the U.S. Department of Education awarded more than $13 million to the Arkansas Workforce Development Board and the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services to fund the statewide coordinated effort. Training programs include business, construction, healthcare, manufacturing, project management, technology, veterinary, and other vocational and technical areas.

-Shorter College also sponsors the Anchor Re-Entry and the Second Chance Pell Program programs, which help former and current Arkansas inmates get work certifications or college . Through a partnership with the Arkansas State Department of Community Corrections, the re-entry program recruits individuals currently participating in parole or probationary programs to get a college education.

-That program honored 25 men and women with an associate of arts degree in November 2018, during Shorter College’s first Second Chance Pell commencement ceremony at the Arkansas Department of Correction’s Wrightsville Unit. An additional eight adults earned their associate of arts degree through Second Chance Pell on May 15, 2019

-Shorter College re-established its men’s and women’s basketball programs for the 2022-2023 season. The North Little Rock college is now part of Region 2 of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), the governing association of community college, state college, and junior college athletics throughout the U.S.

-Acquired two properties at 512 Pine Street and 608 Vine Street in 2019 that will be used as a Career Placement Center to help students find jobs and additional classrooms to accommodate our growing enrollment

-During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Shorter initiated steps to offer distance learning for all students.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *